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How to get the best from your pharmacist

They should play an important role in your health

You’d be forgiven for thinking a pharmacist is someone who hides in the back of a chemist shop putting pills in bottles.

But pharmacists are incredibly experienced medical professionals – and an important part of your healthcare team. They may be based within a hospital, healthcare facility or at a community pharmacy, and will hold a degree in pharmacy. This means they understand the pharmacological effect of medicines. That is, how each medicine is designed to work in the body. They know how the medicines can and should be used, the part they play in helping you, any side effects and the things you should be keeping an eye on. Your pharmacist may also suggest other treatments to help you avoid or reduce the impacts of any side effects.

All this can be quite complex when you consider that many of us take more than one kind of medication – it’s the pharmacist who knows how drugs interact with each other.

In short, the doctor decides what medicines you should take, but the pharmacist should support you to take them safely and comfortably.

What makes a good pharmacist?

Yes, your pharmacist will prepare and package medicines prescribed by your GP, and those you can buy over the counter. But that’s the bare minimum. A great pharmacist will also take time to:

  • Explain what your medicine is for, how it works, and what to expect when taking it
  • Warn you about possible side effects and things to look out for
  • Make sure you understand how to take your medication correctly
  • Suggest additional therapies that could make you more comfortable

Is your pharmacist too busy to help?

The realities of a modern business is that many pharmacists are stretched to the limit. They can be so busy out the back, ensuring that medicines are correctly dispensed, that the time they get to spend talking with patients can become really restricted. While pharmacy shop staff are generally very well trained, they aren’t pharmacists – their advice won’t be as valuable or as comprehensive.

Could a virtual pharmacist be the key?

Some people have found an alternative: ZOOM, a world-first pharmacy model owned and operated in NZ. Using ZOOM’s unique service, patients can call their GP clinic and ask the receptionist or nurse to fax their repeat prescriptions to ZOOM Pharmacy. ZOOM then couriers the medicines to the patient within one to two working days, discretely packaged.

You might think that never meeting your pharmacist face-to-face would give you even less attention, but the opposite is true. ZOOM leaves the dispensing busy-work to state-of-the-art robotics, so its NZ-qualified pharmacists have time to talk to people over the phone. The company’s founder David Taylor says:

“You can email us or give us a call during business hours – you’ll always get one of our New Zealand-qualified pharmacists on the other end. Our customers really value the time we can spend giving them advice and answering their questions.”

One ZOOM customer agrees: “I love how friendly the pharmacists have been to me.” “Staff are friendly and reassuring,” and, “I appreciate the text, the call from the pharmacist and the app reminders when I need to order a repeat,” say two more ZOOM converts.

To get started with ZOOM Pharmacy is easy. The next time you’re ready to organise your repeat prescription, simply call your GP clinic and ask the receptionist or nurse to fax it to ZOOM Pharmacy. Then sit back and wait – your medicines will come to you.

Like to know more? Read about zoompharmacy.co.nz here.