Trust is the foundation of any relationship. Whether we’re talking about a marriage, a business partnership, or a relationship between a health care provider and their patient, a relationship cannot be considered strong if it doesn’t have trust at its base. With trust comes a shared goal and a shared plan for achieving it. Without trust, the two parties involved in the relationship often end up battling each other — even if that battle is silent. The pharmacist-patient relationship is no different.
Understanding the Value of the Pharmacist-Patient Relationship
You cannot underestimate the value of the pharmacist-patient relationship. Often, your patients’ health and well-being can depend on it. Why? Let’s explore.
Reason #1: Trust Opens Doors
In your profession, you need your patients to be honest with you. If they’re currently taking a medication that could react with a newly prescribed medication, you need to know. When you ask them if they drink alcohol on a regular basis, you need them to tell you the truth. Questions about any kind of recreational drug use are equally important. When you have a strong, trusting relationship with your patients, they are more likely to disclose the information you need to help them lead healthier lives.
Reason #2: Better Medication Adherence & Outcomes
When a patient knows their pharmacist, they are more likely to follow their prescription plan. You can call it trust, fear of disappointment, or whatever else you like. The fact is, medication adherence improves when the pharmacist-patient relationship is strong. When patients trust that you’re looking out for their best interests and not just your bottom line, they’re more likely to consistently pick up their refills on time. And better adherence means better patient outcomes.
Going further, pharmacists can help patients better understand the medications they are taking. They can even provide them with tools that will help them stick to their medication plan, like adherence packs or checklists. Sometimes, a strong pharmacist-patient relationship can be the difference between a healthy patient and a hospital visit.
Reason #3: Trusting Patients Are Loyal Patients
A strong pharmacist-patient relationship is one of the things that will keep patients coming back to your pharmacy. Trust has long been one of the differentiators that sets independent pharmacies apart from big box stores.
Strong relationships create a sense of community. At some bigger stores, patients can feel more like a number than an actual person. When someone walks into a pharmacy and the owner greets them by name, they’re more likely to stick around — even if they might be able to find lower prices at a nationwide chain.
Reason #4: Happy Patients Spread the Word
Many independent pharmacies build their customer bases solely on word of mouth. Creating a strong relationship with your patients and treating them like more than just customers does more than just increase loyalty; it turns them into your most powerful marketing tool.
When a person finds something they think is truly special, they broadcast it. When something stands apart, they want to spread awareness of it… and of the fact that they’re the ones who discovered it. (Think about that one friend you have who is always trying to get you to try the latest restaurants.) When you’re different from all the other pharmacy options in the area, it only takes winning over a few of those kinds of people to build significant buzz around your business.
While the business value of a strong pharmacist-patient relationship can’t be ignored, the truth is that building these types of relationships leads to better outcomes for your patients. Trust leads to better medication adherence and a more honest, open dialogue with your patients.