Bad ties, thin hair and strong perspective

Twenty years ago this month, I put on what was then my “lucky” tie, this horrible, neon yellow number from Banana Republic — it wore more like a bad Hawaiian shirt than a tie — and I started a new job as senior editor for OTCs and natural health at Drug Store News.

Sure, I have a lot less hair today than I did then, but I also have much better taste in ties.

And I’ve also enjoyed a pretty good perspective on a lot of the transformation that has occurred in retail pharmacy during that time.

This month also marks the sixth anniversary for a special, stand-alone edition of Drug Store News that was specifically created to help educate policy-makers on the important role community pharmacy plays as the face of health care in neighborhoods all across America. (To view this year's edition, click here.) Timed with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores’ annual RxIMPACT Day on Capitol Hill, this month, our special RxIMPACT report — sponsored by Upsher-Smith — is delivered to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate.

Since it’s all still fresh in my mind, here’s a quick, five-point pitch on the value of community pharmacy — just in case you get caught in an elevator with your local congressman:

  • Pharmacists are the most accessible of all healthcare professionals. More than 90% of Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy;

  • People trust the advice of the pharmacist. Pharmacists consistently rank second only to nurses among the most honest, ethical and trustworthy of all professions, according to an annual Gallup survey;

  • Pharmacy lowers costs. Roughly two-thirds of likely voters said pharmacists provide credible advice that helps them save money;

  • Pharmacy improves quality of care. Pharmacists do a lot more than just fill prescriptions. Pharmacists provide flu shots and other important vaccinations; they provide important disease-state management counseling and ensure patients take their medications as prescribed; and many are working in partnership with local hospitals and health systems to help patients transition successfully from the hospital back into their homes, lowering readmission rates; and

  • Pharmacy brings innovation to health care. The industry continues to work on cutting-edge patient care programs, most recently including a personalized medicine pilot that is using pharmacogenomic testing to match patients to the most effective and cost-efficient therapy. Another focuses on the testing and treatment of flu and strep in a community pharmacy setting.

And lastly, tell them they don’t have to take your word for it. Invite them to visit a pharmacy in their district and see for themselves what pharmacy is doing to be the face of neighborhood health care.