The last 20 years have seen nationwide and regional pharmacy chains consolidating into big-box operations, and other retailers and grocery chains have jumped into the fray. Plus, the number of independent pharmacists operating in Delaware increased to 20 last year, as reported by Delaware Online.
All of the operations have grown into more than just a place to have a prescription filled. They offer services from health monitoring to preventive checkups. Considering the array of consumer choices, it’s time to put thought into where you take your next prescription.
Some insurance companies restrict subscribers to certain pharmacies or mail-order operations, but many give their customers a healthy choice of participating pharmacies.
While the convenience of a pharmacy’s location is often a driving factor, here are seven points to consider when deciding where to fill your next prescription, according to Pharmacy Proud, an organization representing independent pharmacists, and pharmacists interviewed by Delaware Online.
Seven tips for picking a pharmacy
- Is the pharmacist helpful? Ideally, find a pharmacy where you can build a relationship with the pharmacists. They can tell you how to use your medication, the side effects, and if it’s safe to take with your other medications.
- Can it deliver? While you consider where a pharmacy is located, see if it provides free delivery. That alone could tip the scales.
- How long is the wait? Consumer Reports surveys show you’re less likely to wait for a prescription at an independent pharmacy than at a big-box chain. Perhaps there’s less incentive to keep you waiting — and browsing the aisles — because prescription medication sales account for about 95 percent of the average independent’s revenue.
- Does it offer health care? Many pharmacies offer everything from a standard flu shot and a full slate of vaccinations to physicals and other medical care. These offerings could save you a trip to the doctor’s office and could be cheaper.
- Can it make it just for you? Some pharmacies offer compounding services for human and animal medicines. Compounding pharmacies perform services such as customizing a medicine’s strength or dosage, adding flavoring, and reformulating to eliminate an allergenic substance for a patient.
- Can it help at 3 a.m.? Check the pharmacy’s operating hours to see if it offers 24/7 emergency service with an on-call pharmacist.
- What’s the rewards program? Every retailer seems to operate a loyalty program, and pharmacies are no different. Whether it offers discounts on health-related supplies or points toward free gas, see which pharmacy rewards program best helps your lifestyle.