Beyond Google: Pharmacists and women’s health

In case you were wondering, Google won’t replace the community pharmacist as a trusted source for women’s health information, after all.

That, at least, will be one of the conclusions you’ll reach if you watch “Insights into Women’s Health,” a two-part series from DSNTV — Drug Store News’ online video offering — that aired in April (part 1) and early May (part 2). The program, sponsored by Insight Pharmaceuticals and ably hosted by DSN senior editor Antoinette Alexander, consisted of multiple on-the-spot interviews with women on the streets of Manhattan.

Alexander’s goal: To get a better sense of where women get their health information, particularly about women’s health issues, and what role pharmacy retailers can play to provide that information.

The women interviewed had plenty to say on the subject. It was clear they were passionate about the topic of health, well informed, and always on the lookout for trustworthy sources of information about women’s health issues. It was also clear that while the Internet is a huge source of information on health — Google searches are a common tool, and many of the respondents mentioned specific websites like the Mayo Clinic and WebMD as trusted sources of information — they’re no substitute for face-to-face counseling from a real, live pharmacist, preferably delivered in a semi-private setting within the pharmacy area.

That goes double for women’s issues. One woman said it would be helpful if, “at a drug store…there was someone there who knew more about that area,” and could speak about sensitive women’s health issues out of earshot of other customers. Another added that “the interactive kiosks or brochures” at a retail pharmacy “might not have the information you want, so just having a staff person on hand would be great.”

One woman told DSN she’d switch to another pharmacy “if I felt they were really informed and helpful and cared about their customers.

“Customer service is big, especially here in New York where we kind of get brushed off a lot,” continued that respondent. “Our health is so important that we want somebody who does care a little bit about what they’re doing.”

One woman praised CVS for providing written information on the shelves about proper care, diet and exercise related to diabetes. “And if the pharmacists…are more informed about things, that helps,” she added.

I always knew women were generally smarter than us guys about a lot of things. This video series also shows they’re far more engaged than most men about their health, and ready to shift their loyalty to pharmacies that are engaged and informed about women’s health concerns.

If you’re a practicing pharmacist or pharmacy intern, please share your thoughts. Is your own practice site or employer doing everything it can to engage women and give them more than they can get online?