NCPA survey finds pharmacists helped customers weather the (winter) storm

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A recent survey by the National Community Pharmacists Association indicated that local pharmacists stepped up to the plate to make sure that patients’ healthcare needs were met during the 2009-2010 winter season.

NCPA polled 85 community pharmacies in 26 snow-plagued states over a seven-day period in February, while much of the East Coast was still digging out from snow storms and some areas braced for additional winter precipitation.

The survey findings reveal a deep commitment to continue serving patients despite the trying circumstances:

  • 79% managed to maintain normal business hours, with some pharmacies opening early or staying late as necessary. Some used generators to supply power and remain open. Others extended phone services to meet emergency needs
  • 36% expanded their pharmacy’s home delivery service area to accommodate additional patients. Sometimes this included traversing unplowed roads in four-wheel-drive vehicles or picking up groceries for homebound patients
  • 45% witnessed an increase in the number of patients needing emergency fills due to the lack of mail service. Meeting this need usually required either contacting the physician or a lengthy phone call to the insurance company or pharmacy benefit manager for an override. In other cases, pharmacists provided a short-term supply at no cost to the patient and without reimbursement to the community pharmacy.

“These community pharmacists truly stepped up when the patient need was greatest,” said Joseph Harmison, NCPA president. “That commitment is one reason why pharmacists are consistently among the public’s most-trusted professions.”