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Doctors establishing pharmacies inside practices to make patients lives easier
Tiffany Giddens, a certified pharmacy technician, files paperwork at the pharmacy in Northeast Diagnostic Center on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Many medical offices are bringing pharmacies within their practices. - photo by Erin O. Smith

As more consumers seem to favor one-stop shopping with their retail choices, some doctors’ offices are starting to adopt the same trend by establishing pharmacies inside their own practices.

A pharmacy inside a doctor’s office proves advantageous for patients and relief for doctors.

“It takes a concern away from us of the patient not getting their medication that day,” Gainesville Dr. Brent Archer said. “They won’t be delayed in their treatment.”

The Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic physician said the pharmacy has been great for his patients.

“They’ll come in and have some illness or sickness and the pharmacy allows us to prescribe the medication,” he said. “They can go right down the hallway and get their medicine and go home.”

Having pharmacists and doctors in the same building is a way for doctor offices to better care for their patients.

“I have a good relationship with the doctors and if there are any questions I can go directly to them,” Pharmacist Jennifer Stowe said. “I don’t have to call and leave a  message and that makes it easy on the patients.”

And despite the developing trend, a couple of doctor’s offices and clinics in Hall County are ahead of the curve.

The Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic opened its pharmacy about a year ago with the help of PharmaPoint, a company in Alabama that helps physician practices, health systems and hospitals operate and run an outpatient retail pharmacy.

“The largest treatment for patients is prescription medication,” PharmaPoint CEO Mike Plaia said. “Typically you go to the doctor or the hospital and their treatment plan is medications.”

Patients are given prescriptions and told to have them filled, he said. But what happens is some patients never get them filled, Plaia added.

The retail pharmacies today also appear disconnected from physicians. 

“If a physician today doesn’t have a pharmacist on their care team and they write a prescription for their patient who has high blood pressure, they have no way of knowing if their patient gets the medication or not,” the Alabama man said.

PharmaPoint hopes to help physicians by bringing a pharmacy and pharmacist onboard and give the practice another member of the care team.

“Practices with multiple doctors, like Northeast Georgia Diagnostic Clinic, may have patients that go there and see three different doctors,” Plaia said, “The pharmacist gives them someone on the physicians care team to help coordinate that care for that patient to make sure they are taken care of.”

The pharmacist also can ensure the patient is sticking to the treatment plan and have some assurance the plan is working for the patient, Plaia said.

Along with taking care of their patients, Stowe helps the chemotherapy patients by taking their medication to them.

Having a pharmacy in the clinic for 10 years, the Longstreet Clinic has a pharmacy, mostly, for patient convenience.

“The patients don’t have to make another stop and we are able to do more counseling,” Longstreet Clinic pharmacy manager Dan Lorenzen said. 

Even though both pharmacies offer one-stop accessibility, hours are limited. Plus, the pharmacies don’t have as much over-the-counter products such as other health care retail stores.

However at Longstreet and the diagnostic clinic, a patient’s prescription is ready by the time he or she is finished with the nurse and is checking out. With that convenience, patients are relieved of the hassle of long waits and extra stops, Plaia said.

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