Barriers in Pharmacy Communication

Communication is critical, not only in the pharmacy environment but in any environment where there are people present. The clinical role of the pharmacist means that there are plenty of opportunities to communicate with the patient and with other health professionals. Pharmacists are the triage between the patients and the medical practitioners and after all helps in taking medicines safely and appropriately by the patients. Hence, pharmacists should have good communication skills.So pharmacists should possess good communication skills to correct weakness and strengthen confidentiality in disseminating information.Effective communication by pharmacists is essential to ensure patient safety in terms of provision and use of medications by patients.

Effective communication is a key component of patient counseling. A pharmacist’s communication is an important factor in patient satisfaction, perceptions of overall service quality, and trust. Communication is much more than speaking clearly. It involves listening and understanding. It includes your tone and body language. Much can be said between individuals when no words are even spoken. In the health care setting, communication is extremely important. Empathetic responses allow you to see something from someone else’s viewpoint. It shows that you understand what they think or feel about a situation. Recognizing their concern allows the patient to feel more comfortable sharing information with you.

High performance communication by the pharmacist includes the use of open-ended questions, empathetic responses, verification of the patient’s understanding, and the absence of distractions.5 Open-ended questions allow for more than a yes or no response.People tend to pay more attention when answering an open-ended question. Asking “Your birth date is March 1, 1956, right?” only requires a yes or no response.Verification of the patient’s understanding is an important step in good communication and a critical component of patient counseling. If the patient does not understand what you’re saying, then you have not communicated effectively. In addition to asking open-ended questions you can also ask the patient to repeat information back to you. This gives you an opportunity to verify their understanding and to correct any misunderstanding.

The patient is involved in decisions about their care and together with the pharmacist the desired outcomes of their drug treatment can be established. The progression of the patient’s drug treatment can be monitored to see whether these outcomes are achieved. Patient counseling isn’t limited to prescription medications. Patients are increasingly using OTC medications and dietary supplements for self-limiting and chronic conditions. The benefits to patients of counseling also apply to OTC products. And with the changing OTC formulations and numerous brand extensions, getting out there on the pharmacy floor is sometimes the best way to be sure of your recommendation. Patients might purchase what they consider a familiar product and end up taking something completely different.

Good communication skills require more than just saying what you mean or speaking clearly. It also requires good listening skills and an understanding of how your body language can be interpreted. You need to focus on the patient as an individual. Determine what they need and be open to communicating with them in the way they prefer.Patient counseling should consist of a two-way dialogue between pharmacist and patient. Since all patients won’t have the same concerns or questions about a particular therapy or medication, patients can benefit from having their specific needs addressed. Patient-guided counseling is a process developed to encourage a two-way exchange between the pharmacist and patient. This method can result in a high level of satisfaction for the patient, and lead the pharmacist to have a higher level of satisfaction with the information communicated as well.

Celeste Botonakis

On the Nursing Assistant Guides blog, certified medical assistant Celeste Botonakis explores the daily life of a CMA. She'll keep you up-to-date with the latest on what’s happening in the field, and provides tips for those who are interested in becoming a medical or nursing assistant. Celeste has served in the medical field for over six years, and is passionate about helping people. She currently works at CSR Primary Care in Skokie, Illinois. Click here to learn more about Celeste Botonakis and