I want to be an advocate for people. That’s what I really like to do.
When you work at a retail pharmacy, you’re doing 10 million things and there’s no time to have in-depth conversations with a person about their medications. As a Pharmacist at MOBE, I have the time to dedicate to our participants. I can be an advocate for them—making sure that they truly understand why they’re taking their medications and feel comfortable with them.
At MOBE, Pharmacists have a unique level of flexibility that other companies don’t offer. For example, I can schedule follow-up appointments with a participant, when necessary, based on their needs. It’s not just a one-and-done situation. In fact, most participants have 2–3 meetings with a MOBE Pharmacist. And there are some people with complicated medication needs who I’ve needed to work with more times over the course of a year. Participants can also contact their Pharmacist on the MOBE Health Guide app with any questions or concerns in between calls.
These are a few of the things MOBE Pharmacists do to advocate for participants:
Make medication easy to understand.
When I talk to participants, I try to match the information to the person. Sometimes I need to discuss very clinical, scientific things that are necessary to understand why a medication is important. But I try to talk to people like I’d talk to my parents, friends, or a sibling. I think about what kind of information they would want to hear or want to know. What would they find valuable? What information would change their quality of life?
Some people want to learn everything about their medications and there are others who are overwhelmed and just want to know what to do. Either way, we talk about any concerns and questions they have in a non-judgmental way.
Find ways to lower medication costs.
Another way I advocate for my participants is by talking about the cost of their medications. Doctors can prescribe the best medication regimen for someone, but if they can’t afford it, it’s not going to help anything.
Being a Pharmacist, I know ways to reduce costs. For example, there are coupon programs that many people aren’t aware of. A medication might cost hundreds of dollars every month, but if you use a free coupon program, it can become just a fraction of the cost each month. Participants often say, “How have I never heard about this?” It can be a game-changer for them.
Another example is that the participant is taking a brand-name medication, but it’s also available as a generic, and for some reason they haven’t switched yet. That’s information I can discuss with them or, if needed, fax the participant’s health care provider, and say, “Your patient mentioned to me that they have concerns about the cost of this medication, and it looks like a generic medication might be a less expensive alternative. Can you please consider prescribing this or follow up with them?”
Find ways to alleviate the side effects of medications.
Side effects of medication can be debilitating. If someone takes metformin, a diabetes medication, a very common side effect is upset stomach or diarrhea. And there’s a lot of different things that you can do to fix that. So, when going through a participant’s medication list and I see metformin, I ask, “Do you have any side effect concerns with an upset stomach or diarrhea?” And some say, “Yeah, I do. I just kind of deal with that.” And I get to say, “You don’t have to DEAL with it.” I make a personalized recommendation for change. It’s an easy fix.
Understanding side effects is simple knowledge for me, but it’s life-changing for some participants. I couldn’t imagine having constant stomach and diarrhea side effects every day, but there are a lot of people who will just say, “Oh, that’s for my diabetes, I have to take it. I’m just going to do what my doctor says. I’m not going to complain.” In those kinds of moments, I know we can make a huge difference for the participant.
Alert participants to safety issues.
When I notice a safety issue in a participant’s medication regimen, I alert the participant and their health care provider. For example, there’s a certain medication class that is very commonly used and I talk to people about a lot. However, there are potential safety concerns with long-term use of these medications. So, I’ll bring that to participants and say, “I noticed you’re taking this medication. Has your doctor mentioned to you about the side effects of long-term use?” And the majority of the time, they say no.
Discuss preventative care.
I also tell participants about preventative care. For example, sometimes I will talk to people about calcium intake, bone health, and osteoporosis. If they haven’t focused on calcium intake at all, we talk about calcium intake through diet and supplement use. And we discuss how calcium supplement products are different. If the participant is concerned about the amount of calcium per pill, I recommend one supplement. But, if they currently take an acid-blocking medication, I know another supplement option would be better. I can make recommendations based on data and save the participant a lot of trial and error, and money spent on the wrong products.
Communicate with health care providers.
As a MOBE Pharmacist, I can’t make medication changes. I don’t have the authority to change a prescription or write a new one. However, I can communicate with the health care provider—giving the provider clear, evidence-based information to help them make highly personalized decisions about their patient. We can also call or fax their doctor’s office on a participant’s behalf.
Additionally, I help participants advocate for themselves with their health care providers. I try to give them the tools to advocate for themselves—such as written summaries of my recommendations and even links to resources if they’re interested—that they can read in preparation for their appointments and share with their provider.
Collaborate with MOBE Guides to help participants thrive (even without medications).
MOBE Pharmacists and Guides work together to help participants—it’s a very collaborative effort. Sometimes participants come to me before engaging with a Guide and we start by talking about medications and health conditions. But most of the time, a participant’s MOBE experience starts with a Guide who focuses on things like diet and exercise or trying to improve sleep. Those are important and fundamental parts of making sure that the participant is keeping health conditions well controlled—and it can help participants avoid medications in many cases.
People don’t always just have to resort to medication if they can make lifestyle changes themselves. With medications, there’s always a risk of potential side effects or drug interactions. So, if we can help someone avoid medications and focus on lifestyle changes, that’s where we want to be.