Who is the best consultant pharmacist? Have you ever asked yourself if you’re working with the best consultant pharmacist? How would you know? Is there a way to make that determination or find out? The answer is yes! This week I will discuss seven ways to decide if your pharmacy consultant is the best one for your organization.
Just recently I received a call from a potential client. She was looking for an expert consultant pharmacist and was referred to me by an existing client who said I was the best at what I do. Of course, I’m always flattered and humbled when an existing client refers my services and feels loved and supported. I work hard to be the best at what I do, but this call made me wonder—what is it that I do that made the client think I’m the best?
After reflecting and asking others about their criteria for making referrals, I realized there are several ways to distinguish a pharmacist who calls themselves a consultant from someone who is specialized and expert at what they do. In a previous post, I asked the question “Are you working with a highly qualified consultant pharmacist?”. In this post, I take it a step further to help you determine if you are truly working with the best.
Seven ways to tell if your consultant pharmacist is the best:
- They have an authoritative website:
Think about it! When was the last time you used the services of a company who didn’t have a website? 1990? Today, you search for a service on Google, get a list of results and then start looking at their websites. It’s during this review that you do the majority of your due diligence. This is the first step in helping you determine if the person or company you’re looking at is best in class or a fly by night operation. Was their website just an extension of their business card or did it offer substantive information? Did they provide expertise or tools right on the website? Do they answer the most commonly asked questions you may have?
If you were looking for an electrician, wouldn’t you be more comfortable hiring one who has an informative and easy to navigate website where he or she provides expert guidance on some of the most common electrical issues? Wouldn’t this inspire more confidence and give you additional evidence, allowing you to make an informed decision? Of course, it would! So, have you done the same with your consultant pharmacist? Your consultant pharmacist should be overseeing your pharmaceutical services and helping you ensure safe medication management so that your patients are safe and you maintain regulatory compliance. Don’t skip this step and leave yourself vulnerable to what could be a large area of liability for you and your facility.
- They have great online reviews:
When you did your Google search you came up with a few possible choices and investigated their website. Have you checked to see what others think of this person or company? We all look at reviews when buying anything online. I bet the last time you bought something on Amazon you read many reviews to determine what others though and whether that product was best for you. I suggest you do the same with your consultant pharmacist. Do they have any online reviews or testimonials? If they do, look at what other clients say. You can often glean a lot of information from what other clients are saying. What if they don’t have any reviews? That could speak volumes too.
- They’re specialized:
Does your consultant pharmacist specialize in your field? Do they have the credentials to prove it? Consultant pharmacists generally specialize in one of the following four categories: Regulatory, Quality, Technical, or Clinical. At OctariusRx our expertise spans all four, which benefits our diverse business partners. Remember that any pharmacist can call themselves a consultant…that doesn’t make them qualified. Ask about their specific expertise and credentials.
- Their education:
What current level of knowledge, professional degrees and continuing education has the consultant pharmacist earned in their specialized field of consulting? At a minimum, a bachelor of science in pharmacy is absolute necessary, but a doctorate in pharmacy (PharmD) is the next step up. What has your pharmacy consultant done since graduating to improve their skills and develop new ones? Have they published an article in a peer-reviewed journal? Do they speak at industry conferences? These could be indicators that your consultant pharmacist is constantly improving their skills, increasing their knowledge, and staying current in an extremely complicated and ever-changing area.
- They’re on the leading edge:
The healthcare field requires expertise and constant vigilance to stay on the leading edge. There are many followers and people just getting by. There are also many who once led the way and no longer have the time or energy to stay at the top of their game. Although we are grateful to this group of trailblazers, you need someone who is still on their “A” game. Don’t work with someone based on a reputation from years ago. What you don’t know can hurt you. What you don’t know can be a liability. Work with a pharmacist that has experience and is still growing. In medicine, there is no such thing as standing still…you’re either staying ahead or falling behind. Partner with someone who is leading the way. Some practical tips: Avoid someone who only moonlights as a consultant pharmacist and has little experience in your specialty. Avoid someone who is semi-retired. These are the folks who may be trying to stay busy and make a few extra dollars but bring little value to your organization.
- They provide extensive benchmarking services:
Not every consultant pharmacist can do this and it’s a good differentiating factor. The folks who are sole practitioners or moonlighting on a part-time basis generally don’t have the bandwidth or clients to provide you with meaningful data. There are even big companies that either can’t or don’t provide benchmarking. If they do provide this service, you want to make sure the data is meaningful to you. Our benchmarking report has always been comprehensive and actionable, but we recently revamped our data collection and streamlined our presentation to better serve the needs of our clients. Our new and improved benchmarking service is more robust, and we routinely add new facilities which provides more data points for comparison. In addition to a new look, our presentation now includes expanded data points like specialty specific averages, industry trends, and additional drug cost comparisons.
- Their value matches their price:
Once you’ve narrowed your choices down, it will be time to connect with your potential candidates to ask a few more questions to allow you to make a final determination. Most consultant pharmacists will be willing to provide you with a free initial consultation just like we do. If you are satisfied with the services offered, you are done, right? Wrong! We all know that the final question is always going to be price. This is a tricky subject because there are many different price structures in place. Some will charge hourly and others a flat fee. The important thing to establish here is what services are included in the price you’re paying. It doesn’t matter how cheap it is if there is no value in the services received. It is important to ask questions and make sure you know exactly what you’re getting. I’ve received calls from potential clients saying that they received a low initial price from another consultant pharmacist, but by the time they added up all the different charges, the bill was much higher than anticipated. Our pricing is completely transparent and there are no hidden charges…you will know exactly what you’re getting and how much it will cost you ahead of time.
Not quite sure yet? Ask to speak with existing clients. Any consultant pharmacist should be willing to provide references upon request. This is a final opportunity for you to clear up any questions you may have and help reassure you of your final decision. We provide multiple references and are always happy to share the feedback of our clients.
We recommend every facility work with a qualified consultant pharmacist. Some facilities already do, but others don’t realize what their missing…either because they are not currently working with one, or because the person they are working with is not really the best at what they do. If you were looking for a new dentist or mechanic, you’d want to find the best one, right? We recommend you do the same with your consultant pharmacist. We don’t want you to just meet the requirements, we want you to exceed them. We’d love the opportunity to show you how we are the best at what we do. Once you’ve checked out my qualifications, give us a call and let us help you achieve patient safety and survey success.
The Consultant Pharmacists at OctariusRx provide guidance on safe medication management, survey readiness and cost savings to ambulatory healthcare facilities/surgery centers, senior care facilities and pharmacies We also help individual patients optimize their medications to improve their quality of life and save money. Contact us for assistance.