The Importance of Technical Communications in Pharmacy

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Alexa Lemon is a pharmacist at Walgreen’s in Ruston, Louisiana. She started out as a pharmacy technician ten and a half years ago. She has now been a pharmacist for two years with a degree from McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University. Today, she practices her love of helping people through ensuring that they are properly given the medicines that will make them healthier.

What types of communication are used in a Pharmacy?

On an average day, Alexa uses several types of communication such as reading, writing, listening and speaking. However, according to her, listening is the most predominant. She said, “It’s critical that we listen in the pharmacy to prevent mistakes.” Alexa stresses that oral communication is more important than technical communication in the pharmacy. “Depending on how you speak to a patient can influence their attitude,” Lemon says.  With certain situations concerning confusing things such as insurance or drug consultations, putting it in terms that the patient can understand really seems to help the patients.

What are Some Examples of Writing in the Pharmacy?

Alexa doesn’t write big, fancy documents or proposals. Rather, she tends to write a lot of notes, to both coworkers and patients. A common form of written communication in the pharmacy is from “transfer prescriptions when patients come from different pharmacies.” For example, when Walgreen’s is the only pharmacy in the Ruston area that currently has a certain type of medication in stock, the other pharmacies will call to transfer their prescriptions to her store. However, the majority of her written communication is done electronically, such as completing orders and answering emails and faxes concerning certain patients or prescriptions.

 

What Happens When There is a Lack of Communication?

A lack of communication can occur in several different aspects in the pharmacy. They are all detrimental and can “create chaos.” No matter where there is a lack of communication in the pharmacy, it results in the employees redoing their work and applying extra effort to right the wrongs. When there is a lack of communication with patients, it’s usually from the lack of explanation of hard-to-understand topics or the employees being dismissive to details concerning patients. This usually results in the patients get frustrated. When there is a lack of communication with prescribers, patients may end up with the wrong medication or the wrong dosage of medication. This could ultimately not help their problem, worsen their problem, or seriously threaten their life. A lack of communication with coworkers can lead to misleading information to patients. For example, wait time is a common area of miscommunication in the pharmacy. Sometimes technicians fail to communicate that a customer is waiting in the store for their medication and the patient will get impatient if it takes longer than the promised waiting time.

 

Are There Communication Barriers in the Pharmacy?

Just like any workplace, communication barriers exist and create difficulties in the pharmacy as well. Of course, there are the obvious communication barriers, such as language barriers or even how each patient responds differently to how you personally communicate. A major communication barrier in the pharmacy here in Ruston is with the blind customers. Ruston is home to a school for the blind and the students are very interactive within the community. “They can’t read my handwritten notes or even the directions on the pill bottle,” Alexa states. To overcome this barrier, she must use voice recorders for them that are attached to the bottom of the pill bottles, and read out in Alexa’s voice all the details concerning the medication.

Katelyn Dobbins, Guest Blogger

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