March Madness
By: SPA Executive Vice President Steven Webbenhurst

It’s that time of year again as the days get longer, we “spring ahead” with our clocks, and March Madness overtakes the weather as the hot conversation topic. March Madness brings together some of the top college basketball teams in the country, showcasing superior athletic talent. Competition runs rampant and most people have a favorite team they cheer for. Some teams always seem to reach the “Sweet 16” and there are always a few underdogs that make it, and are the new kids on the block.

When I moved to Spokane in 1993, I was part of the new kids on the pharmacy block. Walgreens was new to Spokane and some of the regulars weren’t so happy to have us here. I remember calling to transfer prescriptions from competitors only to be told there were no refills remaining, yet the patient’s bottle showed something different. We were competition, and especially for independent pharmacies, we changed the pharmacy landscape in Spokane.

But just as that landscape has continued to change, so has the attitude of pharmacists and pharmacies. Every day I transfer prescriptions in from other pharmacies and transfer some out to others as well. My focus is that I want what is best for the patient. Sure I hate to lose business by transferring prescriptions out to other pharmacies, but in many cases it just makes sense. Perhaps the other pharmacy is more convenient for a patient, or is their “regular” pharmacy. Being located in a medical complex, I fill a lot of prescriptions for patients that are being dismissed from the hospital or from one of the providers in my building (so it’s convenient at the time for the patient).

But I think the mindset in pharmacies has changed in the last few years. As we perform MTM services, vaccinate patients, facilitate prior authorizations, coordinate patient care and other functions for them, I think we all have what is best for the patient at the forefront of our mind. I see this regularly in my IPPE and APPE student pharmacists as well. This is a focus for them in pharmacy school, and WSU does an outstanding job.

Although there will always be competition between pharmacies for business (so that we all stay in business), I think the real competition today is to provide the best service and care for our patients. That is the focus in pharmacy today: service and care for our patients.

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