Pharmacy in the media: Perspectives, opportunities

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the “10 Things Drugstores Won’t Tell You.” We’ve all come to expect, whether it’s this article or another, that the consumer media will often exaggerate risks.

Information a publication displays may be presented with sensationalized half-truths. Facts are facts, but a positive fact can be worded negatively and vice versa—or used out of context.

If you look past the subheads—which attempt to get the readers’ attention, and are often written by someone other than the author of the article—the text presents some interesting considerations for consumers. These considerations (negative or positive) and general articles about the expanding role of pharmacists are a great opportunity to engage patients and continue the conversation.

It is important that the media is talking about pharmacists and pharmacies and the opportunities that these vital health care team members present for patients. Our collective role is to continually work with these writers and the public to ensure the stories do the most good to enhance patient awareness and patient care.

As health care providers, we need to frequently and continually help patients interpret such articles and the constant flow of information on the Internet and in the news everyday. We’ll follow up with the author to continue promoting pharmacists’ valuable role in health care and public health.

The general public may have learned to be a bit skeptical of sensational headlines. As professionals, our job is to help them put that important information back into context. All news about pharmacists, pharmacies, medications, health care reform, and expanding roles for health care providers present opportunities to engage your patient base about what you do for them. Use it to help them become better-informed patients.

Regarding the WSJ article, here are a few thoughts I’ve heard from members so far:

  • Post copies of the article in your pharmacy with a note letting patients know you can help them understand the information presented on a deeper, truer level.
  • You can do the same with all those articles about the scary adverse effects of medications or the new black box warning that such-and-such medication is required to carry. Your patients are reading the information, but if you let them know you can help them interpret that data, you may engage them in a new conversation.

I would love to hear your ideas about how pharmacists in hospitals, community pharmacies, and elsewhere can use this story to promote a healthy dialogue.