What do pharmacists want?

pulling_out_hairIt’s a simple question with a simple answer. In today’s pharmacy environment pharmacists want to do more “clinical” activities and distance themselves from the physical pharmacy. See, I told you it was simple.

For the last several months I’ve been listening to people tell me what pharmacists, and pharmacies, want. I find it interesting that most of the opinions differ from mine. No big deal as opinions are opinions, remember? But today I had a brief, albeit passionate discussion over what pharmacists want. The people telling me what pharmacists wanted weren’t healthcare professionals. They were engineers, sales people, etc. I know that comes off a bit elitist, but it’s not. I don’t pretend to know what an engineer knows, so perhaps they shouldn’t pretend to know what I know. Fair? I think so.

The discussion today centered on a comment that I made regarding a certain product. I mentioned that the product was “a dog” and thought that perhaps its time had come and gone. The individuals on the other side of the discussion said the product was “still selling” so it must be what pharmacists wanted. Well, that makes sense, right? Uh, well, no.

Let me give you an analogy. Let’s say you needed a car and you had two options. Option one is a rusted-out 1971 Ford Pinto** with retreads. Option two is a 1972 Ford Pinto in pristine condition with new paint, new tires, new upholstery, etc. Option one is more expensive even though it’s a piece of junk. Option two cost less and even comes with a warranty, while option one does not. Which would you buy? Unless you’re brain dead you’d purchase option two. Does that mean that everyone wants a 1972 Ford Pinto with new paint, new tires and new upholstery? Heck no. People want BMWs, Mercedes, or in my case a new Ford F-350 PSD 4×4. If it was up to engineers, marketing and sales people we’d continue pumping out 1972 Ford Pinto’s with newer and newer features bolted on all over the place.

Healthcare systems, and therefore pharmacies, chose one system over another because one is less crappy than the other, i.e. the ‘72 pristine Pinto over the ‘71 piece-of-junk Pinto. Unfortunately we don’t have any bimmers in pharmacy automation and technology. Each system is just as craptacular as the next. Pharmacies simply chose the best available option.

When I was a real pharmacist working on the floor I didn’t care what automation and technology we used in the pharmacy. You could have had monkeys throwing medication bottles out the window and rodents running on hamster wheels to generate electricity as long as it was legal and it gave me more time out of the main pharmacy. My opinion changed as my hobby took shape and turned into a profession, but until that point in my career I could not have cared less.

Until someone begins thinking way outside the box this is the way things will be. Does it mean that the automation and technology we have today is good? No, it simply means that no one has designed anything better than a Pinto. Just sayin’.


**Bit of trivia – I actually owned one of these for a while in the early nineties. My wife called in “the death trap” and refused to ride in it, but it was my only form of transportation at the time.

2 thoughts on “What do pharmacists want?”

  1. Well put. The Pinto analogy is spot on. I sometimes feel like, if pharmacists weren’t making such a good salary, they would be more inclined to fight for change in their profession. Right now, it seems like pharmacists, in certain sectors are almost being paid to keep quiet. A little, extreme? Sure…But there’s a hint of truth there in my opinion.

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