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Are you treating your patient or the symptom?


When a patient arrives with a problem, they are, quite naturally, looking for a solution. And as healthcare providers, pharmacists want to help quickly, efficiently and effectively.


Research shows however that by spending a few extra minutes with your patient and adopting a patient-centred approach to behavioural change, healthcare professionals are better equipped to identify key times for intervention and improve patient health outcomes. (Refer to Source)


Having an active listening protocol in place to understand the patient’s problem and their readiness to act on a solution beyond treating the symptom at hand.


The tricky part is that conversations like this may not be limited to just one interaction – they may happen over the course of months or even years. By documenting these encounters over time, a holistic view of the patient continues to develop – and when it comes to identifying signs that your patients are open to make a significant behavioural change, you’re able to provide high value.


Not only does this strengthen your pharmacy’s relationship with the patient but also provides a window to dramatically improve patient outcomes.


Consider this example:


Bob’s patient journey


Visit 1: Ready to make a change

Bob comes into your pharmacy and explains: “I need to quit smoking, I can’t enjoy any of the things that my friends are doing, I want to play footy like I used to without running out of breath every 2 minutes and I know I can quit for good this time.”

Here Bob has indicated in his language that he is open to change – it is a necessity “I need to quit” he has the desire and a reason “I want to quit so I can play footy like I used to” and believes he has the ability “I know I can quit for good”.

The pharmacist speaking with Bob, recognises this willingness to change, and asks more about his current behaviour to help him further articulate his goal to quit smoking. The pharmacist goes on to explain the different options Bob has to get support to improve his health outcomes. The pharmacist speaking with Bob records the conversation and key outcomes from the conversation.


Visit 2: Ongoing complications

Now Bob is at the pharmacy again, frustrated and angry because despite having been off cigarettes for some time now he’s still having some trouble breathing. He’s annoyed because although his health has improved since quitting, he’s still getting out of breath when he plays sports with his friends. He can’t keep up with his mates – and some of them are 5 and 10 years older than he is.

Another member of your team is speaking with Bob and looking at his records notices that he used to be a smoker and that his shortness of breath was one of his concerns and motivations for quitting. This pharmacist validates Bob’s frustration and explains there are other things that could be causing this problem, suggesting COPD screening and refers Bob onto a GP for diagnosis.

At the GP, Bob is diagnosed with COPD and is prescribed treatment.

As a result your pharmacy has strengthened the relationship, increased revenue and provided a holistic, patient-centred solution to Bob so that his overall health is improved and the symptoms that are most prominent and concerning for him are addressed.


By employing a few active listening techniques and keeping good records of your conversations, Bob is one source of long-term success which won’t be walking out the door.

Click below to see how Bob’s patient journey increases your bottom dollar and to identify other high-value patients that will benefit from treating your patient, not just the symptom.




August 30th 2018

Are you letting long-term success walk out your door?

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Artwork by GuildLink | Philip Tutty

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PO Box A284 Sydney South NSW 1235

p: +61 2 8222 4444

f: +61 2 8222 4499

e: info@guildlink.com.au

Level 6, 20 Bond Street, Sydney NSW 2000   |   PO Box A284 Sydney South NSW 1235

p: +61 2 8222 4444   f: +61 2 8222 4499   e: info@guildlink.com.au

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