Healthguard sets benchmark for pharmacies

Wednesday, 10 December 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

There are many components in the healthcare sector i.e. state medical care private medical care, dispensaries run by doctors etc. However, a key component of this very important sector is pharmacies that dispense medicines prescribed by medical practitioners. The pharmacy is the point where patients meet their cure and for that very reason the pharmacist dispensing life saving medicines from behind his counter becomes of vital importance. Pharmacists are the specialists in medicines who understand their composition, chemical and physical properties, manufacture, uses, side effects and interactions with food and other medicines. It is they, who are able to educate the public on the correct use of medicinesprescribed to them by doctors to ensure their health. A pharmacist of this calibre is not only one with experience but also one that holds a recognised qualification that allows them to practice. Healthguard, the exclusive chain of pharmacies run by the Sunshine Holdings PLC, says that it is imperative for every pharmacy to have a qualified pharmacist in place to advise and guide their customers. “This is something that we practice as a standard in all our Healthguard outlets. Not only do we hire qualified pharmacists, but we also offer training for our pharmaceutical assistants to become qualified pharmacists. In practice, sometimes a pharmacist is the first person a patient consults even prior to seeing a doctor. Therefore, pharmacists play an advisory role to patients and may even offer solutions and remedies for a minor problem over the counter, which is why they have to have a thorough knowledge that would make them accountable for their actions,” says Healthguard Head of operations Infiyaz Ali. Apart from the right qualifications InfiyazAli says that there are several other qualities that are essential for a pharmacist. “Having the Right Attitude is a must, since pharmacist often interact with customerswho are ill or worried about a family member or friend’s illness; so they need to be caring and sensitive to customer needs; they need to have the right communication skills in order to speak on a professional level with their peers and doctors, as well as in layman terms across language barriers to customers. Almost every pharmacist works with people so it is important that they have the right Interpersonal Skills as well as Leadership Skills as they are likely to be responsible for managing staff,” he says. Other characteristics Healthguard insists that their pharmacists posses are professionalism and ethical behaviour; ability to adhere to standards and best practices set by the company, good analytical skills, an excellent memory and counseling skills all of which are important when dealing with a specialised clientele such as theirs. “Pharmacists’ decisions and actions involve human life and their well being and they must be constantly vigilant to avoid errors that could endanger patients’ lives or reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. A good pharmacistwould always follow stringent procedures and redundancy checks to avoid error. They need good analytical skills to review a prescription and understand the purpose for which the medication is prescribed; and a great pharmacist would always be able to recall hundreds of drugs by name, their side effects and interactions,” says Ali. Attention to detail and a solid scientific backgroundincluding chemistry, biology, and biochemistry, are also important assetsfor any qualified pharmacist as they would need that knowledge in their everyday work and this knowledge would also help them to easily grasp new scientific concepts. Therefore a pharmacist like a doctor in the medical profession has to continue their education if they are to become better at what they do. It is not a prerequisite for them in order to keep their license but by getting to know new trends in the industry and learning about research and development would help them to further advance their careers.Healthguard also requires their pharmacists to have computer skills or offers them training to use the software programsthey have installed for bill processing, locating drug information and managing inventory, amongst other tasks.