What Family-Owned Pharmacies Offer Their Customers
Local, independent pharmacies account for a significant number of the nation's retail pharmacies. Whereas retail chain pharmacies primarily answer to stockholders on how the businesses are performing financially, family- and pharmacist-owned pharmacies base their success on providing their customers with patient-centered care and exemplary customer service.
Personalized Customer Service
A family-owned pharmacy is a place where the pharmacists take the time to learn more about the customer's health. They get to know you on a first-name basis in an effort to provide more personalized care. As part of the relationship-building process, a family-owned pharmacy may reach out to its customers by offering additional services such as:
Flu shots and other vaccines
Durable medical equipment
Consultations with the pharmacist on how to manage a chronic health condition
Discounts on over-the-counter drugs and other retail items
Some independent pharmacies also allow their customers to open charge accounts. With the rising costs of prescription medications, many customers find it easier to pay the bill at the end of the month. Even though charge accounts may be an option available to customers, you may have to inquire, as they aren't always advertised to the general public.
More Competitive Prices
Local, family-owned pharmacies often offer customers more competitive pricing and better value for prescription medications. Franchise pharmacies often charge higher prices for many of the drugs available than independently-owned drugstores. Large chain pharmacies that offer discounted prices on certain drugs may charge an annual membership fee.
By getting your prescriptions filled at an independent drugstore, you may be able to haggle over prices – something you can't do at a major chain pharmacy. Usually, the mission of family-owned pharmacies is to provide their customers with the best care – sometimes at the cost of losing money on some prescriptions.
While in some cases online drugstores may offer drugs at lower prices than smaller, family-owned pharmacies, buying prescription drugs over the Internet can be risky. When dealing with an unknown pharmacy that operates from a remote location, you could be buying counterfeit drugs, medicines that aren't the right dosage, or drugs that contain harmful ingredients.
It's frustrating when you go to have a prescription filled only to have the pharmacist tell you that the medication is out of stock – something that can happen frequently at large, chain pharmacies. When it happens at an independent pharmacy, the medication usually is in stock within a day or less. Family-owned drugstores usually have more control over what's in stock, as they know what's happening in the business at all times and do their own ordering, purchasing, and pricing of inventory.
Many elderly and people who are too ill to drive to the pharmacy themselves to pick up prescriptions benefit from delivery services that family-owned pharmacies offer. Although large chain pharmacies often offer home-delivery services, home delivery typically means using a mail order service.
Generally, you are required to order a 90-day supply of drugs your health plan covers, which are listed on a maintenance drug list. Therefore, your doctor must write a prescription for a 90-day supply of each medication you need. Prescriptions take several days from the date you order – often up to a week or more – to arrive in the mail, so it's important to order early enough to prevent running out. Refills may take fewer days than new prescriptions to arrive.
For more information, contact a family-owned pharmacy in your area.