Where Everybody Knows Your Name

FHCP pharmacy team builds strong member relationships.

Like a doctor who makes house calls, it’s almost impossible these days to find a pharmacist who is able to take the time to get to know the customers he or she serves as anything more than a name they place on the label of a prescription bottle.

That, though, is precisely what Michael Parsons and other policyholders of Florida Health Care Plans have found at pharmacies inside FHCP locations in Palm Bay and Titusville.

Florida Health Care Plans has created one-stop medical shops where members can see a primary care physician and have prescriptions filled by a pharmacist who’s eager to build relationships with the people they serve.

“A lot of pharmacies are pushing pharmacists to move fast and not get to know the people whose prescriptions they fill, like a lot of doctors do these days,” Michael laments. “But the Florida Health Care Plans pharmacy in the Palm Bay office is not like that at all.”

Jason Zealy, PharmD, CPh, RPh, is the pharmacist at the Palm Bay location.

“He’s answered a million questions for me and my wife about the medicines we’ve been prescribed,” Michael notes. “He always takes time for us and is really, really helpful. In fact, the whole team there is especially helpful.”

Michael hasn’t always benefitted from so much help. A 51-year-old musician whose life was turned upside down 15 years ago when he sustained more than 20 bone breaks in an automobile accident, he’s required to take several medications.

On several occasions, the negative effect that one medication has on another has led to problems for him. Since becoming a policyholder with Florida Health Care Plans and discovering its Palm Bay pharmacy, those problems are a thing of the past.

“Those bad drug interactions that I’ve had are one of the reasons I like to be able to talk with my pharmacist face to face,” Michael says. “At the Palm Bay office, I get that because Jason always takes time to talk to me. He’s great that way.”

Benefits Aplenty

The personal attention Michael and his wife receive from Jason and his staff at the Palm Bay pharmacy is one of several benefits that plan members receive from having a pharmacy and physician in one location.
This unique model also allows members to eliminate the commute they usually make to pick up a prescription at a local pharmacy or grocery store. In that and other ways, the model is a time-saver.

“Let’s say someone has a prescription for labs or bloodwork,” Jason suggests. “To get that done at a place like Quest you usually need an appointment. Once you get there, you usually have to wait half an hour or longer in the lobby before anybody sees you.

“But if you’re a Florida Health Care Plans member, you can walk in here at any time and get your labs drawn right away, usually without any wait because we have those services right here as well. To me, that’s one of the greatest conveniences this model offers.”

Another convenience is clarity. It’s not unusual, after all, for a doctor to prescribe a medication that isn’t covered by insurance or that the patient can’t take for one reason or another. If a problem of that nature occurs at the Florida Health Care Plans locations in Palm Bay and Titusville, it can be resolved immediately because the doctor and pharmacist work together in the same facility.

“That’s one of the best things about having a physician right here on the same care team,” says Jason, who works alongside Kenneth J. Saluck, DO.

“If something’s not covered or there’s a typo or the directions aren’t clear, I can get it taken care of immediately. That’s a lot better than having to spend three or five days playing phone or fax tag with the doctor trying to get things cleared up. And it’s obviously better for patients because they don’t have to wait for me to get that problem resolved.

As Michael can attest, the benefits extend to prescription refills, too.

“I had a situation the other day where I didn’t realize I was down to my last pill,” Michael relates. “I called the pharmacy, and immediately after that I called the doctor’s office to try and push things along because it’s a medication I take every day. Well, I wasn’t even done with the call to the doctor when I got a text from Jason saying my medication was ready. They really take it seriously as far as getting you what you need as fast as they can.”

Going the Extra Mile

Another convenience members can expect: lower drug costs.

“For the most part, Florida Health Care Plans members are going to get the lowest price on medications right here,” Jason confirms. “In most cases, it’s going to be $5 or $10 less than what they’d pay elsewhere.

“I once had a member who was paying about $150 more for a three-month supply of a medication than he would have paid had he purchased it from us. Sometimes, that savings can be quite significant.”

Michael Ball, PharmD, is the pharmacy manager at the Florida Health Care Plans location in Titusville, where Chaithanya Deepthi Buddha, MD, is the primary care physician. He says he’ll go the extra mile to ensure members get the best price possible on medications.

“There are times when patients come to me and say, I signed up for a bronze-level plan and I just can’t afford this medication because it’s a high-deductible plan,” Michael relates. “In those cases, I’ll call up the broker and say, Hey, we’ve got a patient here that needs some help. What can you do for them?

“That’s one of the things I really love about working here, because I have a hand in making sure something positive happens for the patient. When you’re working at another pharmacy, you’re handcuffed. But here, we can make one phone call that can go a long way toward getting patients the help they need at a price they can afford.”

Jason goes the extra mile, too, regularly searching the internet for coupons offered by drug manufacturers that can be applied to the cost of a prescription.

“That can change the cost of a prescription from $50 to just $5 or $10,” he notes. “But you’re not likely to get that kind of service at a big chain pharmacy. They’re going to tell you, It’s $50, take it or leave it.

“That’s one of the reasons I love working here. I have time to get to know the patients, and the patients appreciate that because I’ve had so many tell me how thankful they are for the service they get here.

“And it’s nice to hear that feedback, where they express their appreciation for what they’re getting, because at big chain pharmacies you’re treated like cattle. But not here. You’re not just a name or number here. We treat you like you’re part of our family.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. js


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