What catches the eye is owner and pharmacist Jason Foil’s fashion – a bright blue polo and khaki shorts. He laughs as he explains his work attire. “Why do people wear ties and lab coats in a pharmacy? One, it’s because it’s what they’ve always done. But second, it identifies you as the pharmacist.” We nod in agreement to his explanation. Jason continues, “And I always felt that if I engage my patients like I should be engaging them, and I’m letting them know that I’m the pharmacist, it won’t matter what I wear. When they come in, they’ll know I’m the pharmacist if I’m doing my job correctly.”
Patient engagement is the foundation of Jason’s practice. The 25,000 citizens of Lumberton, North Carolina certainly didn’t need another pharmacy along with the three other independent locations and six chain stores. He knew there was a distinct need for pharmacies on the cutting edge of synchronization and adherence, and he knew his pharmacy could offer the solution. “Working in my main store, I figured that 80% of my headache was 20% of my patients, and I thought if I could remove 80% of my headache from that equation, I could serve my patients better,” Jason begins. “And I had this vision in my head of how we could engage patients at their home.” This birthed HomeRX, a closed-door location completely centered on improving patient adherence. HomeRX is a free service Jason offers to his patients in need of medication management, and if the patient prefers, they can opt for home delivery, as well. Jason is only two years into HomeRX, and he anticipates his program will have a positive effect on the Lumberton community. “I’m excited about the way we can interact with patients and the way we can cultivate those relationships and also help our physicians, providers, nurse practitioners, or even our hospital,” he says. Despite the closed-door setting, HomeRX paves the way for better patient care. Its focus on automatically filling and delivering maintenance medications allows more time in Lumberton Drug stores for proactive conversations with patients.
Jason has even gone a step further and incorporated access to a physician into his pharmacy. According to Jason, rural and low-economic communities have patients who rarely see their primary care doctors. This lack of patient-doctor relationship and accountability is detrimental to patient health. An easily accessible clinic, on the other hand, would prompt patients to stop by while in Lumberton Drug and check in with the physician. The big idea, however, is not synchronization or adherence. “A lot of people hear ‘synchronization’ and ‘adherence’ as buzz words. They create opportunities for you to engage your patients in a manner you probably are not doing now. And that’s where I don’t see them as the result; they’re the tools that will get you to where you want to be, which is making a difference on your patients’ lives.” A visit to the pharmacy is an experience in itself, but Jason wants to take patient engagement to a deeper level. He recounts a vivid childhood memory: “When I was a kid, I went to this bookshop that was called The Intimate Bookshop. I thought that was the coolest name for a bookshop. It sounded really close. Intimate Bookshop, you know? You could go in and walk to the back and they would have all the children’s books and all the adult novels over here and my dad would go over there. I would just get lost in that thing reading books. I was eight years old, and here I am, forty-one years old, and do you know what I remember about that bookshop? I remember that the floors were creaky, that every time you took a step, it was like eee er eee. You may say, why is that important? Because that book not only hit my mind as I visually took it in, I heard it. I smelled it. I felt it. It was totally interactive. I was immersed in this experience.”
The key to such an immersive experience was touching all five senses, which builds relationships over time. “Because, what happens when you get the relationship? You get their trust. When you get their trust, what do you get? You get the outcomes,” Jason explains further. From offering ice cream to taking the time to listen to his patients, Jason and his team offer a pharmacy experience like no other, guaranteeing better health and lasting memories.