A century ago, the drugstore was a cornerstone of many town squares. The pharmacist wasn’t degreed, but he was most often an affable alchemist mixing tonics and elixirs by hand to cure whatever ailed you. A soda fountain served up sweet drinks—their fizzy flavors masking the unpleasant taste of the sometimes-strange ingredients pharmacists blended into their “healing” concoctions.
Half a century later, better-educated pharmacists and a federally regulated drug industry had changed things—a lot. Medications became more precise, more targeted remedies. Compounding by hand gave way to mass production by drug companies. Legislators charged the Food and Drug Administration with overseeing safety and quality controls.
Still, many local-owned pharmacies hung on and remained popular for good reason.
It was likely that your neighborhood pharmacist knew your name, had time to answer questions, and happily meted out info and advice to ensure you understood your meds and took them properly. For many people, the pharmacist was their most accessible healthcare provider.
The 1980s ushered in a seismic shift. Chain drugstores began huge expansions from coast to coast. They gobbled up big chunks of the prescription drug retail market. Suddenly, personalized care took a back seat to convenience.
“Looking at the current landscape, we wanted to fill that void and bring a patient-first approach back to pharmacy services,” says Urology Partners of North Texas partner Clifton Vestal, MD. “Everything we do at UPNT is committed to helping our patients with the two Qs—quality and quantity of life. And that includes pharmacy services. We’ve eliminated the middle-man that affects how quickly medicines are dispensed and how much they cost. Just as important, we’re restoring the pharmacist’s role as trusted advocate to patient care.”
Located inside UPNT’s Arlington Clinic, UPNT Pharmacy has tapped pharmacist Staycey Chandy to lead the charge. With more than a decade of experience, there is a reason she feels right at home at UPNT Pharmacy.
“I worked in the retail pharmacy environment for about 10 years and I loved it,” she admits. “I had my regular patients who I loved caring for. Sadly, retail is not the same as when I started. Patient care is definitely missing. Now it’s focused on simply dispensing medications and quickly moving patients in and out. I missed being able to talk with patients and offering help. I’m glad I can do that again at UPNT.”
Patient First, Always
Everything about UPNT Pharmacy reflects this mantra. When a patient needs a medication, their urologist sends the prescription directly to the UPNT Pharmacy while the patient is still in the exam room.
“If the patient is seeing one of the care providers at the Arlington Clinic, they can come straight from their doctor’s office to the pharmacy window. Their prescription will be ready in about five minutes,” Chandy says. “If you go to CVS or Walgreens, the wait times are often at least an hour.”
Plus, medications are dispensed with the utmost discretion. No one yells out, ‘Viagra’ to a crowd of waiting individuals.
For patients who see doctors at one of UPNT’s other clinics, prescriptions are mailed directly to their home at no cost. “They usually arrive within two days,” Chandy notes. “For patients who take really expensive cancer medications, we ship those free of charge right to their door via FedEx for extra piece of mind.”
Pharmacist, Trusted Patient Advocate
Along with convenience, pharmacy patients enjoy something else—easy access to Chandy. “I’m easily available and love serving our patients,” she says. “My team and I like educating our patients about their medicines. If, for some reason, a patient doesn’t get all of their questions answered by their doctor or care provider, we can get in touch with them much faster than any other pharmacy. We’re always happy to track down answers.”
More Affordable Medicines
UPNT’s approach to patient-first care also means its pharmacy is committed to the best possible pricing. “We believe patients deserve excellent care without the burden or worry over exorbitant prices,” says Chelsea Holder, project manager. For us, patient-conscious and cost-conscious medical care do coexist.”
With inflation rearing its ugly head everywhere, the pharmacy takes proactive steps to make the prescription medicines prescribed by UPNT urologists more affordable.
“Our cash price is comparable, and often lower than many insurance providers’ prices and the cash prices at other pharmacies. This is helpful across the board, but especially for men who take erectile dysfunction (ED) medications that aren’t covered by insurance,” Chandy explains.
“We do market pricing on ED drugs every quarter to make sure our prices are competitive with the top five pharmacies,” Holder adds. “We are always at the top of the pack in terms of lowest costs.”
Along with drug prices, copays create havoc for many patients. Chandy finds ways to reduce the sticker shock. “Some insurance companies will pay for a 90-day supply of a medication. Instead of charging a copay for one fill, say $100, they’ll charge a copay for three fills—$300. I don’t make that patient pay $300. Instead, I cash it out so the they can get the 90-day supply for the cash price of $36 instead of the $300 their insurance provider wants to charge,” she says.
Chandy tackles sky-high copays another way, too.
“Oral medications to treat prostate cancer are expensive. I had one patient who needed two medications,” she recalls. “His copay for each med was $1,500 per month—a total of $3,000 a month in copays. I did some research and found foundation grants I could apply for on his behalf. Fortunately, he was able to get his prescriptions covered with the help of grant money. It’s amazing to help people out that way.”
“Because we own the pharmacy ourselves, we can move quickly, be creative and take steps to change improve the patient experience,” Holder adds. “It’s a major convenience for patients to know their pharmacy is owned and managed by their urologist. The feedback we receive from patients can be incorporated without all the red tape. Their opinions have a direct impact on the way things run versus a big-box retail pharmacy where one patient’s comment or concern probably won’t have much effect on the pharmacy’s workflow.”
With the success of the its launch at the Arlington Clinic, plans are in the works for additional pharmacy locations in other UPNT clinics.
Let Us Serve You
The UPNT Pharmacy is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call us! (817) 890-9090