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Innovation HUB: Top 10 tips to collaborate more effectively with physicians

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Pharmacists and physicians in the community setting have historically communicated mostly for the purpose of taking verbal prescriptions over the phone, clarifying prescription details, or following up on concerns of patients. 

By Tom Smiley B.Sc. Phm., Pharm.D.

In the current transition to a model of primary healthcare based on team-based care and increased scope of practice for pharmacists, there is an expectation that the quantity and quality of inter-professional communication and collaboration between pharmacists and physicians will adapt accordingly.

But many factors can pose either barriers or facilitators. In the current environment of community pharmacy practice, a major barrier to the relationship is the lack of face-to-face interaction with local physicians.

A program which begins with an invitation by pharmacists to local physicians for personal discussion of topics of mutual interest can open the door to development of more effective interpersonal and professional relationships.

The best interprofessional relationships involve credibility, trust and mutual respect.  These must be earned and developed over time. Role clarity and a “willingness to collaborate” are also important features of a successful interprofessional relationship.

Here are the top 10 tips for effectively communicating with physicians when speaking one-on-one or in small groups:

  1. Communicate as a colleague, not an underling.
  2. Be enthusiastic, but genuine.
  3. Be prepared for your encounters.
  4. Ensure the physician understands “What’s in it for me, and our patients.”
  5. Make recommendations that are evidence-based.
  6. Be a good listener and use appropriate body language.
  7. Be responsive and reliable and promise only what can be delivered.
  8. Be succinct, as everyone’s time is precious.
  9. Ask if any barriers to moving forward exist.
  10. Finish the dialogue positively and with discussion of next steps.