Guest Blog: Kathy Norris, Patient Care Manager at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy
“You care because you ask.” This response came to me from a patient who I had just scheduled for her monthly medication delivery. The medication treated her chronic disease, but unfortunately, the side effects from this medication can be almost as difficult to deal with as the disease itself.
As a Patient Care Manager, my team and I make hundreds of calls every day to patients. In many of these calls, we ask the same series of questions. While these necessary and important questions may become routine, the responses from the patients are different every time.
Generally, at the beginning stages of treatment, the monthly calls to our patients tend to be shorter since most patients haven’t yet started to experience any side effects. Questions are asked and answers are given: it’s quick and to the point. Over time, monthly calls to the same patient may result in longer calls as we hear increasing details about medication side effects, especially if the call happens on a day that a patient feels unwell or in low spirits.
Our Patient Care Coordinators are trained professionals with years of customer service and medical experience. Their knowledge gives them a better understanding of the side effects of all the medications supplied by BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy. We don’t provide clinical solutions – that’s left to our pharmacists, of course – but some side effects are not medical. When asking how a patient is tolerating the medication, sometimes the response comes as: “I lost my job due to these side effects,” or “my spouse is ready to walk out the door.” This is the opportunity to give the patient time to vent, express, or even allow them to voice their own solution.
As the months go by, regular calls from a Patient Care Coordinator can become a lifeline to many of our patients. In the process of talking about the medication and potential side effects, one builds a real connection and becomes familiar with patients’ schedules, pets, family, and hobbies.
The questions asked during each refill call often provide more than just clinical information; we tend to learn private information that patients may not have been able to share with anyone else.
One day, while speaking with a patient, I asked the usual set of monthly questions, including “How are you doing on the medication?” The response I received was surprising and satisfying. The patient shared the following:
“I am doing great because each month you call me and provide me with the opportunity to answer truthfully. You don’t make me feel like a number, but instead part of your family. You don’t type over me, but instead really listen to me. Your company seems to take a rare approach to patient care; they actually care and allow you to spend time with me. I don’t feel rushed to get off the phone; you are listening to me!”
The true job of a Patient Care Coordinator is to be the patient’s voice, advocate, and – in some cases – even a friend. Having a patient tell you “I am doing well because you care” is affirmation that this company, BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy, first and foremost cares about the patient.