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11th September 2017

The Human Touch

Since my time at University studying for the Pharmacy degree and then subsequently practising my profession, I have always been a firm believer that the human touch goes a long way in reassuring patients and helping them to get the best from their treatment and medication.

At a time where we live in the modern age and where most things are automated, computers are sometimes the only contact we have with organisations. A prime example is in the banking world! Can you think of the last time you went into the bank and met with someone face to face? I know most if not all my banking transactions including the biggest purchase of my life (the house I live in) was all done over the internet. The human touch i.e. face to face communication is unfortunately ever more diminishing with time and the advent of modern technology. The concept of automated transactions is fine with most things and it is true that we are ever more living in a time poor era. However, when it comes to our health and wellbeing I’m not so sure I would want to be treated by an automated contraption or even have an online discussion with a health professional? Can they read my body language? It is a well-known fact that 93% of all communication of a human being is non-verbal.

So, it was refreshing and almost reassuring when I recently came across an interesting report (July 2017) from the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) about the importance of the human touch.

It had issued a report on the benefits of face to face care from community-based healthcare providers. A recent survey commissioned by the NPA of 1002 consumers found that 69% of people rejected any shift away from local pharmacies supplying NHS medication, towards online retailers. The figure amongst older people rises to 93%. And some 87% of people believe that local pharmacies are the better way to obtain healthcare advice, including a majority in younger age groups. In the over 55s, the figure is 98%.

Face to face interactions

The report went on further to state that “there are profound clinical benefits from face to face interactions between patients and health care professionals such as GP’s and Pharmacists. As well as the benefits in relation to patient outcomes, there is also a positive impact on the efficiency of the wider healthcare system.”

Modern day trends whether they be government policy or business models are towards digitally enabled remote care and a shift away from face to face care. This trend may well improve access in certain circumstances, however, they should not be at the expense of the availability of face to face interactions and relationships. The report is a timely reminder of the importance of the human touch in healthcare.

Your friendly pharmacist

Whilst out visiting care providers whether they were Nursing or Care homes or for care settings where service users had learning disabilities I always with permission made a point to speak with as many service users as I could. Conversations would be about all manners of things like the weather or sport, but inevitably always lead to medications the service user was taking. I found that many service users would have lots of questions about their condition and what was the effect of their medication on their symptoms. Some of the questions regarding their medical condition I would have to refer the service user to their GP, however, questions relating to their medication I was more than happy to help with and without exception they always found that beneficial. The feedback I used to receive from Care managers and their staff was always positive. In fact, on several occasions it was ‘they’ve been itching to see you again!’…this always made my day and I always felt that perhaps in some way I had made a small contribution to their treatment and even more importantly their compliance to their medication.

So, as you can see, the importance of the human touch was never ever lost on me nor on my patients that I visited in the various care settings.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: Medication

Hasnain Hassam

Pharmaceutical Specialist

Hasnain Hassam is a qualified pharmacist with over 23 years’ experience. He comes to QCS from a long career at The Boots Company, where he’s worked since he qualified. During his time at The Boots Company he has held several senior management roles including Area Pharmacy Manager, Healthcare Development Manager, and most recently Regional Care Services Pharmacist. Read more

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