How to Choose a Pharmacy

Pharmacist helping a customer.



Choosing a local pharmacy in the Kitchener-Waterloo region often comes down to convenience and proximity to your home. However, there are many more factors to consider while searching for your perfect pharmacy fit.


First and foremost, you should trust your local pharmacist and feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly with them about your prescription and non-prescription needs. You also want to ensure that the operating hours suit your personal and work schedule and that you receive the quality of service you expect from your local pharmacist. Other considerations relate to your drug plan and the availability of pharmacy services such as compounding and consultative services.


Below, we cover all the factors to consider before choosing a pharmacy near you in the K-W.


Questions to consider include:




Is Your Local Pharmacy Legitimate and Licensed?

With online pharmacies gaining popularity across the country, cases of fraud are on the rise. While any physical pharmacy is likely operating legally, it is essential to note that all legitimate pharmacies are licensed under the jurisdiction of the province or territory in which they operate.


Each province/territory has regulatory authorities that are members of the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities (NAPRA). These provincial authorities then work to regulate both the practice of pharmacy and the operations of pharmacies.


Always use extra caution when exploring online pharmacies, and be sure to verify that they are registered with a province before you provide any personal information or make a purchase.



Do the Operating Hours of Your Pharmacy Work for You?

Similar to how the physical location of a local pharmacy is a primary consideration, the operating hours of your pharmacist are often another significant factor when considering pharmacy options in your area.


If you are working full-time, trying to care for an elderly parent, or you have a house full of children, you are undoubtedly limited on when you can make your way to a pharmacy. Therefore, you will want to find a pharmacy that works well with your schedule and can support you when it is most convenient for you.



Are the Pharmacy Staff Helpful and Friendly?

Pharmacist helping a customer.


How you jive with your pharmacist and their team can also make all the difference. There is nothing more personal than your health, so you should feel completely comfortable speaking openly and honestly with the professionals who help you fulfill your prescription and non-prescription needs.


In addition, you should feel that your local pharmacist has your best interest in mind, takes care in understanding your personal health history, and does not mind spending a few extra minutes with you when you have questions.


An ideal pharmacist for you may also be able to offer suggestions about how you can save money on your prescriptions by choosing non-generic or similar drugs.



Is There a Space for You to Speak Privately?

Your health and the health of your loved ones is a confidential matter, and you likely prefer to have a private space to speak candidly with your pharmacist. Many pharmacies have dedicated spaces where you can enjoy a higher degree of privacy, so never be shy to ask to move to that area to ask your questions or discuss your health.



Is Filling Your Prescriptions Easy?

Pharmacist handing a customer their perscription.


Receiving your medications quickly and hassle-free is another crucial factor when choosing a local pharmacy. For example, your pharmacist should be able to fill your prescriptions promptly every time.


If you often find that wait times to fill your prescription are very long, or your pharmacy is often out of the medications you require, it is likely time to seek a different pharmacy.


Of course, there may be one-off situations that can be inconvenient, but if you notice a trend of poor service, consider seeking pharmacy services elsewhere.



Does Your Pharmacy Offer a Variety of Services?

While local pharmacies are most well-known for fulfilling prescriptions and providing support regarding over-the-counter medications and products, pharmacists can offer many other services too.


Seek out pharmacies that offer compounding and other consultative services such as:


  • Diabetic counselling

  • Weight loss management programs

  • Compression stockings

  • Travel health consultations

  • Respiratory counselling

  • INR management

  • …and more!


Pharmacies can often support you in more ways than you thought and, in some cases, could save you a trip to a walk-in clinic or the doctor's office. Ask your local pharmacy what they can offer to support your unique health concerns.



Does Your Pharmacy Accept Your Health Benefits Plan?

Prescriptions can be costly, especially if you have multiple family members who require long-term or pricey medications. However, having a health benefits plan can help offset the out-of-pocket costs you need to incur. Your benefits may also give you access to cheaper dispensing fees, so it is essential to consider which pharmacy is most compatible with your coverage plan.


All benefits plans typically allow you to submit receipts for items or services covered under your plan. Still, it is much more convenient if your pharmacist can bill your benefits provider directly. This seemingly small factor can ultimately take up a lot of your time, particularly if you manually submit receipts for each family member.


Before committing to a pharmacist, drop-in or call them to ask how your health benefits plan will work at their pharmacy. These small steps can ultimately save you some time and hassle later. It could even save you money if you often forget to submit health benefit claims manually.



Is Pharmacy Delivery Available?

Even if you enjoy making a trip to your local pharmacy to pick up your prescriptions, there are some days you may not feel up to going in. For example, life may get busy, or you may be feeling unwell. Therefore, seek a pharmacy that offers delivery service for free or for a small fee. You never know when it may be a very significant perk!




While many people often only consider the location of their pharmacist in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, there are multiple other factors to think about before selecting a local pharmacy.


Your pharmacy should be licensed, legitimate, and acting under regulations set and enforced by the province. Beware of online pharmacies, do your due diligence, and listen to your gut if something feels off.


The pharmacy you choose should also offer operating hours that suit your busy schedule. With an abundance of pharmacy options to choose from, you should never feel you need to leave work or sacrifice other commitments to be able to fill your prescriptions.


As your health is a deeply personal matter, you should feel comfortable speaking with your local pharmacist. Your pharmacist should be patient, helpful, and friendly. You may also value your pharmacist's ability to offer suggestions that will save you time and money. Also, seek out a pharmacy that values your expectation of privacy and has a quiet area where you can ask questions and have discussions.


At the end of the day, your primary goal when working with a local pharmacy is filling or refilling your prescriptions. Therefore, seek a pharmacy that can promptly provide you with your prescription and non-prescription medication needs. If you are not satisfied with a service, do not hesitate to take your business elsewhere.


You may also be surprised to know that your pharmacist can support you in various ways. From medication compounding to diabetes counseling to travel health consultations, pharmacies offer much more than you likely realized!


Lastly, your health benefits plan may play a more significant role in your pharmacy decision than expected. Seek out a pharmacy that can directly bill your insurance, and pay attention to whether or not your benefits provider impacts how much you pay for dispensing fees. All pharmacies set their dispensing fees, so always shop around. Be sure to ask about prescription delivery services too!


As you can see, there are so many more factors in choosing a pharmacy than location alone! Asking yourself the questions above can help you find a pharmacy you trust with your health and your family's health.



Consider Choosing Cook’s Pharmacy

Pharmacist woman smiling.


If you are seeking a local, family-owned pharmacy that you can trust with your prescription and non-prescription needs, consider Cook's Pharmacy. Our skilled team of pharmacists is ready to ensure you and your loved ones receive fast, reliable, and trustworthy service every time.


We are pleased to offer robust pharmacy services in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, North Dumfries, and Wellesley. Ask us about prescriptions, medication compounding, travel health consultations, diabetic counselling, INR counselling, weight loss programs, and more! Cook's Pharmacy is more than a local pharmacy near you!


Reach out to us to learn more about how we can meet your family’s health needs.



Any medical or pharmaceutical information on this site is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. This information does not create any patient-pharmacist relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.


Please consult your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition.


Cook’s Pharmacy and its subsidiaries expressly disclaim responsibility and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury, or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained in this site.




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