Somewhere around the beginning of this very long year, pharmacist Gillian Giannone was promoted to Director of Pharmacy Operations. It’s a title she has earned and one that she’s grown into just the same. Gillian is kind, smart and personable. As her leadership qualities flourish, she maintains an approachability and availability that make her one of the more valuable resources we have at PersonalRX. Here’s the interview..
When did you first join the company?
August 1. 2016
A lot has changed since 2016, what are some significant changes you’ve noticed?
Our new facility is really nice. It’s impressive, and gives us room for growth. Room for scale. RX2 Mobile, which allows us to interface with patients. And RX2 Admin, which now drives our end-to-end workflows. We’ve accomplished quite a lot!
Are you working on any new projects?
Over the last 6 months, I’ve been heavily involved in the “back end” development of workflow management in RX2 Admin – our internal patient care management system. It’s been exciting and challenging. I really have enjoyed the challenge! This project made me think outside the box and be creative – something we don’t typically have the opportunity to do in pharmacy. It was fun to use that part of my brain. It’s been time-consuming. A lot of planning and testing: we started with blueprints and flow charts. It’s nice to see arrows and diagrams come to life – and now we use this technology in a very tangible way, every day.
A new project I’m diggin into now involves our MedRec tool. MedRec is abbreviated for Medication Reconciliation. Pharmacists perform medication reconciliation to make sure that patients are not receiving duplicate therapies for the same condition and that there’s no drug or allergy interactions. We try to consolidate their profile if possible, so that they’re not taking more meds than necessary. We of course do this by consulting with their doctors – and making recommendations if required. We are further developing this tool to go beyond the type of MedRec technology that’s traditionally used. It’s very cool.
Of the seven core values we share at PersonalRX, do you have a favorite?
Teamwork. Because teamwork is what drives our operation in the pharmacy. Everyone serves a purpose. Everyone who works here is an integral part of making sure that the right medications show up at the patient’s door. If we don’t have solid teamwork, we’re putting our patients at risk. Another core value, communication, is an important part of making teamwork work. Good communication is what allows us to support one another. We all rely on each other to reach our goals – and for that reason – another core value, accountability, is important too.
What personal touch do you bring to your work?
I have a perspective that’s been with me since I began as a practicing pharmacist that is still top of mind today. I see our patients as if they are my own family and I keep that in mind as I interact with them.I think to myself, if this patient were my mother or my grandmother, or my father or brother, what would I want for them.
What’s cool about being a pharmacist (besides the white lab coat)?Pharmacists hold a special role in the community, in particular to educate people about the granular aspects of how medicine can affect their health. We take an oath and one part of it says, “I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care.” That’s what we do here at PersonalRX. We do our best to make medication management easier and to keep people safe from the perils of polypharmacy. Polypharmacy refers to the danger that is present when people are prescribed multiple medications, potentially by multiple doctors, potentially filled at multiple pharmacies. For this reason, it truly is beneficial for a patient to have their whole medication profile at one pharmacy, when possible.
Regarding the pharmacist’s ability to educate people, something I try to convey is that everyone should be an active advocate in their health care. Sometimes, people are conditioned to blindly follow what doctors say. While it is imperative to follow the doctors orders, for long term health and quality of life – it’s valuable to understand the reason why you’re taking a particular medication – and why it’s important to keep taking it even if it’s not changing the way you feel. Like blood pressure or cholesterol medication, for example. You may think that you feel the same whether you take it or not, so it’s important to understand the benefits in order to be motivated to remain compliant with the medication regimen and prevent worse outcomes in the future.
What’s challenging about the job you do?
What’s been challenging is navigating a new role. I was a staff pharmacist and a clinical pharmacist for so long. Being named “Director of Pharmacy Operations” presented a challenge because I was concerned that my relationships would be changing with staff. But, it’s been a pleasure because I still have a strong bond – lots of trust and mutual respect – and I’m actually really honored that the staff has been so supportive of me in this new role.
Because you’re a pharmacist, do friends and family ask for advice about medicine?
Yes. All the time. My family members rely on me for medical advice. My brother has even asked me to Facetime to look at his scratchy throat. When I can comfortably give someone the advice they’re looking for I will, but anything beyond that, I will ask them to speak with their doctor.
Pharmacists have been and continue to be the most accessible healthcare professionals – and for this reason it makes sense that we are asked for advice so frequently.
What’s special about PersonalRX?
It’s the people. Everyone really believes in the concept of what we’re trying to achieve and what the company stands for. Everyone here believes in our ability to help improve lives. It’s a really close knit team because we’re working toward a common goal and everyone plays an important part. None of us could do it alone.
What are you known for around the pharmacy?
I think I’m known for having answers. People come to me looking for answers. Probably because of my longevity with the company and understanding the operation as a whole.
I guess I’m the answer lady.
Aside from COVID-19, what’s this year been like for you?
Professionally, I’ve learned a lot this year – partially due to COVID-19 and partially because I’ve been promoted. So, my role has changed significantly and it’s been challenging, but in a good way. I’ve had the opportunity to learn a lot thanks to this project for developing our internal application. I’ve also played a bigger role in handling regulatory duties for the company. I think I’ve become a better critical thinker. I’ve certainly engaged in more creative problem solving. And my relationships here have actually flourished – which I credit to open communication, trust and mutual respect.
On a personal note, I got engaged and am planning a wedding. And I became an aunt. So, there is always a silver lining – and good, important things are also happening in 2020.