Q&A with University Health pharmacists

University Health pharmacists Irene Vargas and Sara Barraza answer common questions and share how our local pharmacist can help you manage your medications.

How our University Health pharmacists can help you

Pharmacists ensure that all the prescriptions we receive are an appropriate therapy and fit the patient’s needs. We take time to review the patient’s medication history and work with providers to ensure that the patient is receiving the most appropriate therapy.

Some of our patients take a lot of medications, and we know how confusing that can be. We set up meetings with our patients to assist them in understanding how to manage their medications.

Pharmacists provide vaccinations for COVID-19, shingrix and the flu. We now offer the RSV vaccine for eligible patients aged 60 and older with proof of insurance.

Patients may walk-in to receive their free flu shot at these University Health pharmacies:

No proof of insurance is required for the flu vaccine.

How do you help patients afford medications?

We understand that medications can be expensive. Our pharmacies prioritize our patients leaving with their medications in hand. Ask our pharmacy how we can help.

If you have been seen by one of our physicians or use our pharmacies, our team is able to identify the best financial assistance program that fits your needs. For patients who see non-University Health providers, our pharmacy offers consultations with a medication therapy management pharmacist where you will then be eligible for our financial assistance services.

What are the most common questions you get from patients and how do you answer them?

We believe that no question is a dumb question when it comes to your medications.

“Do I have to take this with food?” There are specific medications that, if taken with food, the effectiveness of the medication will decrease. For example, there are some cancer medications that have to be taken without food or 30 minutes before food in order for the medication to be effective.

Patients who take other medications, like herbal medications, ask, “Do these interact with other medications I’m taking?” We as pharmacists, will go through the patient’s medications list and provide them with information about potential drug interactions.

How do you help a patient manage multiple medications?

There are several ways we assist patients in managing their medications. One way is by providing patients with free pillboxes. Pillboxes help patients organize their medications. We’ll say, “These are your morning medications," and the top slots of the pillbox are for the morning.

If patients can’t read or write, we’ll help them with identifying their medications by their color or shape. We can also provide them with different colored pillboxes for easier identification. No matter the circumstance, we will go through their pillbox with them to ensure they understand how to identify and take their medications before leaving the pharmacy.

Some medications require that the pills be split in half. If the patient is prescribed medication that needs to be split, we will provide them with a free pill cutter and show them how to properly use it.

If a patient is diabetic and does not know how to use a blood sugar meter, we walk them through it. We show patients videos on how to use the meter and then ask the patient to practice with the meter before they leave to make sure they’re doing it correctly.

What if I need a specialty medication? 

This will typically start with a conversation with your provider. Depending on the condition, your primary care provider may assist. Otherwise, specialty medications are typically prescribed by your specialist. 

Once you have a prescription or medication order, you have several options. As a patient, you should be given the choice of where you would like to fill the prescription. If University Health is your preferred option, you can call 210-743-3853 for our University Hospital location, and 210-358-9660 for our Robert B. Green downtown location to speak with a member of the team. 

A member of our team will enroll you in our proactive patient monitoring program and set up an initial visit with one of our dedicated specialty pharmacists. These visits can be in conducted in person or over the phone.

Our dedicated team of pharmacists and technicians have been trained specifically in specialty pharmacy and will provide the clinical assessment, ensuring that this medication is the best option for you.   

Once you have the medication in hand, the team will continue to follow-up throughout the year, ensuring your success as our patient. All of this, except the cost of the medication, is provided free of charge as a service to our community. 

What is a specialty pharmacy? 

Specialty pharmacies provide comprehensive, proactive and coordinated care for patients with chronic illnesses and medical conditions. They typically operate in a closed door, mail-order fashion. 

However, University Health specialty pharmacies provide an open door, optional same-day dispensing model – the first of its kind in San Antonio to be accredited.

Why would I need a specialty pharmacy? 

It depends on the patient and what medications they’re taking. Oftentimes, the patient’s insurance carrier, or the drug manufacturer will determine if the patient needs to utilize a specialty pharmacy. 

Most of the new medications that are advertised on TV or the internet require a specialty pharmacy. 

If the condition that the patient is trying to treat is complex (and often chronic), they will most likely need to utilize a specialty pharmacy, too. 

For example: Medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, often seen on at least five TV commercials throughout the day, will need a specialty pharmacy. New medications used to treat those same conditions, typically require a specialty pharmacy as well.

What they don’t tell you, is that those medications will often be limited to certain accredited specialty pharmacies, impacting the patient’s access to them. Fortunately, University Health has added countless new medications to our program with no signs of stopping anytime soon.

How can I transfer to a University Health pharmacy? 

You can call either 210-743-3853 for our University Hospital location or 210-358-9660 for our Robert B. Green downtown location. 

Any of our pharmacists can transfer your prescription from your previous pharmacy. If you don’t have any additional refills, we can contact your provider for a new order as well.

Do I need insurance to transfer to a University Health pharmacy? 

No. University Health offers a multitude of financial assistance and medication assistance programs. While specialty pharmacy medications are typically expensive, University Health pharmacies will identify the best financial assistance that fits your needs.

We have a dedicated Medication Assistance Program that can help you gain access to free medications. Our CareLink program can also be an option for Bexar County residents that qualify. 

If you received a specialty prescription from another pharmacy and cannot afford it, please reach out. Someone from our team will navigate all of our available options to ensure you get your medication.

Subscribe icon
Get health living and wellness information, recipes, and patient stories from University Health.

Tell us your patient story

Share your inspiring personal story of hope and healing at University Health.