As the pharmacy industry continues to evolve, one thing remains true – independent pharmacies will always have the “trust factor” advantage. Patients often visit their pharmacist more than any other healthcare provider, and having a personal relationship with their local pharmacist is known to build trust and increase customer loyalty.
According to a national survey released by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), more than 8 in 10 adults (85%) prefer getting prescriptions from their local pharmacist over using mail order. So why do most people prefer using their local pharmacy? The main factors reported by respondents were their personal relationship with their local pharmacist and the fact that their pharmacist knows them better on an individual level. This shows that most people value personal relationships over the perceived convenience of mail order, and are not willing to substitute personalized care. Another top reported factor by respondents was the fact that their pharmacist can answer their questions and counsel them on new medications. Nearly half of the respondents said that they go to their community pharmacy for more than just getting their prescriptions filled. It’s clear that customers value their independent pharmacies for the enhanced level of service they provide.
Due to the pandemic, consumer behaviors have shifted predominantly online for most purchases – relying heavily on online ordering and shipping of products directly to the home. Despite this, the relationship between patients and their local “brick-and-mortar” pharmacies continues to hold strong. When patients form that personal connection with their pharmacist, it creates trust that can’t be replicated or replaced by mail order pharmacies. Trusting someone with your health is an important decision, and patients are aware that their local independent pharmacy is the best option. There is no substitute for having strong patient relationships -and this is a strength of independent pharmacies because it is easier to hold patients accountable for their health when you know them on a personal level.
This accountability helps to increase adherence, which in turn can lead to improved patient health outcomes. As we learned from Dr. Calvin Knowlton’s appearance on the Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast, however, it’s important to first focus on outcomes and then worry about adherence after. It’s not just about adherence; it’s about optimizing a patient’s health regimen through personalized care. Once an effective health plan is in place, then we can worry about adherence – because being adherent to an ineffective regimen does no one any good. Evaluation of a patient’s medication regimen can help ensure that they are taking the right medications at the right time, and identify any potentially harmful drug interactions.
This enhanced form of medication therapy management (MTM) opens the opportunity for another personalized service that pharmacies can offer to their patients. By using MedWise, a medication decision support tool that integrates directly into the PioneerRx pharmacy system, pharmacists can identify opportunities to optimize patient medication regimens and prevent adverse drug events. This is just one way that independent pharmacists can offer customized services to their patients that add value to their customer experience. In the following video, Dr. Calvin Knowlton, CEO of Tabula Rasa and creator of MedWise, explains how pharmacists are a vital part of a patient’s healthcare team and add more value to the healthcare system than most people might think:
The bottom line is this: as an independent pharmacist, you have a unique advantage and you should be capitalizing on it. It starts with the personal connection – building trust with your patients by connecting with them on a personal level – but it only grows from there. You have the opportunity to offer a variety of enhanced services that can personalize a patient’s care and increase their perceived value of being a customer at your pharmacy. Especially now as pharmacies are vaccinating and testing patients for COVID-19, it’s a chance to get in front of potential new patients and educate them about the other services your pharmacy offers. You can grow your customer base by marketing to these people and giving them a reason to come back to your pharmacy.
A great way to be successful when adding new services to your store is to find your niche. By focusing on one topic that you are passionate about, you can channel your efforts into becoming the expert in your community and being the “go-to” for a certain product or service. Don’t know where to start? Need some inspiration? Check out these clips from our Catalyst Pharmacy Podcast featuring pharmacists that have mastered their niche and found success in offering additional services at their pharmacy:
Find Your Niche and Become an Expert | Michael Muñiz
Be Known for Something | Brandon Knott
Practice at the Top of Your License | Chris Cornelison