May 08 2018

Patients see Increased Role of Pharmacy in Managing their Health

While in-store blood pressure testing and flu vaccines have become fairly common in U.S. pharmacies, recent research shows patients are increasingly open to allowing pharmacies to perform an even greater range of health care services. This is further validation of the increased role pharmacies are playing in consumer healthcare management.

According to research by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, 49 percent of patients surveyed said they would have a wound treated at a clinic in a retail store or pharmacy, and 48 percent would have stitches or staples removed. The survey also found that one-third of respondents would get an MRI at a retail venue.

The role of the pharmacy is clearly changing as customer attitudes evolve in favor of finding faster, more flexible ways to fit health care needs into their busy schedules.And, as speculation continues to mount that internet behemoth has set its sights on the prescription drug industry, many pharmacies are taking steps to distinguish themselves as more than “just” dispensers of medications. While pharmacies – especially the 22,000 independent pharmacies operating in the U.S. – recognize they will not be able to compete against Amazon on price, they recognize the value in leveraging the one thing they have that Amazon does not – a brick-and-mortar store.

Among some of the innovative ways pharmacy managers are reshaping those stores:

  • Sales and rentals of home health equipment including hospital beds, wheelchairs and lift chairs
  • In-store fittings of orthopedic shoes
  • Adherence packaging, through which drugs are packaged for people at home
  • Medication counseling
  • Custom compounding
  • In-store wellness programs
  • In-store educational programs
  • Technology-based prescription management to facilitate prescription ordering/pickup processes

And of course, the most important feature a local pharmacy can offer its customers – personalized service. “We’ve always prided ourselves on getting to know our patients and making sure that we are helping them stay healthy, making sure the medicines are working for them,” pharmacist Catherine Cary, president and chief executive officer of Richmond’s Bremo Pharmacy told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We don’t have a drive-thru, and we’re not open 24 hours,” she added. “But what we do thrive on is building that patient connection and helping to make sure people are taking their medicines and getting well.”

As the pharmacy industry becomes more competitive, managers will need to find increasingly innovative ways to attract and maintain customers. And, as customers expect greater options and flexibility in their retail experiences – due in large part to the impact Amazon has had on the retail landscape – pharmacy managers must be open to “out of the box” ideas that may have been unthinkable ideas a few years ago. Afterall, whoever thought patients would come to their local pharmacy to have their stitches removed?