If you are one of the MANY independent pharmacy owners who is looking to branch out, and away, from relying solely on prescriptions to generate revenue – this blog is for you.
Over the past few years, most of our clients have taken to expanding on the product and service offerings to both reach a broader audience – rather than relying on their long-time patients – and produce additional cash flow sources for their pharmacy.
Below are the more common product and services we have seen implemented. Keep in mind that these may not be right for your pharmacy.
Immunizations: the key to immunization growth is clinics. Reaching out to local employers, school districts, government facilities, churches, and daycare centers will help you establish a baseline. Additionally, it is important to focus on all immunizations, not just a few. Employers can benefit from influenza and COVID, but also pneumonia and shingles. Churches that offer mission trips could benefit from travel vaccinations, as well as standard ones needed for their entire congregation. Do your research, include information on the cost benefits to having employees vaccinated. For example, a study done back in 2016 showed that a vaccinated workforce experiences:
o 13%-44% fewer doctor visits
o 18%-45% fewer lost workdays
o 18%-28% fewer days with reduced productivity
How much money could the employer save if even half of their workforce got vaccinated? Include cash prices for vaccination clinics as well as costs to run through insurances.
Weight Loss: Specifically, focusing on the long-term overall health and wellness of the client. Not the fad diets that cycle through the US every year. If your community struggles with obesity, establishing a program that will not only help them be healthier and live longer, but help reduce their overall medical costs, will help set you apart. Recent studies have shown that the medical costs for obese individuals are 15 times higher than total costs of overweight individuals, irrespective of gender and employment status. Direct medical costs account for the majority of costs borne by overweight individuals and obese men, while obese women are disproportionately affected by job-related costs, such as lost wages.1 Find the numbers as they apply to your state and be sure to include them in your marketing materials to both patients and employers.
Disease State Management: Both Asthma and COPD can result in various comorbidities. One study from 2013 found that more than 20% of people with COPD have three or more comorbid conditions. Whether you offer one-on-one or group sessions for Asthma/COPD management, your patients can see long-term benefits to proper management and risk education. Additionally, COPD patients have reduced lung function, any illness that further compromises breathing can lead to serious complications. Since COPD patients should always be up-to date on their influenza and pneumococcal vaccinations so it is also beneficial to focus on complimentary services.
Point of Care Testing: Point-of-care testing provides an excellent opportunity for community pharmacies to enhance revenue by expanding patient care services while improving health at the patient and population levels. It allows for the screening and treatment process to be completed during a single encounter, thereby improving access to care, counseling, and patient outcomes. By providing accurate data on disease prevention, point-of-care testing can increase public health agencies’ ability to reach targeted populations.2 Common tests include, blood sugar, A1C, Flu, Strep, COVID. NCPA provides some great information on getting started with point-of-care testing services: https://ncpa.org/point-care-testing-poct
Pharmacogenetic Testing: Pharmacogenomics is a study of how the genome background is associated with drug resistance and how therapy strategy can be modified for a certain person to achieve benefit. The pharmacogenomics (PGx) testing becomes of great opportunity for healthcare providers to make the proper decision regarding each non-trivial patient that does not respond to therapy. Currently, PGx tests exist in various areas of medicine, including, but not limited to, psychiatry, cardiology, anesthesia, and oncology.3
E-Commerce: While not specific to a single product, many independent pharmacies have began implementing an e-commerce aspect to their front-end sales. The 2020 pandemic changed everything, especially for small businesses. To help offset lost revenues, many independent pharmacies moved e-commerce to the forefront of their marketing strategy. In addition to giving revenue a boost, online stores have helped:
o Drive traffic, which in-turn improves search engine rankings.
o Improve patient engagement.
o Compete with chains by:
Allowing people to place orders online for same or next day pickup/delivery.
Showcase products at the same or lower costs.
Highlighting all their products & services.
o Gain new patients by offering products not available elsewhere but can be found on your online store when searching for that product.
Cash Program: Both chain and independent pharmacies have discovered the benefit of cash programs. Available for any patient, regardless of if they are insured, under-insured, or un-insured, have been a helpful resource for both patient and pharmacy. Pricing for cash programs can vary depending on what products are available to you, but most offer a 30-, 60- or 90-day supply for generic prescriptions. Common cash prescriptions are for sexual health, cosmetic, weight loss, or chronic conditions.
CBD: Outside of the state and federal regulations regarding selling CBD we have also seen a significant swing in personal opinions about whether or not it is something a pharmacy should offer. We have included in our list as it has been a significant revenue generator for many pharmacies, regardless of which brand is offered.
Nutrient Depletion: Offering nutrient depletion products needs to start with some basic training for your team. Ensuring everyone knows how to sell specific supplements to coincide with prescriptions will be crucial to getting these products sold. For example, is your team aware that diabetes medications may deplete Vitamins B2, B6, CoQ10, Folic Acid, Magnesium, and more. High blood pressure medications may also deplete CoQ10, Magnesium, Calcium, Folic Acid, Zinc, Potassium, and B vitamins. If your team aren’t comfortable discussing these correlations or making supplement recommendations based on the patient’s regimen, you will likely struggle to make many sales.
High End Supplements: Americans spent $12.8 billion out-of-pocket on natural product supplements, which was about one-quarter (24 percent) of what they spent out-of-pocket on prescription drugs ($54.1 billion).4 If you aren’t offering a high-end solution, you are missing out on that revenue. Like with nutrient depletion, training your team to help sell the benefits of a higher quality supplement will be key. If you can’t quickly and effectively explain the difference between your standard supplements compared to a higher quality version, you will struggle to make sales.
Prior to making any major changes in your business model, we highly encourage you to do your research first. To truly know what would be best, you should be able to answer the following questions:
What is a need that is missing within your community?
What do your current patients want or need?
What do providers in your area think the community needs?
What can you offer that will separate you from the rest, and give your pharmacy a competitive edge?
How much revenue are you looking to generate – realistically?
What will be the cost to implement your new product or service compared to the revenue it will generate?
By answering these questions, you may find that there is a different product or services that would best serve your needs. It will be important that you take your time to implement anything new properly. Make sure your team are aware and fully trained, put together a marketing plan to rollout the new product/service, and spend the time and money to ensure your community knows as well. It is also worth networking with other pharmacy owners who have implemented your preferred product or service to talk about any unexpected issues or benefits that you might not think of.