Back in 2020, we wrote this blog about Total Healthcare, to provide some marketing suggestions for pharmacies to consider. Since then, a few things have changed, and we would like to expand and slightly modify our suggestions.
In recent years, it has become more important than ever for independent pharmacies to go beyond just filling prescriptions and offer additional product and services to increase cash-based revenue. With DIR fees and low reimbursements, it is crucial to diversify to stay afloat. By offering expanded product and service offerings, you are creating a “stickiness” with current customers to improve patient retention and loyalty as well as appearing more attractive to potential new patients.
For example, a patient will likely skip the doctor’s office if they can just swing into their local pharmacy to get a pneumonia or shingles vaccine. Or they may be less likely to use multiple pharmacies if they know you can package all their medications and supplements together, saving them time and hassle. Additionally, if they know you can tell them what medications work best with their genetic profile, they can trust that you will help customize their medication regimen to best suit their unique health needs.
Creating this stickiness with patients has become increasingly important as competitors continue to add more services while also failing to provide stellar service. CVS for example has started delivery services, and Amazon is now offering packaging with their Pill Pack program – however both have struggled to keep their patients happy with their service. Consumers are easily swayed by the promise of convenience - especially if they feel like they do not have a reason to stay with your pharmacy.
What else can you offer? Here are a few ideas:
Weight Loss Program
OTC Hearing Aids
Diabetes prevention and management
High quality OTCs with a focus on cross selling supplements with prescriptions
LTC Pharmacy consulting
Outside of healthcare some pharmacies are implementing the following:
Gifts featuring local vendors
Ice cream/soda shoppes
Healthy foods from local farmers
Fresh flowers from local growers
It can feel daunting to decide which service to add, due to additional expenses, potentially additional staff time, and just a change in daily operation. This feeling has stopped many pharmacy owners from taking the next step, leaving them stuck in the past. If you need some inspiration, ask your customers through a quick survey. What service(s) do they want? The answer may be staring you right in the face. Another source of inspiration is look at your market area, is there a need not being met?
Here are some examples:
Older community – implement caregiver services, LTC pharmacy consulting and stock OTC hearing aids
Overweight community – focus on diabetes prevention and management or weight loss
Younger community – implement a prenatal and/or kids vitamin club and stock pre- and post-natal products (pregnancy support belts, skincare products, morning sickness solutions, breast pumps and accessories, baby products, gifts etc.)
Complex patients/regimens – implement pharmacogenetic testing and sell high quality supplements
Rural community – partner with nearby providers to offer immunizations and point-of-care testing to reduce the burden on their staff
To get started, determine your overall goal, and find ways to break it down into smaller steps. For example: “I want to start offering a diabetes management service and have five patients signed up by the end of 2023,” is a great overall goal and to start let’s break it down into smaller steps to help you achieve it.
What immediate questions do you have that need answered?
What program options are out there for you to consider?
How will you market this program to your community?
Will this program serve a purpose and drive patients and revenue to your pharmacy?
Who on your team can help you implement and manage the program?
Is there any competition in your area for this program that you will need to distinguish yourself from?
Create a timeline of the smaller steps needed to reach your goal. Once you have your timeline, include your staff, so they are aware of and on board with the changes coming. Make sure to include metrics with your goals such as how many patients do you need to use the service to make it profitable. Lastly, be sure to check out our blog on making goals to ensure all your Ts are crossed.
No matter what product or service you decide to add, it is crucial that you take the time to market it properly. Start with current customers using in-store materials, emails, social media, and direct mailers and then branch out to your community and providers, if applicable. Put an ad on Facebook targeting your local area, send out a quick press release to your newspaper, or host an open house at the pharmacy. Do not be afraid to shout from the rooftops about your new service, it took a lot of hard work and dedication to implement, and the final step is to give it the attention it needs to grow.