In today’s model of value-based care, your independent pharmacy’s success—both now and in the future—depends largely on improving patient care and the patient experience. Now is the time to take stock of your processes and offerings to understand what you can do to provide better care for patients. Here are four strategies to better address patient needs and prepare your pharmacy for the future of healthcare.

1. Engage patients through technology

To stay competitive—and helpful to patients—your independent pharmacy should get comfortable using technology in new ways. Eyad Farah expands on this in “Top 5 Independent Pharmacy Trends for 2019.” Farah is the vice president and general manager for Health Mart Atlas. He says engaging patients with technology is critical for independents now and in the future. “Disruptive innovation is happening all around your pharmacy,” Farah says. “It will continue to challenge traditional business models.”

New and old competitors will continue to find different ways to engage with their patients. And they’re finding ways to make pharmacy services more convenient. To keep up, you’ll need to turn to technology. Consider adding the following tech services:

  • Mobile apps that let patients fill their prescriptions on the go
  • Online ordering for same or next-day home delivery
  • Text reminders for patients to refill or continue taking their medication

You can also think about serving different patient populations through different forms of technology. Some patients may benefit from text reminders when their prescriptions are ready. Others might prefer email.

2. Focus on personalized patient care

Patients increasingly want more individualized care. They want you to remember their face when they walk in the door. They want help with their unique health needs. William George expands on this in “The Pharmacy of the Future Will Focus on Personalized Care.” As the vice president of retail transformation for McKesson Canada, George explains that in the future, “your pharmacy will change from being a point of transaction to a point of interaction.” He already sees pharmacy patients asking for more of the following:

  • Ease of experience. Patients want their pharmacy experience to be more convenient. They want transactions to be seamless. They want you to remember who they are and not have to explain things multiple times to different people.
  • Feeling cared for. Patients want to feel valued when they visit your pharmacy. They want you to go the extra mile to make sure they have what they need to take their medication safely and without barriers. For example, an arthritis patient shouldn’t receive hard-to-open medication packaging.
  • Help meeting their health goals. Patients want pharmacists to do more than just hand them their prescriptions. They want you to help keep them as healthy as possible by understanding their whole health and making recommendations.

Your independent pharmacy can meet these needs by providing more one-on-one counseling. You can help remove barriers to adherence. And you can counsel your patients on everything from nutrition to disease management. Overall, make sure you’re treating each patient as the unique individual they are.

3. Offer more health services

Due to a continued shortage of primary care physicians, more and more people are turning to their pharmacy for services they used to receive in a doctor’s office. Chris Dimos discusses this in “The Future of Pharmacy is About the Patient Experience.” Dimos is the president of retail solutions for McKesson Pharmaceutical Solutions and Services. He explains that offering more services can give you a competitive advantage as you look toward the future. “Your pharmacy can be a destination for the healthy and a solution center for the sick,” he says. Consider adding services such as:

  • Immunization programs. Not just flu shots, but travel vaccines and year-round immunizations for diseases like pneumonia or shingles.
  • Point-of-care testing. This includes things like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or high blood sugar.
  • Health education. In the future, patients will turn to you for educational resources on how to manage their health.

When your independent pharmacy can offer more to patients, you become their go-to resource for more than medication refills. And your pharmacists get to provide one-on-one care instead of just counting pills.

4. Close gaps in patient care

One of the most meaningful things you can do to better address patient needs is close gaps in care. Gaps in patient care include situations where patients are not on the correct medication. Perhaps they are not taking their medication correctly. Or they might be prescribed a medication that could interact with another medication.

In “How Your Community Pharmacy Can Close Gaps in Patient Care,” Crystal Lennartz notes that your pharmacy is in a prime position to solve these problems. She believes that spotting gaps will be a huge part of providing better care in the years to come. Lennartz is the vice president of pharmacy performance for Health Mart Atlas and a pharmacist herself. “Spotting gaps in care is a team sport that your pharmacy should be playing year-round,” she notes. You can start closing gaps in care using the following methods:

  • Technology. Use your pharmacy management system to set alerts for patients who may not be taking their medication or may need a new drug.
  • Clinical programs. Consider programs such as medication therapy management or one-on-one counseling. This way, you get a more holistic picture of a patient’s concerns or questions. You can counsel patients when they come in for a prescription refill or dedicate a separate time to do this.
  • Prescriber partnerships. Your pharmacy should form partnerships with prescribers so you can have open communication regarding the success of drug treatments and patient needs.

Going the extra mile to identify gaps in care helps your pharmacy better serve patients. It also gives you the competitive edge you need to succeed now and in the future.

When you focus more of your efforts on delivering better patient care, patients come to depend on you as a resource for their entire health journey—not just their prescriptions. Whether you’re providing point-of-care testing, counseling patients on their medications, or simply remembering their unique care needs, small measures can help you see improved success and patient satisfaction.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s Health Mart franchise program

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