A New Year, A New Mindset

With a new year and plans for new services dancing in your head, expect to encounter exciting, new challenges in your independent pharmacy, and also some frustrations. But don’t worry. It’s just part of the process of building up your business. The good news is that the challenges you encounter offer exciting opportunities for your pharmacy to grow and thrive.

For years, your pharmacy has been your patients’ go-to for all their healthcare needs. Keeping up with new technologies not only keeps them coming back, but also draws in new customers and keeps your business current. Staying stagnant, however, will eventually send customers to the competition instead.

There have been several important trends that emerged over the past few years, and they have changed the ways pharmacies operate. Here’s a look at what they are and how they can help you thrive in 2024.

Online Pharmacies

This year is all about pharmacies going digital. Online pharmacies offer access to pharmaceutical services through mobile apps and websites. With the use of emerging technologies, they’re able to provide services such as medication adherence tracking, virtual consultations, and personalized care via AI and machine learning.

To ensure safety and healthcare compliance, online pharmacies are accredited through Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS). The overall process of dispensing and delivering the medications is also monitored by health organizations.

The growth of online pharmacies accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the digital pharmacy market valued at $83.45 billion. By 2030, Polaris Market Research projects it to reach $340.17 billion.

As with anything else, there are pros and cons that come with online pharmacy. This list may help you decide if it’s right for yours.

The Pros:

Convenience: Online pharmacies offer a convenient way for patients to order, receive, and stay on top of their medications. Some offer automatic refill services, where patients can set up recurring orders for their medications. This ensures they receive their medications on time without the hassle of placing orders manually every month.

Access: An online pharmacy offers patients direct, 24/7 access to the service no matter the location. This alone solves the problem of access for the elderly, disabled, and those who live in rural areas.

Private and confidential: Reputable online pharmacies prioritize customer privacy and employ secure systems to protect personal and medical information. Patients can order their medications without sharing health information or personal information in a public setting.

Customized care: New technologies, such as virtual consultations, allow online pharmacies to provide care that has a personal touch.

Increased efficiency: Automation and digitization of administrative tasks unify the internal processes. This increases the operational efficiency and may lower costs.

The Cons:

No physical interaction: Some patients may miss traditional in-person consultations. Without physically being there, they may feel detachment.

Technological barriers: Many adults who are either elderly or technologically challenged don’t access the internet. They also steer clear of healthcare websites or medical apps. This limits accessibility for certain demographics.

Data security worries: With numerous data breaches in 2023, maintaining vigorous cybersecurity measures is vital to protect patient information. An online pharmacy should have a privacy policy page guaranteeing that personal and financial information will not be shared with a third party.

Market competition: There’s a lot of competition in the online pharmacy market. Business owners aren’t only competing with each other; they’re also up against big companies such as Amazon.

Telehealth Services

Telehealth has completely transformed patient care by providing a safe and convenient way for patients to address medical concerns without leaving home. It’s a service your pharmacy should embrace because it can be used to enhance patient engagement and grow your scope of services.

One advantage of telehealth is that it can treat a wide range of illnesses. Some of the common ailments treated through telehealth include:

Common illnesses: Telehealth can help with gastrointestinal issues, headaches, fever, and dehydration.

Respiratory symptoms: Patients who are suffering from a sore throat, coughing, and nasal congestion can get help from a telehealth visit. Telehealth providers treat common respiratory conditions such as allergies, bronchitis, flu, and COVID-19.

Skin conditions: From acne to dermatitis, telehealth providers can help with treatment. Depending on your telehealth service, patients may have the option to take a photo of their skin condition for the physician to examine.

Minor injuries: A virtual healthcare provider can help in the healing of many types of minor injuries, such as mild lacerations and abrasions, burns, strains, and sprains.

Offering telehealth services in your pharmacy gives your patients some wonderful benefits, such as lower costs, convenience, and more time. Telehealth allows patients to receive quality care no matter where they live.

Personalized Medicine

Say goodbye to the one-size-fits-all pharmaceutical era as it quietly fades away. The future of pharmacy now lies in personalized medicine, where treatments are tailored to your patients’ genetic makeup, lifestyle, and specific health needs. This approach uses patient-specific information to optimize drug selection, dosing, and treatment monitoring.

Personalized medicine involves therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM), where drug levels are monitored in the patient’s blood to ensure therapeutic concentrations are achieved. TDM can aid in adjusting the dose, especially of drugs with small differences between their therapeutic and toxic doses, to optimize drug efficacy and reduce adverse effects.

Pharmacies can collaborate with genetic testing laboratories and healthcare providers to offer genetic testing services that provide insights into a patient’s response to various medications. From there, pharmacists can recommend a better therapy plan for the patient.

With the demand for personalized medicine on the rise, independent pharmacies are well placed to offer customized compounding services. There will soon be a growing focus on compounding unique medications to address individual patient requirements, allergies, and sensitivities.


Pharmacogenomics is the study of how one’s genetic makeup influences their response to medications, and it’s gaining eminence. Here’s how it can benefit you and your patients:

Personalized medication plans: You can use genetic information to create personalized medication plans for your patients. This ensures that patients receive the most effective and safe treatments based on their genetic makeup. This can lead to improved medication outcomes, increased patient satisfaction, and strengthened relationships with the community.

Reduced adverse reactions: By considering genetic variations that impact drug metabolism, you can minimize the risk of adverse reactions and enhance the safety and well-being of your patient.

Improved medication adherence: Medications that are tailored to individual genetics can enhance the effectiveness of treatment and increase adherence to prescribed treatments.

Competitive advantage: By offering pharmacogenetic services in your pharmacy, you stand out and can attract patients who are seeking personalized healthcare solutions.

2024 is full of possibilities and challenges in the field of independent pharmacy. The more you embrace technological advancements, commit to learning, and see yourself as an essential member of health care, the more you’ll actively shape the future of pharmacy and grow your business.

From the Magazine

This article was published in our quarterly print magazine, which covers relevant topics in greater depth featuring leading experts in the industry. Subscribe to receive the quarterly print issue in your mailbox. All registered independent pharmacies in the U.S. are eligible to receive a free subscription.

More articles from the March 2024 issue:

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