Adding Services to Your Pharmacy

Once upon a time, your pharmacy’s biggest threat was the large retail chains. Trying to compete with them was a struggle, as they introduced consumers to conveniences that are now the expected norm, such as extended hours, online refill requests, delivery options, and prescription alerts.

Today, however, there’s a whole different set of challenges. PBMs are continuously growing, and pharmacy reimbursements keep on declining. Plus, as the already outrageous out-of-pocket costs keep rising, your patients continue to reach for prescription discount cards. Yet another hit to your profit.

“As pharmacists work to pass legislation that would allow a fair and equitable professional reimbursement fee, we recommend independent community pharmacies begin offering healthcare revenue-generating services,” said Nicholas Smock, PharmD, MBA, President and CEO of PBA Health. “For example, point-of-care testing, over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aid testing, vaccines, weight loss, tobacco cessation, vitamin and sport medicine, convalescent care and devices, and health and wellness programs that position you and your pharmacy as a healthcare destination.”

In a nutshell, you don’t want to lose your customers due to the constant struggle to protect your bottom line. That means it’s time to begin increasing your revenue by expanding clinical interventions.

Building Trust Through Clinical Services

One way to boost confidence among your patients is by engaging in clinical opportunities. It also strengthens your ties with local healthcare providers, which could lead to collaborative partnerships and referrals.

“In 2003, I saw an opportunity. At that time all the point-of-care testing (POCT) devices were being marketed by different manufacturers and suppliers,” said Tim Drapeau, President/CEO of CLIAwaived Inc. “It was very difficult to source because you’d have to go to all the different manufacturers to find these devices. So, I said, ‘Let’s build a website where you can actually pick and pack a strep kit, a flu kit, and a drug cup for doing POCT supplies.’”

That was the premise of the business, and Drapeau continued to expand to all types of wellness products, such as POCT products for urine, saliva, and blood.

“Basically, you can do an instant test from any bodily fluid, whether it’s a lateral flow test like a pregnancy kit, or a little handheld meter like a cholesterol analyzer. We wanted to be that one-stop shop,” he said. “This then led me and my team to build a medical store online for POCT.”

If You Build It, They Will Come

Soon after their store was online, Drapeau and his team saw a huge increase in their customer base.

“During Covid, we added over 2,000 direct community pharmacies that started buying products from us, and it was those that were offering in-store testing for Covid. Some were setting up testing centers, maybe even outside the pharmacy to service the communities,” Drapeau said. “That’s really what started it. Prior to that we did have some clinical pharmacies that were doing basic biometric screening, such as cholesterol, corporate wellness testing, and probably A1C testing, but it was very limited.”

With POCT and its uniquely developed technology, it’s now set to become a staple of modern health care. The tests produce reliable, rapid results and help identify and monitor acute infections or chronic disease. In fact, GlobalData analysts predict that the POCT market will grow by 2.2% yearly. Plus, with the new range of devices that can detect a variety of diseases, global revenues from POCT could exceed $25 billion by 2028.

“Flu A&B just got approved for home testing,” Drapeau said. “There’s never been a flu A&B home test available. Pharmacists may not know that these tests are now available.”

The reason for this, Drapeau said, is that anyone who is going to draw blood, urine, or saliva from the human body and try to provide a diagnosis or treatment must have a waiver. To get a waiver, go to the Center for Medicaid Services website ( and look up how to get a CLIA certificate. Then, find the CMS form 116 to fill out. A medical doctor needs to sign off on it, and you’ll need to pay the $150 fee.

“Obtaining a CLIA waiver is easy and is the first step in your pharmacy being able to provide a number of testing products,” Smock said.

Once a pharmacy has CLIAwaived, they can download the guide from NCPA on how to start point-of-care testing.

“The NCPA guide is an excellent resource. It directs you toward the point-of-care testing certificate, which would be good to have as well as the process for the CLIA waiver,” said Griff Danheim, Pharmacy Channel Strategy Advisor at CLIAwaived.

A Partnership That Works

CLIAwaived recently partnered with Workflow Services, a company that enables pharmacies to deliver different types of clinical services.

“For pharmacies looking for an application to help them get the word out about services and the ability for patients to download an app and book a flu screening appointment, Workflow Services offers a great app that does just that,” Drapeau said.

Workflow Services offers scheduling apps, reporting apps, and they have all the HIPAA-compliant reporting technology to text and email results after engagement with the pharmacy.

“Anything that the pharmacist does in front of the counter, we have a system that can help them manage it,” Shannon Brekendorff, VP of Technical Solutions with Workflow Services by ImageMover, said.

Medical billing is quite different than the billing from the past through the pharmacy management system. No longer do you have to know you’re doing a strep test and its associated CPT code. It’s already built into the platform.

“With a turnkey solution, you don’t have to figure out how you’re going to manage your patients or how you’re going to charge for the services. We do that for you. We help you set up your website, and you can set your cash-pay price for all the different services you offer,” Brekendorff said. “At the end of an encounter, you save it. The patient goes on their way, and you go on to your next thing.”

As a pharmacist, you don’t have to be hands-on with the Workflow system. It’s so easy that your techs can do it, and you’ll have a high-level overview on everything.

“We help independent pharmacists with every step,” Robert Merry, Business Development Associate with Workflow Services, said. “Whether you want to do cash pay or get credentialed with medical billing, we’re going to remove a lot of that administrative burden that comes with getting set up with pairs. Then, we’re going to handle the claims management at the end to make sure your pharmacy gets paid. We also follow up to make sure that every single claim gets paid.”

It’s important to note that, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA), each state has its own regulatory requirements on what their pharmacists can or cannot do as it relates to pharmacy-based POCT services, such as:

  • Order lab tests
  • Administer lab tests
  • Interpret the results of the lab test
  • Prescribe medication based on the results of a lab test

In fact, requirements for POCT in pharmacies vary by state and may include such things as collaborative practice agreements (CPA), additional certifications, or written protocols.

How to Implement POCT in Your Pharmacy

According to the NCPA, you need to consider several things when you’re setting up your pharmacy to offer point-of-care testing (POCT) services.

First, you need to establish legality by preventing liability. Ensure protocols are in place that define POCT procedures for each device used and disease state encountered. Most liability insurance policies will cover appropriate legal practice in terms of dispensing, immunizations, and point-of-care testing.

Following the manufacturer testing instructions is vital, as is obeying CLIA regulations. If your pharmacy is providing vaccinations, you should already have policies in place regarding record keeping, needle-stick prevention, blood-borne pathogen training, and proper disposal of sharps and samples.

Needed Supplies

You can purchase POCT supplies directly from a testing device manufacturer. However, it would be wise to have more than one supplier. Some pharmacy wholesalers also have programs that provide POCT protocols, resources, supplies, business guidance, and more to help pharmacies elevate their POCT services.

POCT supplies you may need:

  • CLIA-waived POCT tests
  • HbA1c and blood glucose
  • Cholesterol
  • Urine albumin
  • Strep test
  • Mononucleosis
  • UTI
  • Tuberculosis purified protein derivative test
  • STIs


Know Your Customer

Before you jump into marketing strategies, you need to understand your target market thoroughly. You don’t want your campaign to fall flat. So, here are some tips on how you can get to know your customers even better:

  • Talk to your patients: Have your staff engage in conversations with them to get insights into what their needs and preferences may be. You can also conduct a formal Q&A survey.
  • Determine your demographics: Does your pharmacy cater to an elderly population, families with children, or busy executives? Once you know, you can adjust your tests and messaging properly.
  • Analyze your competition: Find out what urgent care centers or same-day clinics offer around your area of
    Don’t forget their pricing and accessibility. See if you can identify any gaps in their service and then focus on filling them.

Make Use of Social Media Marketing

Reach a broader audience by using social media. Let others know about your services and address potential questions and concerns about new services like POCT. Answer common queries such as appointment requirements, walk-in availability, duration, costs, required documentation, and operating hours.

Here are some types of posts you can incorporate:

  • Educational: Inform your audience by sharing video clips, photos, infographics, or live Q&A sessions with healthcare experts.
  • Customer testimonials: When someone lets you know they’re a satisfied customer, ask them if you can capture a video of their testimonial. Or, if someone videos their own testimonial, ask if you can share it on your social media pages.
  • Promotions: Countdown timers and flash sales are fun ways to promote special offers. You can also encourage family or group testing by offering multiple-test discounts.

Participate in Community Health Events

This is a great way to position your pharmacy as a healthcare hub. You can offer free or discounted tests during local health events. Establish expertise by presenting educational material.

Make Use of Local Media

Spread the word of your pharmacy services through local media outlets, such as TV, radio stations, and community newspapers or magazines. When you’re planning to launch a new POCT service, send emails to these same media outlets. You can build relationships with them by keeping them updated on your clinical products and services by emailing them regularly.

Implement a Referral Program for Your POCT Services

You can grow through referrals by following these steps:

  • Determine the reward amount
  • Establish guidelines and logistics
  • Track performance
  • Train your team
  • Promote to the world

Start a thank-you card program

After a patient undergoes testing, send them a handwritten thank-you card. This gesture enhances referrals.

Evaluate your marketing efforts regularly

Track key performance indicators (KPIs). Focus on 3-4 essential KPIs, such as the total number of tests performed, gross sales, referrals, and customer feedback. Keep an open mind and be ready to change your strategies based on both performance metrics and customer feedback.

The Four Primary Goals of Point-of-Care Testing are:

  • Identifying the disease
  • Monitoring the disease
  • Modifying behavior
  • Breaking down barriers to care

Things to Consider for Your Business Plan

  • Where will POCT testing take place in your pharmacy?
  • What tests will your pharmacy administer?
  • What services are local competitors providing?
  • Who is your target market?
  • How will you advertise the services?
  • What training does your team need?
  • How will test results be reported to patients, physicians, and any required public health agencies?
  • What additional resources will you need for counseling patients?
  • How can you best use your support staff to make this service doable?


Marketing to Your Patients

Keep your customers coming back with these simple, in-store, low-cost marketing strategies:

  • On the walls and in their hands: Create flyers, posters, and signage with vibrant colors and clear, concise messaging throughout your pharmacy. Posters should be placed strategically where your patients spend the most time, such as waiting areas, cash registers, and the drive-thru lanes.
  • Bag stuffers: Use bag stuffers to promote different POCT services you provide in your pharmacy. Offer discounts or special promotions to encourage customer purchases.
  • Trained staff: Your staff needs to be knowledgeable and comfortable discussing POCT with patients. Provide regular training sessions to improve their ability to upsell and cross-sell related products.

More articles from the June 2024 issue:

A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies

PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and run by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.

An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.

Editor’s Picks


Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

Sign up for a FREE subscription to Elements magazine!


Sign up to receive PBA Health’s e-newsletter to get the latest Elements web articles in your inbox every other week, along with industry news, supply chain insights, and exclusive offers.

Related Articles

Popular Articles