Here’s the Truth About Why People Aren’t Choosing Your Independent Pharmacy

Here’s What People Consider When Choosing a Pharmacy by Elements magazine |

You likely have regular patients who love your independent community pharmacy.

You and your pharmacists know what services they’re looking for and how to make them happy.

But what about when it comes to gaining new patients? Do you know what makes people choose one pharmacy over another?

Now’s your chance to find out.

The Factors That Determine How People Choose Their Pharmacy

It comes down to one factor: convenience.

A 2012 consumer-to-business survey conducted by Drug Store News found that 94 percent of consumers choose their primary pharmacy based on location and convenience. Customer service followed close behind at 50 percent.

The survey asked consumers, “If all pharmacies accepted your insurance or charged the same amount for your prescription, what would be the most important factors when choosing a pharmacy?”

The factors patients want when choosing a pharmacy:

  • Convenience (94 percent)
  • Customer service (50 percent)
  • Prescription fill time (22 percent)
  • Operating hours (11 percent)
  • Non-pharmaceutical inventory (10 percent)
  • Accuracy (9 percent)
  • Trusted (4 percent)
  • Mailing option (3 percent)
  • Privacy (3 percent)
  • Cleanliness (3 percent)

Do these findings surprise you, or are they about what you’d expect?

Either way, you can use this information to bring in more patients to your pharmacy.

Here’s Why Savvy Patients Are Looking for More When Choosing a Pharmacy

Today’s patients recognize pharmacists for their expanding role in health care.

A 2014 Consumer Reports survey highlighted 10 big reasons patients may want to switch pharmacies. And almost every reason centers on care.

10 reasons patients may want to consider switching pharmacies:

1. Patients can’t easily consult their pharmacist
Patients can’t receive good health care if they can’t access their pharmacist. This affects their decision when choosing a pharmacy.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Don’t make patients stand at the checkout counter to discuss their medical concerns. Ask patients to chat with you in a private consultation room.

2. Patients have to wait for prescriptions
When patients feel sick, they only get more miserable waiting for their medications in a dingy waiting area.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Reduce wait times in your pharmacy with a more efficient workflow, pharmacy automation and a well-managed staff.

3. Their pharmacy is often out of a medication
If your pharmacy doesn’t have a prescription a patient needs in stock, she’ll quickly go to a different pharmacy. Any may not return.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Improve your pharmacy inventory management to ensure your pharmacy always has the medication patients need in stock.

4. Patients are paying too much
Because of preferred networks and other payment issues, your pharmacy can’t always help patients save money on their prescriptions. Despite these challenges, you have a few options to help patients with their out-of-pocket costs.

Make your pharmacy stand out: You have a few options to help patients save money on prescriptions including performing a medication review to look for unnecessary medications, asking patients to consider substituting brands for generics, encouraging patients to fill 90-day instead of 30-day, and offering to process the prescription as a cash payment.

5. They make lots of trips for medication
Patients don’t like making multiple trips to the pharmacy to pick up different medications.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Offers patients a medication synchronization program. With this automatic refill synchronization, patients can pick up all of their (or their family’s) medications once a month.

6. Their pharmacy doesn’t offer preventative care
Patients want convenient health care options, like immunizations and preventative care services.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Let patients know you offer preventative care options like vaccines, travel immunizations, a smoking cessation program, and health screenings.

7. Their pharmacy doesn’t keep tabs on their health
Many patients find it more convenient to visit their local pharmacy than to try to get an appointment with their physician. As pharmacists’ role in health care expands, patients are looking to pharmacies to offer more primary care.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Work with certain patients’ primary physicians to do routine testing, like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and cholesterol screening.

8. The pharmacy doesn’t use up-to-date technology
Patients today want to order and refill prescriptions as easily as possible with the latest technology.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Offer patients the convenience of using their computer tablet or smartphone to complete their pharmacy needs. Offer a website or mobile app so patients can request refills and set a pick-up time. Also, send text and email reminders to patients to refill or pick up their prescriptions.

9. Patients need individualized services
Some patients need special services to improve their health or to help them manage their medications.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Offer individualized services for patients that national chain pharmacies don’t offer. Services like compounding, blister packaging, and durable medical equipment, will set your pharmacy apart.

10. Patients want their medications delivered
Many patients don’t have the time or the means to make it to the pharmacy at all. Often, that means patients turn to mail order.

Make your pharmacy stand out: Offer patients a prescription delivery service for free. Or, charge a nominal fee within a certain area.

How to Better Market Your Pharmacy to Potential Patients

Consumers overwhelmingly chose their pharmacy based on location and convenience, according to the Drug Store News survey.

Many patients think about proximity first. Chances are that means they’ll start using the closest national chain pharmacy to fill their prescriptions. They get used to the pharmacy and continue to use that pharmacy because they don’t know what other pharmacies offer.

When it comes to marketing your pharmacy, get to know the current and potential patients in your area to increase your business’s profitability and market share.

Knowing and understanding your business’s demographics is a good start to help you market to your best patients.

Demographics include direct factors such as:

  • Age
  • Income
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Generation
  • Nationality or culture
  • Job
  • Religion
  • Education
  • Family life cycle (single, married, kids, empty nest, etc.)

You probably already know some information about the majority of your patients. Do you mainly serve low-income seniors? Or, maybe your best customers are parents with kids? If you’re not sure, take a look at your database of patients in your pharmacy software system to find out.

You can use this data to gain an advantage in today’s competitive environment. With your best patients in mind, you can develop better-targeted marketing campaigns and also provide more successful services and retail products at your pharmacy.

Set your pharmacy apart so patients will pick your business when choosing a pharmacy.

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 owned 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 secondary wholesaler 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.

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

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