How to Make a Good Pharmacy Great (Free Checklist!)

How to Make a Good Pharmacy Great (Free Checklist!) by Elements magazine |

Inside: Want to take your independent pharmacy to the next level? Discover how to make a good pharmacy great with simple strategies you can implement today.

Is your pharmacy great?

Statistics say probably not, as gross margins for independent pharmacies have fallen by 5 percent over the past three years. And, total prescription volume and the number of independent pharmacies continues to drop.

But still, your business is a good pharmacy. You generate solid revenue from dispensing prescriptions. You also offer additional services like immunizations and medication synchronization.

However, looking at the trends in the industry, you’re rightly wondering how your pharmacy business can take the next step.

You’re seeking to make your good pharmacy great.

What can you do to set your pharmacy apart from all the other good pharmacies?

RELATED: How to Jumpstart Your Pharmacy Business Right Now

What makes a good pharmacy great, anyway?

The greatness of a retail pharmacy depends on the purpose of a retail pharmacy.

Every pharmacy may differ in its mission. But all pharmacies exist for at least two reasons:

1. Patients
2. Profits

Your pharmacy is both a business and a healthcare provider.

A great business makes great profits and gives customers what they want. A great healthcare provider provides great care to patients.

To make a good pharmacy great, you need to deliver both of those.

Use these steps to take your independent pharmacy to the next level.

How to go from good to great through patients

Patients and profits are co-dependent.

Patient health is a goal in itself, of course. But the better care you provide to your patients, the more money you’re also likely to make.

So, improving the overall experience for your patients is the best path to go from good to great.

3 Steps to Deliver Great Patient Care the Way Patients Want

The key to providing a great patient experience is less about what you offer and more about how you offer it.

A great pharmacy doesn’t only provide patients with prescription products. It provides them with prescription products quickly and safely.

And, a great pharmacy doesn’t just provide needed clinical services (although it does do that as well). It provides the services patients want in the way they want.

Step 1: Give patients convenience

Patients have grown accustomed to getting what they want when they want it.

If your pharmacy is great at everything, but you’re slow, patients will find another pharmacy. Some patients report that they abandon pharmacies simply because they have to wait too long for their prescriptions.

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

Great pharmacies also provide convenient options for getting patients their medications, such as delivery, curbside pickup, and a drive-thru.

Additionally, digital refills are essential to provide modern patients with a convenient way to fill and track their prescriptions whether online or through a mobile app. You should still offer more traditional methods, like IVR, too.

Step 2: Give patients great customer service

Providing convenience is only the first step. Patients can get convenience everywhere, whether through a national chain pharmacy or through mail order.

That in itself can’t make your business great.

Great pharmacies go a step further than convenience by providing great customer service.

Great customer service makes patients feel appreciated, cared for, and ultimately satisfied with their experience.

When patients leave your pharmacy feeling confident, content, and cared for, you’ve taken your pharmacy from good to great.

Keys to great customer service include:

  • Always have pharmacists available to answer questions
  • Get to know patients by name
  • Have friendly staff available in the front end to help patients find what they need
  • Train your staff to know about front-end products
  • Encourage employees to smile during patient interactions
  • Dedicate employees to exclusively handle patient complaints

Step 3: Give patients personal care

National chain pharmacies can never be great. Why?

Because they can’t get to know and care for their patients at a personal level.

But your community pharmacy can.

Learn the names of your patients. If they allow you, go beyond the surface level and ask them about important things, like their family, their work, and their interests.

Tailor every consultation to the particular situation of each patient. That takes getting to know them, earning their trust, and possibly collaborating with their physician.

Make sure your pharmacy has enough pharmacists to personally consult every patient who walks in your door. Many patients find it more convenient to visit their local pharmacy than to try to get an appointment with their physician. They expect their community pharmacists to know about their health personally and to more involved in their outcomes than simply handing them medication.

But don’t give consultations at the counter. Invest in a private consultation room where patients can meet with you face-to-face without fear of being overheard. Consultation rooms are also great for providing immunizations and other clinical services.

Great pharmacies prioritize personalization.

How to go from good to great through profits

Focusing on patients is the first step to make a good pharmacy great.

But no matter how great your service and your care, if your profit margins are too slim, your pharmacy will stay stuck at good.

To truly make a good pharmacy great, you also need to increase profit.

3 Surefire Strategies to Boost Your Pharmacy Profit

Boost pharmacy profits right away with these surefire strategies.

1. Provide high-margin services

Good pharmacies make the mistake of offering services with poor margins. Great pharmacies offer high-margin services.

Good pharmacies rightly want to diversify their revenue, so they add a service or two to their offerings. But they don’t give much thought to how much the service costs them and how much it’ll make them.

For example, services like compounding, specialty pharmacy, and veterinary medicine provide significant margins because patients pay for them primarily with cash rather than insurance.

To make a good pharmacy great, focus on providing those profitable services.

2. Improve inventory management

Managing your pharmacy inventory effectively can lead to better cash flow and greater profitability.

Boost profits by implementing pharmacy inventory best practices like reducing stockpiling, removing slow or dead product, and conducting regular inventory reviews to identify dispensing trends.

3. Buy pharmacy inventory more profitably

Good pharmacies dispense a steady stream of prescriptions. But low reimbursements and high PBM clawbacks squeeze your profits.

Even as good pharmacies churn out prescriptions, they struggle to merely stay afloat.

Great pharmacies, on the other hand, find ways to increase their margins and thrive.

When it comes to dispensing medication, you only have one way to increase your margins. As things stand, you aren’t getting paid more from third parties that control your reimbursements. In fact, reimbursements continue to shrink year after year.

Which leaves you with one option to make more profit on your prescriptions: spend less on your inventory. The less you spend to buy your inventory, the more you make when you sell your inventory.

Which means buying better is a foolproof way to make a good pharmacy great.

But many variables go into buying more profitably.

And you don’t want to buy from just anyone.

Verify that your suppliers meet these criteria:

  • State licensure
  • Complies with track-and-trace requirements
  • VAWD certification
  • HDA membership
  • Independently owned

From there, look for opportunities that best fit your business.

If you primarily buy from small, secondary wholesalers…

Make sure you use a quality supplier. You might not know who has handled your drugs if you buy from unlicensed secondary wholesalers. Verify all credentials with your suppliers before buying product.

A good option: BuyLine™ is an online pharmaceutical ordering service from PBA Health that gives you access to a full line of pharmaceutical products with competitive pricing. All products are backed by PBA Health, a VAWD-certified independently owned pharmaceutical distributor. Ordering with BuyLine is as simple, straightforward, and fast as it gets. Buy the pharmaceuticals you need on the easy-to-use website when you need them.

If you have an arrangement with a primary wholesaler…

Consider using a service that can help your pharmacy optimize its primary wholesaler arrangement.

A good option: ProfitGuard® is primary wholesaler contract negotiation and management service from PBA Health that secures independent pharmacies with the best primary wholesaler contract possible.

The service aligns with primary wholesalers to improve pharmacies’ purchasing arrangements. It’s a different take on a pharmacy group purchasing organization. ProfitGuard forms regional group of pharmacies to create buying power and its contract experts negotiate the group’s business across multiple national wholesalers.

The service also includes dynamic data analytics tools to help pharmacies monitor and improve their purchasing.

Don’t settle for good. Strive for great. Follow these simple strategies to make a good pharmacy great right away.


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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