May 28, 2020
Inside: How to find and utilize valuable data on your patients and your pharmacy business.
Owners of small businesses like an independent pharmacy trust their gut to make a lot of important decisions. But your gut isn’t always right. Instead, pharmacy owners can make smarter decisions by turning to data.
While the term “big data” might be overwhelming to someone who isn’t a computer scientist, what it actually means is all the information that’s collected as you go about your day to day business. Taking a look at that data and using it to find patterns and make decisions can make your pharmacy more profitable and more pleasant for patients.
It would be a lot easier to run your pharmacy if you could read your patients’ minds. Although probably can’t do that, patients leave all sorts of clues to what they’re thinking in the way they interact with you online and in the store. You just have to look at the data the right way to solve the mystery.
Collecting data on your patients’ habits might seem like a massive undertaking, but much of this information is already at your fingertips. You can learn about your customers by using:
Analytic information and software statistics are already there, waiting for you to seek them out. You may have to do a little extra work to collect information from patients using loyalty programs, marketing emails, or surveys, but the information you gain from it will save you time in the long run. From these sources, you can learn all sorts of information about your patients, like:
By analyzing this information, you can fine tune your products and services to meet patients’ particular needs.
It’s easier to keep current patients than to entice new ones, and you can use data to keep your most loyal patients engaged with your pharmacy.
Use the data from your loyalty program to see how often those patients are visiting the pharmacy, how much they’re spending, and what kind of promotions they are taking advantage of. Then use that information to keep them coming into the pharmacy.
With your loyalty program data in hand, you can send out targeted product recommendations and promotions. Patients with a track record of buying diabetes products will want to know about the new and improved technology you carry, while patients who purchase products from the gifts section of your front end may appreciate a coupon for products made by local artisans.
These kinds of personalized rewards keep your patients visiting the pharmacy—and encourage them to increase their basket size each visit.
With the analytic data from your website and social media, you can have a better understanding of who your patients are demographically and can segment them for more effective marketing.
Getting the message right in your marketing materials is crucial, but the message that works on a 70-year-old retiree with multiple medical conditions may not resonate with a healthy, career-focused millennial. Think of the data you mine from your web analytics as patients telling you how and what they want to hear from you.
By segmenting your marketing messages, you are telling patients that you understand their needs and have the ability to provide them with personalized care.
Data can help you be the best version of your pharmacy. It enables you to offer products and services that patients really want and to provide customer service leaves them feeling taken care of.
The data in your point-of-sale can tell you a lot about the inventory you keep on your shelves. It can show you which products are being purchased together, the sales trends for products over time, and what products are most likely to be returned or exchanged.
With this information, you may decide to run a promotion bundling products like sunglasses and sunscreen together or start ordering more of a product that has upward-trending sales. If a certain blood pressure monitor is consistently exchanged for a different one, you may decide to take it off your shelves.
You can also gain valuable insight by asking patients directly about their needs and experiences. This can give you a more human perspective than computer-generated analytics.
Surveys can give you a good idea of how the community views your pharmacy and provide information about specific experiences patients have had in your store (good and bad). With this direct feedback, you can complement great product selection with improved services that make it so patients leave the pharmacy satisfied.
In addition to giving you more insight into your patients, you can also mine your data for ways to make your pharmacy more efficient—and in turn, more profitable.
Data can help you keep your labor costs down while keeping your employees satisfied. Use analytics from your point-of-sale to identify which periods of the day are the busiest and which ones are slow in order to allocate the proper number of employees. If the pharmacy is always dead at 10 a.m., you don’t need to have as many people working as you do during the 5 p.m. rush hour.
If you use scheduling software to help make your staff’s schedules, that can also provide you with valuable data for things like overtime trends. If you see that your consistently pushing employees into overtime, it could be time to hire another set of hands.
Just like your patients, you can also gain valuable data by asking your employees about their thoughts directly. One of the most valuable times to do this is when an employee is leaving the pharmacy. If you can identify why they left, you might be able to take steps to prevent others from leaving, preventing costly turnover.
Inventory management is one area of the business where you’ve always had a lot of data — but because there’s such a large volume of information, it can be difficult to parse through it all.
Luckily there are plenty of opportunities to apply automation to that data and make your inventory management more efficient. To ensure you’re keeping your store well-stocked without being overstocked, you can move to a perpetual inventory system that automatically reorders products when they reach a certain threshold.
You can also make sure you’re buying efficiently with a tool like ProfitGuard Navigation, which recommends the NDCs you should buy and which supplier you should buy from to reach your maximum rebate based on your specific contract’s terms and incentives. For the average pharmacy, that could make the difference of more than $100,000 per year.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is a member-owned organization that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own NABP-accredited (formerly VAWD) warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
Want more pharmacy business tips and advice? Sign up for our e-newsletter.