August 13, 2020
Inside: New pharmacy trends that independent owners need to know.
Last week, JD Power released its 12th annual U.S. Pharmacy Study. The study interviewed over 13,000 pharmacy patients to determine the changing consumer attitudes about pharmacy. They asked patients what they like best about visiting the pharmacy, and what makes them spend money during their visits.
Read on for select insights from this year’s study, and learn how you can take advantage of these upcoming pharmacy trends.
Around half of all pharmacy patients have used a health and wellness service at their pharmacy in the past year, an upward trend from 2020. And pharmacies that offer these services rate more highly in overall customer satisfaction than those that don’t.
The study also found that health and wellness services can drive spending. Patients who use health and wellness services spend an average of $35 during their pharmacy visit, while patients who don’t spend $24. When patients use multiple pharmacy services, their spending jumps up to $58. Patients who use services are also more satisfied with their pharmacy experience than those who skip out.
“It’s clear that pharmacy operations are positioning themselves to become hubs of consumer healthcare, edging into the space once reserved for primary care physicians’ offices,” said J.D. Power managing director of healthcare intelligence James Beem. “What has not been clear until now is exactly how consumers would react to the shift. Simply put, they’re embracing it, and it’s driving higher overall satisfaction and increased spending as they use more health and wellness-oriented services.”
If you already offer health and wellness services, go the extra mile to let your patients know about them. Tell them about the healthcare opportunities you offer when they come to pick up their prescriptions, and invest in print and digital marketing to let the wider community know about the services that are available to them.
If you don’t currently offer health and wellness services, think seriously about adding them. Think about your community’s specific health needs to help you decide which services would be most worthwhile to add. Attractive options include:
Patients who ordered their prescription through a digital channel from a brick-and-mortar pharmacy rated their customer satisfaction more highly than those who visited the pharmacy in person.
But despite the fact that digital ordering promotes greater satisfaction, only 9 percent of patients reported using digital channels to order their prescriptions. However, the survey was conducted between September 2019 and May 2020, so it doesn’t fully account for the digital demand created by the coronavirus pandemic.
To increase patient satisfaction, promote the digital refills in the store and through your marketing efforts. You can even walk patients through the process of downloading your pharmacy’s app to encourage them to start using it.
Remember to meet patients at their comfort level by providing multiple easy-to-use digital solutions. If patients want to use their desktop computers to request a refill, give them the ability to do so on your full website. Others may want to use their smartphones without having to download an app, meaning your website needs to be mobile-friendly. And your app, mobile site, and desktop site should have a unified user experience, so patients don’t have to learn a whole new process to request a refill on each platform.
An average consumer spends more than 2 hours using mobile apps every day, so if you can tap into that market, you’ll be able to promote your pharmacy and improve customer satisfaction in a big way. A great mobile app will:
A smartly designed app that makes it easy for patients to refill prescriptions will increase their customer satisfaction, but a poorly designed digital experience can leave them frustrated, so it’s crucial to invest in the right digital tools
One of the best ways to convince patients to use the health and wellness services you provide is for them to receive a recommendation. JD Power reports that when patients receive a recommendation about a service your pharmacy provides from their physician, 80 percent will end up using the service. Recommendations from friends and family are almost as useful, with a 75 percent utilization rate.
The flip side of these promising stats is that patients are pretty unlikely to receive these recommendations— only 8 percent of patients reported that they had received a recommendation for pharmacy services from a doctor, and 9 percent had received recommendations from their friends and family.
You can improve those stats by establishing good relationships with the physicians in your community. Identify the top three or four prescribers for your pharmacy and meet with them once a year to discuss what kind of services you offer and talk about how you can collaborate to keep your patients healthy. Then, keep them updated with your general email newsletter or create a newsletter specifically for physicians in your area.
To increase the recommendations coming from friends and family, create a referral program for your longtime patients. You can offer a discount when they refer a new patient to a pharmacy service, or give away small freebies. Even without a formal program, you can remind patients to tell their friends and family about the pharmacy’s offerings if they are happy with their services.
In addition to referrals, the JD Power study also found that in-store advertising was an important way that patients found out about new pharmacy services.
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.
An HDA member, PBA Health 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.
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