As the demand for COVID-19 testing and vaccines subsides and our pharmacy teams celebrate all they have accomplished, it’s vital we assess all aspects of retail pharmacy. Whether it’s enhanced clinical offerings, how we stock our shelves or the patient experience — it’s time we evaluate and strategically move forward with two new beliefs top of mind:
1. Patient expectations are now patient demands
The good news? The pandemic only solidified pharmacies as a health destination for patients. Whether it’s point-of-care testing or a mental health appointment, patients can visit the retail pharmacy on the corner. So, the top question for every pharmacy operator today should be, “How do we keep the most engaged consumer engaged?”
It’s a new challenge. Patients are demanding digital access to their care providers, two-day shipping and intuitive tools to navigate costs. We need to be ahead of these new demands to keep the momentum across our industry.
Following the pandemic, patients now know that they can get care when they want it, where they want it and how they want it. According to a recent Vizient report, patients have high expectations when it comes to healthcare services and their communication. The study showed, video visits, text, email or telephone visits with an existing provider are the most preferred method.
Additionally, access to the latest over-the-counter products when the customer wants it is critical. Pharmacies must be able to solve patient demands quickly.
2. Power of partnerships — new, old and emerging
As we assess the traditional pharmacy model — seen by many as ripe for disruption — it’s critical we have flexible partnerships, and we work across the industry to shape our future. Whether it’s leveraging your partnership with your pharmaceutical distributor or piloting innovative solutions with a new partner, now is the time to draw closer to trusted and tested partners.
Health Mart Atlas — McKesson’s pharmacy services administration organization — recently supported an innovative new pilot program that saw a pharmacy member partner with a local payer. Shrivers Pharmacy, a Health Mart Atlas member, joined a pilot program with Molina Healthcare of Ohio to help patients with their medications. Pharmacists administered tests to patients who were regularly filling antidepressants or antianxiety medications. Based on the results, the pharmacist made interventions to help patients maximize their therapy and improve their well-being. Seventy-three percent of patients reported improved or stable scores in the pilot. We’ll continue to see these types of partnerships — between pharmacies and payers — to test and validate the value pharmacists provide.
And then there’s the emerging market. From the expected entrants — Teladoc and GoodRx — to the unexpected, such as UberEats, all eyes are on this space. With more than 20 virtual pharmacy and direct-to-consumer prescription start-ups in 2021 grabbing the market’s attention, retail pharmacies must evaluate all partnerships moving forward and have the right conversations that create value, not just for the pharmacies but for suppliers, partners and, most importantly, patients.
Let’s find the right players to deploy the right solutions that are in line with our industry’s strategic growth. No one company solved COVID-19, and no one company will solve diabetes. Our industry will be at the center of solving America’s complex health issues, so let’s do it together.
As we lead our pharmacy operations teams through these two realities, now is the time to be intentional. Let’s take the gut check. We need to look at all aspects of pharmacy operations and be surgical in the way we all approach growth in 2021 and beyond.