How to Make More Money in Your Independent Pharmacy
Owning an independent pharmacy is ultimately a business venture, so having a mind for the financials is an absolute necessity. That’s especially true when it comes to the world of independent pharmacy.
It’s a field that’s always changing, ever-evolving to new scientific breakthroughs and adapting to the latest market trends.
The best way to maximize your pharmacy’s profit is to stay current with the latest developments or trends. Customers will almost always opt for the most convenient and least time-consuming way to buy their goods. The same goes for their medications.
Though there isn’t one clear-cut way to maximize your profit, we do know that convenience and ease of use will attract more patients your way.
Here are a few pharmacy services that not only make your patients’ lives easier but can make yours less hectic — and boost your profits in the process.
1. Use Text Messaging
Most pharmacies already have some sort of messaging system to let their patients know about the status of their prescription. Most patients prefer to receive notifications via text — so jump in on the trend if you haven’t already.
Now focus on the content of these text messages. They need to be simple and to the point while telling the patient everything they need to know.
Don’t bombard patients with paragraph-long explanations about why a medication is unavailable or why a manufacturer was swapped. When a medication is ready to be picked up, tell them its status, price, and the last available day they can pick it up. When a drug is out of stock, tell them its projected delivery date.
It’s also important to abide by HIPAA regulations, so be wary of how you communicate potentially sensitive or confidential information through text. Simplicity is especially crucial here, so it never hurts to be intentionally vague about a doctor denying a refill request or a prior authorization being declined.
When in doubt, “Contact the pharmacy for more information” is your best friend.
Text messaging gives your patients a clear avenue of communication and also sometimes reminds them that there is a prescription ready to pick up. Some prescribers authorize refills or send in new prescriptions without informing their patients and that text will be the only way they’ll ever know.
As a result, they’ll pick up and pay for the prescription instead of you having to return it to the shelf.
2. Try Out Mail-Order / Delivery Services
Efficiency and convenience are huge parts of a pharmacy’s success.
As such, pharmacists must work to give patients a hassle-free, painless experience getting their medications. For some, that means not physically going to the pharmacy at all. That’s why it’s important to offer other options like mail-order or delivery services.
Not only are these services convenient, but they also come with other perks.
Mail-order/delivery has the possible added benefit of working with certain insurance programs preferring this model.
Some patients are unable to make it to the pharmacy: physical disabilities, living in an assisted living facility, or a lack of transportation are a few reasons why delivery is sometimes necessary.
Though it might be a sizable investment to offer these services, giving patients more ways to receive their medications will make your pharmacy more attractive and encourages repeat visits. Repeat visitors become loyal customers who can keep your profits up.
3. Boost Your Online Capabilities
Pharmacy operations are always changing, especially when it comes to prescription refills. Luckily, you can stay with the latest trends in refilling. Instead of having patients order their refill through the phone, you can give them a simpler online option.
Being able to request refills through the pharmacy’s automated phone system is indeed very convenient and allows staff to focus on potentially more urgent matters.
But patients opt for a more unique, personalized user experience that caters to them and their specific needs. That’s where online refills, and your pharmacy’s entire online capabilities, come in.
The online mode is a steep investment, but it’s an extremely necessary one to make your pharmacy more efficient.
That’s not to say the online model should be the only way patients can get their prescriptions filled. Giving them a variety of options to fulfill their needs is another way to stand out from the rest of the pack. Make sure your online features are easy to use and understand.
Customization is another plus, allowing patients to coordinate certain features to their liking. Being flexible and accommodating to patient needs will go a long way in making your pharmacy even more appealing.
4. Expand into Clinical Services
Mainly applying to retail pharmacies, offering clinical services is a surefire way to attract even more customers.
Retail and clinical pharmacies used to offer completely different services from one another. However, retail facilities have taken to offer services other than selling prescriptions and a limited array of vaccinations.
Some of these services include:
- Expanded immunizations - HPV, MMR, and meningococcal
- Lab testing - Basic metabolic panel, pneumonia, and meningitis
- Point-of-care testing - Strep, influenza, and HIV
- Veterinary care - Pet-specific products and medications
- Specialty pharmacy - medications for specific illnesses such as cancer and multiple sclerosis
Offering these kinds of services will require specific training and certification if your staff has mainly retail-related experience but will almost certainly pay off in the long run.
Offering clinical services puts your pharmacy in a niche but profitable position.
Specialty medications account for nearly 38% of pharmacy spending in the US, even if they account for less than 1% of prescriptions dispensed. Providing expanded immunizations or pet medications ($123.1 billion was spent on pets in the US) also attracts more patients who can’t get these services elsewhere, making first-time visitors loyal customers.
What Will You Do to Maximize Profitability?
There isn’t one single service that will propel your pharmacy to the top — but running a consistent business with a wide variety of services will help you succeed.
Profitability in this industry is ensured by a loyal customer base that trusts you and your staff to fulfill their medication needs. Following trends in modern conveniences and automation will also help your pharmacy operate more smoothly and allow you to focus on more time-sensitive tasks.
Implementing these kinds of services will make your pharmacy less of a niche facility and make it an all-encompassing, one-stop-shop for a customer’s medical needs.
This will incentivize customers to resume their business with you to get prescriptions filled, receive their annual immunizations, and have checkups for things that would usually require extensive lab work.
As long as these services are simple and easy to use, the customer will stay, ensuring that your pharmacy thrives for years to come.