Pharmacies aren’t just for filling prescriptions. They are centers of clinical care, offering a variety of services that enhance patients’ health and overall well-being. These services can be general — from offering flu shots to selling OTC products — or they can be specialized. For independent pharmacies, though, specialized services are essential to stand out from competitors. In fact, independents’ ability to move beyond the scripts and offer personalized care is what sets them apart from chain pharmacies. Independents’ commitment to personalization brings in more patients, increases revenue, and shows the efficacy of community pharmacy as a whole.
If you are not already capitalizing on specialized services, you should be. The question still remains, though: What should you specialize in?
While pharmacies can offer a variety of specialized services, it is best to hone in on just one or a few. Creating a niche of services allows you to focus on issues that are relevant to your community and patient base, and helps you to better identify and rectify the issues that need attention. In addition, finding your niche gives you experience in treating a particular problem, helps you enhance your knowledge of it, and allows you to serve your patients better — not only those in your niche, but those throughout your entire pharmacy. Here are just a few of the areas that you can specialize in:
Specialized Services in Independent Pharmacy
Of the estimated 56,000 independent pharmacies in the US, only 7,500 specialize in compounding. However, more and more patients are beginning to require compounded drugs. This surge in demand, combined with the lack of compounding pharmacies currently in business, creates an opportunity for your pharmacy to provide personalized services and generate profit. Studies show that compounding is one of the most profitable services that pharmacies can offer — with a $14B market valuation projected for the next 5 years. If you are looking to stand out from your competitors and boost your business, try compounding.
- Vaccinations and Immunizations
In the wake of COVID-19, independent pharmacies became the epicenter for vaccinations. As a result, many pharmacies are already positioned to offer other types of vaccinations and immunizations. If your pharmacy currently administers COVID-19 vaccines or seasonal vaccines, consider expanding your services and administering them year-round. The convenience and familiarity of independents make them an appealing choice for patients who want to get vaccinated or immunized, and it gives you a chance to improve your bottom line.
- Lab Testing
Over 7 billion lab tests are conducted in the United States every year, making it one of the most in-demand health services. Outside of testing centers, patients look to community pharmacies to offer services like point-of-care testing, health screenings, and pharmacogenetic testing. In fact, the market for lab tests in pharmacies is 58 times larger than the market for flu shots. These numbers reveal a unique opportunity that pharmacies should capitalize on.
From a business standpoint, lab testing can create an additional stream of revenue. From a healthcare provider standpoint, it can help your patients to reconceptualize pharmacy care — seeing it not as a one-stop for prescriptions, but as a complete healthcare destination. By specializing in testing, you can improve patients’ health outcomes and deepen their understanding of what a pharmacy can do for them.
- Medication Synchronization
If your pharmacy works with patients who take multiple medications, you may find it beneficial to specialize in medication synchronization. From the patient’s perspective, medication synchronization simplifies the process of getting prescriptions and increases medication adherence. This is particularly important when considering that 50% of patients with long-term illness do not adhere to their medication.
From the pharmacy’s perspective, medication synchronization can help to reduce the problem of adherence and improve patient outcomes. It can also make workflow more efficient and reduce inventory turnover, saving you time and money.
- Patient Education and Counseling
As a pharmacist, your goal is to inform, educate, and support your patients on their individual health journeys. While this can be accomplished through day-to-day conversations with patients, pharmacies that specialize in patient education and counseling are more likely to have better outcomes. In fact, pharmacies that offer these services see 43% better medication adherence and 34% higher treatment satisfaction.
By taking the time to sit down with patients and discuss their specific questions and concerns, you can be an advocate for their health and offer better quality of care. Patients who receive personalized, comprehensive care are also more likely to return to your pharmacy — and to tell others about it, too.
- Prescription Delivery
To make your patients’ lives easier, find your niche in prescription and OTC delivery. Free or low-cost deliveries appeal to those who are unable to pick up their prescriptions in person or just prefer a more convenient option. If patients find that your pharmacy is willing to accommodate their busy lives and schedules, they are more likely to do business with you. And, as a bonus, delivery cars with your pharmacy’s logo, phone number, and website provide an extra opportunity to market your business.
- Weight Loss + Diabetes Management
73% of Americans are overweight or obese and 10% have diabetes. These two conditions, which are often closely linked, have created a health crisis that you can play a part in eliminating. Pharmacies are well-equipped to treat overweight and diabetic patients. By specializing in this particular area, you can monitor data like weight and blood sugar, help create treatment plans, and get your patients on the path to health using eCare Plans. When you specialize, you can also sell a variety of products — like weight management items and blood glucose meters — that further increases your revenue.
- Vitamins and Supplements
In addition to dispensing prescription medications, you can create a niche in selling over-the-counter or compounded vitamins and supplements. Many patients are interested in improving their health without the use of medication, and others can benefit from taking vitamins and supplements alongside their prescriptions. By specializing in this area, which has a $120B market valuation, you can boost sales, increase your span of care, and support patients’ holistic well-being.
Questions to Consider
After researching the types of specialized services available, zoom in on your pharmacy and your patients. By asking yourself a few key questions, you can determine which services would be the most useful to your patients and the most profitable to your business.
- What do your patients need from you?
Whether it be help with weight loss, sticking to a medication adherence plan, or getting one-on-one counseling, consider the specific needs of your patients. Try having conversations with regulars at your pharmacy, creating surveys and reports, and collecting data on potential health concerns to help you in the process. With this information, you can make a more informed decision about which services will be the most beneficial.
- How can you stand out?
With so many options out there, consider what your pharmacy can offer patients that your competitors can’t. In an effort to do so, research your competitors’ services and find the gaps in care that your pharmacy can help fill. Filling in the gaps isn’t only important for gaining a competitive advantage over other pharmacies; it also grants patients access to robust, comprehensive care, whatever their needs may be.
- Do you have the necessary knowledge and experience?
Take the time to determine whether or not you have the necessary knowledge and experience to provide a specialized service. If you find that your pharmacy is lacking in either of these areas, brainstorm ways that you can get it up to speed. Offer training, attend webinars and information sessions, and provide one-on-one help to prepare your team.
- Can you partner with other health professionals or organizations?
Partnering is one of the most powerful opportunities to grow your pharmacy and enhance the care that you provide. If your pharmacy chooses to work within a niche, consider partnering with other professionals in your area (like doctors, nurses, psychiatrists, and specialists) who can provide you with additional resources and advertise your services.
- Does the service provide growth opportunities?
Consider whether or not the proposed service can increase both your patient base and your profit. Take into account the costs of implementing a specialized service, as well as the projections for success. If you find a net profit, the service may be worth it.
Decide on a Niche
If you are looking for ways to move your pharmacy forward, find a niche. Specialized services demonstrate attention to patients’ problems, a willingness to address them, and a concern for the health of your community. In the process, it creates additional streams of revenue and builds strong business relationships. And, when you decide on a niche, find a pharmacy software system that allows you to easily integrate the service into your workflow, track the progress you make, and manage your new flow of revenue.
The future of independent pharmacy is found in niches — in offering specific, targeted services that chains can’t. In a crowd full of pharmacies who are all vying for patients’ attention, if you want to stand out, specialize.