The healthcare industry is currently undergoing a rapid and comprehensive transformation thanks to a few factors. Technological advances have enabled healthcare organizations to restructure their business models around shifting consumer expectations and involvement in their own health care. And retail pharmacy is right in the middle of it all.
Retail Pharmacy as a Hub
Retail pharmacies have become hubs for more than just medication dispensation in the new marketplace. They’ve become decentralized hubs where patients can get prescriptions, healthy food, and many of the other day-to-day medical necessities required for positive patient outcomes and a sterling customer experience. But most importantly, the retail pharmacy has become a place where patients can become empowered through education.
These findings were supported in a recent Providence Veterans Affairs Medical Center study, in which flu vaccination prescriptions increased 2.6 percent in the 41 states that began allowing community pharmacists to provide flu vaccinations over the past several years. With patients increasingly choosing retail pharmacies over the physician's office thanks to cost and convenience, it's no surprise that pharmacists will continue to have a positive impact on comhschmunity health.
Expanding the Pharmacists role
The expanded role of the retail pharmacist brings more information, treatment options and agility to the public as they look for healthcare solutions. This will act as a tremendous boon to public health at a time when there has never been a greater need for affordable healthcare providers that can offer care without disrupting a patient’s lifestyle. Pharmacists have a strong educational background, with a PharmD taking between 5-8 years to obtain, are consistently one of the most trusted professions, and as stated in Pharmacy Times, they take more pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutic classes than any other health care professional. Shifting their role into managing patient care makes sense.
Many states have already begun considering or implementing laws that allow pharmacists the ability to prescribe antibiotics and contraceptive pills, in addition to administering various vaccinations. Because of the convenience the retail pharmacy offers to people every day, regular interactions help build a valuable relationship with patients when it comes to advising on adherence and medication management.
In addition to the clear public health benefit, Kevin McConeghy, PharmD also believes that this new responsibility bequeathed upon the retail pharmacy industry will enable better customer experiences, too.
“Pharmacies are located in rural and urban areas. You don’t need an appointment, they accept insurance plans or cash, and they operate on expanded hours relative to primary-care clinics or other vaccinators. In the end, patients are the winners, and that isn’t always the case in healthcare.”
With all the recent mergers in the pharmacy and healthcare space, now is the time for retail pharmacy leaders to take a close look at whether or not their organization has successfully stepped up to fill an important and emergent role in retail pharmacy. Encouraging pharmacists to offer solutions and finding ways to optimize the pharmacy’s workflow all go hand in hand with offering a stellar customer experience to patients.