Few industries are in for as much change in the coming years as the retail pharmacy industry. Healthcare reform continues to dominate headlines, consumer expectations are shifting, pharmacist and technician roles are expanding, technology is improving, the industry is consolidating, and new players like Amazon are encroaching on the status quo.
That said, the retail pharmacy industry is likely to look vastly different ten years from now. What kind of changes can retail pharmacy leaders expect to see moving forward? Late last year, PwC released its “Health Research Institute Spotlight” report, designed to answer that exact question. Let’s take a deeper dive into the key takeaways below:
The pharmacy team of the future
In PwC’s report, they argue that the pharmacist is “one of the most valuable assets in delivering value-based solutions, consistently named among the most trusted professionals in the health industry yet largely relegated to dispensing activities.” According to PwC’s research, it appears that doctors are ready to make pharmacists a more central part of a patient’s care. In fact, 75 percent of PCPs reported that they wanted pharmacists to perform medication management and other related services for their patients. This expanded role for the pharmacist of the future is being enabled primarily thanks to the flexibility created by introducing automated technology in the retail pharmacy. As the role of the pharmacist expands, so will that of the pharmacy technician. Medication therapy management, sterile and non-sterile compounding, and medication reconciliation are just a few of the areas where technicians taking on more responsibility.
Automation with a human touch
As previously stated, the introduction of automation technology will help the pharmacy team of the future have a more comprehensive role in their relationships with patients. PwC argues that pharmacies will succeed or fail based not upon the technology they choose to implement, but rather upon how well the pharmacy can train and reorient their operations to ensure that person-to-person interactions are not lost in the process. Technology, when used correctly, can significantly enhance the relationship between the customer and the pharmacist or pharmacy technician.
Data integration for a seamless customer experience
With the introduction of connected technology to the retail pharmacy space, delivering a superior customer experience will no longer simply be about what takes place at the pharmacy itself. Rather, the pharmacy will act as a hub, garnering data points through telehealth applications, mobile applications and wearable devices. The successful pharmacy of the future will emphasize data integration to help customers make more healthy, informed choices in all facets of their lives. With proximity technology enabled, pharmacists and technicians will soon know not only who is approaching the pharmacy counter or drive-thru, but what they need as well.
Shifting consumer expectations
“Healthcare’s shift of more risk to the consumer, coupled with its deeper dive into retail settings, solidifies the consumer as the lynchpin for business success,” argues the PwC report. Indeed, customer experience is set to rule the marketplace over the next decade. Pharmacy leaders must deliberate methodically when studying the needs of their patients and how they differentiate themselves from the pharmacy across the street.
The successful retail pharmacy of the future will be found at the intersection of technology and customer experience. The services pharmacies offer, the technologies they adopt, and the focus that put on outstanding customer experience will determine who dies, who merely survives, and who thrives in the changing retail pharmacy world.