Written by Richard Marcil on December 3, 2013
in Healthcare Marketing

The fast-changing role of pharmacy

I took the kids to a local pharmacy to get their flu shots this week, and let me say what a positive experience it was. That was a bit of a surprise, given that most of my interactions with pharmacists have been typically brief and transactional. This time, our pharmacist literally took time to talk to us about family health as we get into the busy holiday season, spending time with family and friends and gorging on too many good foods.

Retailers are increasingly doing good work in this part of the PatientConsumer™ journey. Sure, connecting with “customers” is not new to retail, with Air Miles being 30 years old and Shoppers Optimum, 20-something. Historically, much of the connecting has been focused on the front of the store, but lately there’s been a visible shift in focus to the PatientConsumer™ and meaningful health outcomes.  Much of this shift is driven by new technology and services on the retail end, but consumers themselves, enabled by always-on connectivity, are also changing their behaviour.. Just check out eMarketer for a prime PatientConsumer™ example. Online services are now commonplace in pharmacy; loyalty programs are starting to resemble what’s available in the US and the UK; and we’re seeing some apps that combine customized health and food offers for better health management.

Shared responsibility

This shift represents a real opportunity from a marketing standpoint. The vast majority of PatientConsumer™ journeys involve pharmacy –repeatedly.

The challenge and opportunity for us as pharma marketers is ensuring that communications and engagement at this critical point in the PatientConsumer™ journey  are consistent with those of primary care, for example, and supportive of brand compliance efforts.

Another very real barrier is making sure that we are engaging the people responsible for pharmacy strategy at retail. More often than not, these are not the same people we deal with for commercial or category management issues In our experience, people responsible for pharmacy strategy are very receptive to PatientConsumer™ journey insights and optimization.

It’s up to us, working with these folks, to define and develop new ways to add value at pharmacy for both pharmacists and patients. All of a sudden, pharmacy-level tools and content become key to enabling pharmacists and engaging patients engagement– and, of course, improving health outcomes. With some of our clients, we’re also working with partners like Telus and Next Paradigm to further deepen such efforts.

There’s an old saying in pharma that an engaged patient makes a better patient. More than ever, we have the opportunity to truly engage the patient at an extremely important part of the PatientConsumer™ journey. Who’s in?

 

 

 

 

 

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