Written by Cheryl Hoon March 18, 2016
in Pharmacy and retail
March is Pharmacists Awareness month, so I decided to catch up with a few of my friends in the industry to get a firsthand account of how they feel their roles have changed, and get insight on if and how pharma should be looking to partner with them going forward.
The role of the pharmacist has undergone a seismic shift over the past decade, from traditional behind-the-counter pill dispensers to full-time treatment advisors. They’re taking on a much more prominent advisory role on the PatientConsumer™ care team and assuming responsibilities that General Practitioners used to cover.
Overall, it looks like they’re doing a pretty good job. In a study released this month by the Canadian Pharmacists Association “A Review of Pharmacy Services in Canada and the Health and Economic Evidence”, there is a clear, positive correlation between pharmacist and pharmacy service intervention and specific therapeutic areas including smoking cessation, influenza vaccinations, diabetes, and neurological conditions. Not only are population health outcomes improving because of the increased role of the Pharmacist, they’re also helping to reduce or maintain public health care costs, addressing a big hot button issue for payers as well. Pair that up with some recent research from the US revealing growing PatientConsumer™ preference for retail clinics, and you’ve got an unstoppable trend on your hands.
This has real implications for pharma and medical device brands. A clear strategy for pharmacy is no longer a nice to have; it’s a need to have. Here are some thoughts to consider as you look at your plan.
- Do your PatientConsumer journey maps reflect this trend (do you even have current PatientConsumer journey maps)? Does your marketing plan address the importance of the pharmacist’s role in the PatientConsumer journey? Do you have a clear understanding of the motivations and goals of this audience?
- As pharmacy takes on more responsibility from primary care, they are entering some unknown territory. Are you partnering with pharmacy/pharmacists to provide the support and tools they need to help manage their new role? Where does patient support programming for easy counselling and stronger compliance fall in your plan?
- As their ‘to do’ list grows, their time capacity shrinks. Are you working with pharmacy/pharmacists to help them optimize workflow in your brand’s therapeutic area? It’s time to look at pharmacy IT partners for integration opportunities within pharmacy management systems.
Bottom line – it’s business as unusual in pharmacy and relying on traditional tools is just not going to move the needle. Brands have to start thinking about stronger, more innovative programming to win the ever-busy and increasingly-influential Pharmacist.
Cheryl Ho is a an Account Director at Ariad Health.