As an independent pharmacy, your goal is to become a healthcare destination in your community. That means going far beyond dispensing. It means attracting patients that will stay with your pharmacy for the long-term. And don’t forget that a great number of referrals can come from physicians and other members of the community. Being involved in the entire patient lifecycle will get you closer to this goal.
Your Patient Lifecycle
Your patient lifecycle comprises the process of attracting, engaging, and delighting the patients you serve. In a thriving pharmacy, your patient lifecycle should progress indefinitely as you meet the changing needs of your patients.
Attracting patients to your pharmacy is divided into two parts: reach and acquisition. You reach patients through a marketing strategy that gets their attention, keeps your pharmacy top of mind, and drives traffic to your store. If you’re not already utilizing social media to attract new patients into your pharmacy, start by using one of these 20 social media prompts. Once you’ve reached potential patients, you can help them understand their options.
Engaging your patients is also divided into two parts. Once you’ve acquired a patient, you engage them through a conversion followed by a retention strategy. You’ve converted a patient when they purchase a product or service from your pharmacy, but the relationship should not stop there. Using an effective retention strategy, you can reactivate these patients to engage with your services again and again.
Delighting your patients is an important and often forgotten step in the patient lifecycle. When you set your pharmacy apart and delight your patients, they are more likely to return. They are also more likely to refer their friends and family to your pharmacy, bringing you new business without the added marketing dollars. You can go that extra mile through thank you cards, follow up phone calls, and leveraging data to predict their upcoming needs. You should also consider executing a loyalty program for returning patients.
The Power of Referrals
JD Power, a global leader in consumer insights, determined that 80% of patients will utilize a service if it’s recommended by their physician and 75% will utilize a service if it’s recommended by their friends and family. This means referrals have a lot of pull on your pharmacy’s reputation, profitability, and your role in the community.
If your pharmacy is not offering a service being actively recommended by physicians and other members of the community, then you are in a position to lose patients to your competition. This doesn’t mean you should offer every service available, but it does mean you need to consistently adapt your products and services to respond to the changing needs of your patient population.
It is five times more expensive to acquire new patients than it is to retain existing ones and have them do the marketing legwork for you through referrals. You’ll also notice a higher success rate of 60 to 70% when selling to and through existing patients. Overall, extending your patient lifecycle can increase your profits anywhere from 25 to 95% while simultaneously expanding your client base.
Rate Your Pharmacy
Before you dive in to extending your patient lifecycle, you need to assess where your pharmacy is now. To do this, we use the traditional stoplight approach.
If your pharmacy is in the red, you are providing an inconsistent patient experience, your workflow is reactive or non-existent, your team is unaware of ancillary products or services, and you have little integration between departments. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed if your pharmacy is currently sitting in the red zone. In fact, our Chief Pharmacy Officer, Elaine Ladd, at one point started there too.
A pharmacy in the yellow has moved up from the red zone, but still has work to do. A yellow pharmacy has identified clear opportunities for improvement and implemented a manual process for follow-up and upselling. However, there is still limited integration between departments and workflow inefficiencies that continue to impact service delivery.
Your pharmacy has entered the green when you are leveraging data to inform and/or upsell patients and you provide a personalized and interactive level of patient care. Green pharmacies have a highly integrated workflow and consistently evaluate data to identify new opportunities and changes in the marketplace. This creates an excellent experience for your patients and gives them reason to keep coming back. Remember that even if you are in the green today, a lack of proper monitoring and tracking could put you in the red tomorrow, so be vigilant.
Get in the Green
If you suspect our pharmacy is in the red or yellow zones, we encourage you to reach out to us to perform a full assessment. We’ll connect you with a coach who can help you with goal-setting, developing effective strategies, and bringing your pharmacy into the green.