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Understanding Your Customers
Paul Jones
Understanding who you are and want to be and what your community expects from you is the only way to establish a clear and valued identity, says Paul Jones.

Understanding who you are and want to be and what your community expects from you is the only way to establish a clear and valued identity, says Paul Jones.

I have always felt that pharmacy should be a part of the multidisciplinary health team looking after a patient. Although community pharmacists work in physical isolation from doctors, nurses, dentists and all other healthcare professionals, technology is bringing us closer.

DELIVERING SERVICE

Paul Jones

We have tried to create Moodie’s pharmacy as a ‘health destination’ that meets the needs of patients in our community.

This has not only meant creating a health and wellness offer, but also changing the way we engage patients. We understood that we couldn’t just be transactional with patients but needed to take a holistic approach to help them manage their health beyond just the medications.

Over time, we have reduced the area of non-pharmacy items (e.g. gifts, beauty) and increased the area allocated to health services and pharmacy-only items. This has resulted in a change in the mix of what we stock, but it remains complementary to our core business of providing prescription medication.

PRIVACY, RECORDS AND TRAINING

To provide services and a valued identity for your community, I believe you need three key enablers within your pharmacy:

1. Consultation rooms
2. Guildcare software to record what we do
3. Well-trained professional pharmacists

We actively market the services we provide under the ‘Easyclinic’ name, which are highly visible consulting rooms where customers can observe a variety of services taking place.

We have a ‘Professional Services’ Pharmacist who is also known as a Customer Care pharmacist, a Back Counter pharmacist and a Retail pharmacist.

Patients don’t always know what services they need with their medication, so having a proactive team that can identify when a patient may benefit from a service is key to showing that we are accessible and always available to deliver services.

“Not every pharmacy or pharmacist wants to become a health destination. That’s okay. But you can still find ways to provide value.”

An example of this may be a parent who has collected a child from day care with conjunctivitis. When they come into the pharmacy to get advice and eye drops, we are able to offer them a sick leave certificate for work. We have offered this service to workers from a call centre nearby. When they go home from work sick but come to the pharmacy for medication, the pharmacist is able to offer them an absence certificate.

A patient may come in to pick up medication for diabetes and hypertension and complains of being tired and asks if this is a side effect of the medication. We may then discuss this further, complete a MedsCheck and offer to screen for sleep apnoea and discuss potential risks in this type of patient. This could then lead to a home sleep study and/or other support services.

To ensure the patient feels like the pharmacist is part of their healthcare team, we would send the patient’s GP the Medscheck report and a referral about the possibility of sleep apnoea.

Teamwork goes both ways. We have patients referred to us from GPs for a collaborative weight loss service. This would involve recording height, weight, waist measurement, blood sugar levels and cholesterol on Guildcare so that we have a permanent record of what we are doing that we can share with the patient and GP.

WHAT NEXT?

Not every pharmacy or pharmacist wants to become a health destination. That’s okay. But you can still find ways to provide value.

So do some research, talk to people within the community and find out what they want. Then find the balance between what they want and who you want to be - and you’ll soon find yourself in a more rewarding and fulfilling position.