Pharmacists are in a unique position to lead the digital evolution of health care and be at more touch points on the continuum of care.
Pharmacists today have many new challenges in a landscape of social distancing, box stores, mergers, and decreasing profits. But there are proven ways to improve engagement, health outcomes, and revenue. Pharmacists are in a unique position to lead the digital revolution of health care and be at more touchpoints on the continuum of care. Roger Simard, part of Carebook’s Pharmacy Advisory Board and a member of the WHO’s roster of digital health experts, says that the COVID-19 crisis may be a catalyst for change, allowing pharmacists to carve new roles for themselves as accessible health care professionals, with less emphasis on pill dispensing and more focus on preventative and proactive care.
With more awareness and access to information, patients have more control of their health journeys
Today, patients can access health information from multiple sources and make informed decisions about their care. A recent study says that the number of people turning to the Internet to search for a wide range of health-related information is growing. Approximately 80% of internet users (or 93 million Americans) search for topics ranging from mental health to immunizations. In fact, looking for health and medical information is one of the most popular activities online. (1) However, in terms of the latest information and the credibility of information, people are not finding what they need. Pharmacists can play an important role to give their customers and patients relevant, personalized, credible information.
There are expectations to decrease costs and increase the quality of care
Medication cost is one of the biggest barriers to medication adherence, but in a world of big mergers and retail giants, pharmacies (especially independent ones) struggle to stay competitive in the market. With more to do, and less time, increasing quality of care means gaining efficiencies wherever possible. “For pharmacists,” Simard notes, “there is rising frustration with the inability to spend time with the humans in front of them and to work in an environment that is primarily pill distribution. Let’s face it, robots can dispense pills with better accuracy than any human. Pharmacy used to be lucrative in terms of distribution, but this is not the future. Pills are the same no matter where you get them. This is the time for the industry to shift and acknowledge pharmacists as well trained in care.”
There are many digital solutions that can save time in gathering relevant information and contribute to more meaningful conversations around health. To stay competitive, pharmacists must use new, innovative strategies to take over the mundane tasks so they can offer real value to their customers and patients.
There is an undervaluing of the role of pharmacists in the health care journey
Filling and refilling prescriptions is only part of the value pharmacists can offer their patients on the continuum of care. Pharmacists are on the front-line of care, often having more meaningful and more frequent opportunities to connect one-on-one with patients.(2) Offerings like immunizations, follow-up care, personalized medication adherence programs, and whole health, pharmacists can be valuable partners in the care ecosystem. (3) To improve health outcomes and revenue, pharmacists can offer greater value and personalization.
There is an increased focus on prevention and well-being that pharmacists can use to engage their customers.
Beyond disease management and prevention, there is increasing recognition by health care stakeholders that there are more holistic factors that impact our health—including our environments, stressors, financial well-being, sense of purpose, community, etc. (4) Pharmacies can play a bigger on the continuum of care by addressing more of the whole health journey.
Simard says that the Pharmacy industry must change and that pharmacists need to be compensated for their consultations and advice. “Phone and over-the-counter advice equals health care savings every working day. This is a fact. The system needs to catch up to what we know. Let’s allow our pharmacists to be the driving force of digital innovation. Let the robots dispense, gather data, and do the admin work. Our pharmacists should be compensated and celebrated for their unique training, and the ability to intersect with patients in meaningful ways, at critical times.”
There are many areas of opportunity for pharmacists to improve the health outcomes of their patients and increase revenue. Carebook has an industry-leading digital pharmacy solution that addresses the tough issues pharmacists face with an all-in-one solution. It addresses the patient’s whole health journey and provides increased touchpoints for pharmacists to intersect with the care continuum—and, most importantly, with the humans who stand in front of them.
Carebook’s enterprise pharmacy platform is patient-centered and can be white-labeled. If you’re a pharmacy executive, a pharmacist, work within a pharmacy franchise, or if you’re interested in looking at our many app solutions, book a meeting with us. Carebook is always happy to talk about the future of care.