Julie Doucet, award-winning pharmacist and part of Carebook’s Pharmacy Advisory team, has been on the forefront of innovation in her 21+ years as a pharmacy owner. Over the last year, with COVID-19 as an accelerator, disruptive digital pharmacy solutions have been more in the spotlight, and many “nice-to-have” features have turned into “must-haves” for pharmacies and pharmacy chains that want to lead the way. Here, Julie Doucet shines the spotlight on several considerations that pharmacies, pharmacists, and the industry should be focusing on for success in 2021.
ACCESSIBILITY & CONNECTION
“Patients trust their pharmacists. We are valuable sources of information and can serve as an information hub and a validator of information. And in the past, we’ve always been just a phone call away. But more than ever, the last year has highlighted the need for pharmacists to be ‘always on’, and I think that’s where a robust digital pharmacy solution can help. Pharmacists are so stretched for time. Some pharmacy chains stepping up their social media presence, even if it’s simply to relay information. But I predict people won’t let that accessibility go, even when we can all be back in stores. Consolidated digital solutions will give pharmacists back some time. These solutions will enable pharmacists to empower their patients with personalized outreach; For example, reminders about immunizations or targeted communication about aspects of health and wellness that patients care about—these are the future-facing solutions we need.”
HEALTH & WELLNESS EXPANSION
“Getting to know patients and their families is something many pharmacists do. And more and more, we’re seeing the desire for information about a big-picture of health and wellness and preventative care. We tend to work best with more information. It makes sense that the more we know about our patients, the better we can serve them. The patient care of the near future will demand that a more holistic view of health and wellness is part of the practice. And that’s where innovation and digital solutions can come in and really help us carry this. Just think of the position we’re in as accessible health professionals! We’re able to build strong relationships with patients and families over time. I’m thinking about some of my diabetic patients who could benefit from persistent, caring counsel about diet and exercise. If we can see snapshots of a patient’s health and wellness, as well as their medication history, we can serve them on so many touch points on the continuum of care.”
IMMUNIZATIONS & RETAIL OPPORTUNITY
“With a surge of COVID-19 immunization appointments coming—not just this year, but for years to come, there’s an opportunity to strategize about business benefits right now. For our patients, digital solutions are going to be necessary to help people deal with family health records, scheduling appointments, tracking side effects, and more. This won’t be going away. For pharmacists, integration of a digital calendar and booking system will be needed to help manage the practical side of this mass vaccination plan. Besides those very practical pharmacy services that a digital pharmacy solution can help with, those pharmacies with retail touch points can do a lot to boost sales while their patients are in their stores. For example, we know that people who come in for their vaccinations need to wait in the event of side effects. So why not provide opportunities to boost retail sales while your customers are right there? Perhaps tie these events into a loyalty and rewards event. Pharmacists need to take the time to plan their strategies. It’s hard when we’re so short on time. But it’s necessary.”
PROFESSIONAL RECOGNITION & COMPENSATION
“Pharmacists must continue the hard work of being recognized as some of the most accessible health professionals on the planet. We do phone consultations, drug counseling, patient management, and so much more without compensation. I field many calls from patients who have done internet searches and want to validate the information they’re finding. This system isn’t easy to change, and innovation tends to come slowly and the reality is that no big box pill distribution can offer the value and expertise that we do. It’s truly our differentiator. Advancements will take much lobbying from the industry as a whole to expand the scope of practice that we’re paid for; the consultations, the calls, the check-ins, the tracking down of information so we see the big picture. To evolve and be successful as professionals and as businesses, this must happen.”
COMMITMENT TO BEING PATIENT-CENTRIC
“Truly, pharmacists are in such a unique position to build relationships, but we don’t always have the time. We need the right digital tools to help bring all the things our pharmacists and patients need into one spot. We must invest in technology to solve our pain points or our businesses will die. If I had a wishlist of what I could have as a pharmacist to help my patients and my business, it would be a patient-centered, personalized hub; a solution built to serve the people. It would be powerful enough to store their information, track information, and also to connect to their ecosystem of health professionals. Too many things are missed now. The system is fragmented and we often don’t get to talk to other health professionals or access the patient data we need to offer the most help; we want to, but the information isn’t there, or it’s not connected. It should be. Patients are the core of our business. The ideal is to give our patients the tools to be more involved with their health information and for us to be connected to that information in ways that allow us to focus on the best solutions.”
About Julie Doucet
Julie Doucet has been a pharmacy owner for more than 21 years and has won several awards including Pharmacist-owner of the year in Canada at Shoppers Drug Mart/Pharmaprix and the Pharmacotherapy mother-child award at CHU Ste-Justine. She’s promoted different types of care in her community including the set-up of innovative services like travel vaccination, breastfeeding support, chronic disease management, and fertility services. She frequently lectures at conferences and is currently developing new, digital pharmacy tools.
Today, Carebook offers a proven digital health platform with powerful features including medication management, health and wellness, retail and loyalty, and more. Pull together your revenue streams into one, single spot—your customer’s hands. And Carebook is already planning for tomorrow with medication AI research with two important Canadian Universities, robust Caregiver components, and new, integrated rPPG technology that measures vital signs using only a smartphone. To find out how Carebook can help your organization lead digital health and wellness today and tomorrow, please contact Howard Fried.