Independent Pharmacy Trends to Watch

First Financial Bank
In today’s ever-changing landscape, it can seem impossible to keep up with the latest trends affecting the independent pharmacy industry.

Emerging technology, complex reimbursement issues, response to a pandemic and changing consumer preferences are just a few factors that savvy pharmacists and pharmacy owners need to keep an eye on in order to remain competitive. Below we’ve included a few trends to watch that may be important to the growth of your pharmacy.

Delivery in Demand

Even prior to the pandemic, home delivery for prescriptions was a trend on the rise. With Amazon, the big box stores and online pharmacies now providing prescriptions via home delivery and/or mail, customers appreciate both the ease and safety in the approach. Independent pharmacies will need to assess how to support an option for their community to keep competitive.

Pharmacists as Providers Gaining Attention

Gaining provider status for pharmacists opens up opportunities for enhancing offerings to your community. With the HHS’ PREP Act guidance to allow pharmacists to administer the COVID-19 vaccines, the media have picked up on the valuable role of the independent pharmacy’s role in filling the gap, especially in supporting rural communities. Trade organizations and related media outlets are continuing to communicate the value of extending and expanding this – both for the consumer, as well as the industry.

The financial costs associated with investment in new technology can be expensive, but it’s a price you’ll have to pay to keep up with the pharmacy industry’s digital transformation.

Technology to Support Growth and Change

Smart retail pharmacies will increasingly invest in technological tools to improve customer service, minimize operational costs, and optimize product stock availability. For some independent pharmacies, adopting and implementing new technological offerings can be a struggle, especially when they don’t have access to the same large budgets as competing chain stores. But investing in the appropriate technology will help you optimize operations and reduce inefficiencies so that you ultimately generate more revenue.

Upgrades to consider include medical billing software to improve reimbursement for services, equipment, medications, and supplies offered to patients. Business intelligence tools can help you use patient and financial data to identify opportunities to improve patient health care and make better business decisions, while an updated IVR system can enable you to connect with more patients digitally while providing the same level of service as chain stores.

The financial costs associated with investment in new technology can be expensive, but it’s a price you’ll have to pay to keep up with the pharmacy industry’s digital transformation. To make sure your pharmacy is successful, you’ll need to create services and products that focus on patients’ needs and their growing expectations for a seamless customer experience. Consider analyzing your technological offerings to see where you can help your pharmacy grow some extra business.

Increased Offerings of Specialty Pharmacy

Once a small niche in the marketplace, specialty pharmacy is now a burgeoning industry with huge growth potential. Specialty drugs are developed mostly for chronic and degenerative diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and multiple sclerosis. Though typically complex to manage and store, difficult to administer, costly, and challenging for patients to take without clinical support, they make up the fastest growing, most expensive segment of pharmacy spending. These are gaining traction in the pharmacy industry – and the market is only expected to keep booming.

Patients Will Demand More Health Services

Due to the ongoing shortage of primary care physicians in the U.S., more and more patients are heading to their local pharmacist for services traditionally delivered by doctors. You can seize the opportunity to potentially increase your pharmacy’s profits and improve patient health outcomes by meeting customer demand and expanding your service offerings.

What does expansion look like for your pharmacy? There are many options, including point-of-care testing, which could include basic screening or monitoring for blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar levels. These services may be easier and more affordable for patients to access at your pharmacy than at their doctors offices, and may be a good bargain for you as well. You’ll need to check with your state and local guidelines for what is allowed. Prior to the pandemic, as reported by NCPA, point-of-care testing was predicted to exceed immunizations as a driver of revenue for community pharmacies. This may or may not still be true, but is likely to be a trend for the future.

Considering Options for Your Pharmacy

The best independent pharmacies assess the competitive marketplace, the potential trends and evaluate in light of their specific business and community. Look at what is happening and work with your trusted advisors to make decisions that are right for your independent pharmacy.

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