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5 Ways To Increase Pharmacy Profit

Gwyn Williams
Dec 13, 2021 3:00:00 AM

Running a profitable pharmacy can be challenging, especially in the UK. While each country has its differences, there are some universal challenges.

With increasing competition from distance selling pharmacies (DSP) and the COVID-19 pandemic changing patient behaviour and expectations, many community pharmacies have struggled to run a financially viable business. As a result, according to NHS Digital data published in The Pharmaceutical Journal, there has been a net closure of 64 community pharmacies in England up to the end of August 2021. This is compared to a net closure of 136 pharmacies in the same time period in 2020.

If your pharmacy business is struggling to increase profit, try implementing MedAdvisor’s five tips in your pharmacy.

1. Reduce overhead costs by automating repeat prescription ordering

Reduce costs in your pharmacy by automating processes. One way you can do this is by encouraging your patients to use an app that allows them to order repeat prescriptions quickly and easily without your intervention. By doing this, you can release staff time and save costs. The MedAdvisor app simplifies repeat prescription ordering whilst improving patient communication and increasing loyalty to your pharmacy.

2. Use released staff time to drive pharmacy services

Using technology to automate routine processes can release time to provide pharmacy services. Many pharmacists understandably want to deliver more services to support patient health and wellbeing, but also simultaneously, generate enough income for the pharmacy to remain profitable.

Many pharmacies are looking at how they can provide innovative new services such as private Patient Group Directions (PGDs), online Doctor services and teleconsultations.

It is essential that each member of your pharmacy team is completing tasks that add value to the patient experience, and are remunerated through NHS or private funding, so you can ensure the long-term viability of your pharmacy.

3. Increase customer loyalty

Increasing customer loyalty is one of the most challenging but also most effective ways to guarantee stable revenue for your pharmacy business. When it comes to retaining customers, it’s essential to continuously evolve to meet patient needs.

Ensuring that your pharmacy is providing convenient, readily accessible services alongside adopting effective ways for patients to communicate electronically with pharmacy staff will help drive loyalty to your pharmacy.

It's important to recognise changes in patient expectations and change your offer accordingly.

There are several key drivers of customer choice for you to consider:

  1. Convenience: Some questions to consider include, how convenient are your services and are you able to improve them? Are you open when your customers want you to be? Can your customers communicate with you electronically or do they have to walk in or phone?
  2. Speed of service: A question to ask yourself is, what is your waiting time for walk-in customers with acute prescriptions?
  3. Items in stock: Some aspects to consider include, have you got the right stock at the right time to minimise owings? How good is your team at completing prescriptions first time, in full and could you improve? How do you use technology to help you make the right stockholding decisions?
  4. Quality of advice: Ask yourself, what level of support do you provide your patients to help them get the best treatment outcome? Do you provide additional guidance to improve adherence? Do you only provide verbal information, or do you also regularly signpost? Do you provide electronic resources to support your patients?
  5. Friendly and helpful staff: No doubt you've considered how your counter staff can provide helpful hints and tips to help your customers stay fit and well. But ask yourself, are there additional products or top tips that they could recommend to prevent health issues as well as treating them? What information can your counter staff provide to make the repeat prescription ordering process easier for your patients?
  6. Pharmacy services: Offering a wide range of quality services can influence patient choice of pharmacy. Have you recently considered what other services you could offer to retain existing, and attract new customers?

4. Increase medication adherence 

Non-adherence costs the NHS hundreds of millions of pounds each year, but because there are various reasons why patients don’t take medication the way it’s prescribed, there is no one blanket solution to address it. Some reasons why patients don’t adhere to their medication are being concerned about the medication’s side effects, they believe that they no longer need the medication, or because they felt the medication wasn't working. By building relationships with your customers to understand their individual motivation and beliefs about taking medication, you can help these patients adhere to their medication regime and ultimately, improve their health.

As a pharmacist, you have a great opportunity to help improve medication adherence and, therefore, health outcomes, but first you need to make the time to have these conversations. It’s also worth reflecting whether you may benefit from completing CPD on medication adherence, or improving your consultation skills using learning resources, such as CPPE.

You can also recommend technology to help patients remember when to take their medication, for example, by suggesting they use the MedAdvisor app. The use of MedAdvisor is proven to lead to increased medication adherence of around 20%. The improved adherence will result in increased NHS items and revenue for your pharmacy.

5. Manage stockholding of expensive lines

COVID-19 proved to be disruptive to the global supply chain as supply and demand became unstable for just about everything. Pharmacists felt the effects of this disruption as there were medication shortages across the UK.

With uncertainty around the supply of medication, an option to retain prescriptions is to increase stockholding to ensure you have stock available for your regular customers, as well as new walk-in customers.

This has an impact on cash flow so isn't a great idea for expensive, slow-moving lines. Actively managing high cost, slow-moving lines allows you to minimise out-of-date stock and dispense prescriptions in full.

Whilst many PMRs help facilitate this review, it's helpful to have sight of patient orders being submitted to GP surgeries to allow you to order stock "just in time.”

The MedAdvisor app provides visibility so you can order the full amount of stock, so it arrives on the day you receive the prescription via EPS. This can help your cash flow and reduce your losses from out-of-date stock.

How technology benefits both pharmacies and patients

Adopting technology, such as a repeat prescriptions app in your pharmacy can bring significant benefits to you as an owner and your customers. However, implementing an app isn’t the only form of technology that could benefit both parties.

From in-home DNA Testing Kits to SAD lights, technology in the pharmaceutical industry has come a long way. As technology continues to improve, pharmacy owners need to adapt and ensure their business model evolves to meet patient expectations. Efficiency savings associated with improved technology and new ways of working will make it increasingly hard to remain profitable if your pharmacy isn’t embracing new technology and innovation.

Implementing any of the strategies and innovations mentioned in this article could help make your pharmacy more profitable in the coming years, as it’s important to not only consider your pharmacy’s current profitability, but how you can keep up to date with new innovations in the long term.

Technology has the power to transform the pharmacy experience for patients and pharmacy teams. Pharmacy in 2030 will look very different to today. There's no better day than today to start thinking about how you'll transform your business to increase your profit over the coming years.

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