Independent pharmacies moving away from traditional pharmacy models are finding success by embracing an approach that focuses more on wellness.Three pharmacists shared their unique approaches to creating healthcare destinations in their communities during a recent session at the NCPA Annual Convention held in Washington D.C. in October.
See also: What can a business coach do for your pharmacy?
Steve FettmanSteve Fettman, RPh, whose family has owned Davies Pharmacy in Canton, Ohio, for 53 years, wanted to make his pharmacy known for its expertise in health and wellness. He made some changes not only to provide better patient care but also to keep his business competitive in an area surrounded by other pharmacies.
See also: Village of Mingo Junction is healthcare destination
He began by removing the greeting cards and candy (“poor sellers”) from his 8,000-square-foot store and expanding the aisles to provide more depth for the most profitable front-end items. The store focuses on post-mastectomy services, diabetic shoes, mobility aids, bathroom-safety supplies, wound care, compression stockings, and ostomy supplies.
Next, Fettman installed a "healthcare solutions" center, where customers can sit down and speak with staff members trained to measure compression hose, assist with braces, and advise about wound care.
"Compression hose is really a very profitable department for us because it's something we see a lot of past customers for," he said.
His latest remodel included the addition of a fitting room where customers could try out post-mastectomy supplies.
The store enlisted the help of a retired pharmaceutical sales representative to help market its expanded services to doctors and healthcare professionals.
With 11,000 square feet and 32 different end caps, space isn't an issue for Jack Dunn, RPh, owner of Jasper Drug in Jasper, Ga. But how to best use that space to position Jasper Drug as a healthcare destination took careful consideration and planning.
After noticing that customers were entering and exiting his store by the same path without ever shopping his store, he decided to remove some of the clutter and open the space so that traffic could flow properly throughout the store. He added two private consultation areas and an education center, where the store holds at least two diabetic clinics each month, nutrition counseling and other health-focused outreach efforts.
His store sells high-end vitamins and probiotics, compression hose, and braces. The braces don't just sit on the shelf, said Dunn; he and his team actively market them to customers. Staff are trained how to properly fit the braces, and Dunn markets his services to area doctors as well.
"The doctors sends them to my store because they know they are going to get taken care of. They are going to see me or members of my staff who know what this product does," he said.
Throughout the store, Dunn used extra end-cap space to create signs advertising pharmacy services and rotates them regularly. The extra promotion has helped him double his compounding sales, he said.
While space might not have been a significant concern at Jasper Drug, it is a consideration for the 2,600-square-foot Dilworth Drug and Wellness Center in Charlotte, N.C. Owner Josh Rimany, RPh, has transformed the store, which now includes a lab, two clinic spaces, and an office, into an integrative pharmacy that combines traditional pharmacy and complementary alternative practices.
Directly across from the customer waiting area, Rimany has stocked high-end nutritional vitamins and supplements, which have become a focus for the store.
"You have to start somewhere, and with me it started around nutrition and morphed into compounding, consultations around BHRT [bioidentical hormone replacement therapy], clinical nutrition, and MTM," he said.
One of the easiest ways to make your store a healthcare destination, he said, is to understand the quality control behind nutrition and to become expert in drug-induced nutrient depletions. For patients seeking information and recommendations about vitamins that will counteract those effects, pharmacies are the obvious choice.
While each pharmacy found its own path to revitalizing its identity in the community, ultimately all three had the same goal.
"We all did something different, but we all created that concept. People see us as a healthcare destination, not a convenience," Rimany said.
Jill Sederstrom is a freelance writer based in Kansas City.