Words vs Message: Communicating With Patients More Effectively

Total Pharmacy JournalTotal Pharmacy September 2023
Volume 1
Issue 4

In the pharmacy field, customers are not often knowledgeable about the specifics of the products they are purchasing. How can your pharmacy make sure customers get exactly what they need?

With all the responsibilities that come with maintaining a pharmacy, it’s easy to forget the customer-facing aspect of the business—but clear communication with customers and a good customer experience is just as important in pharmacy as in any other business, said Patti Mara during the session “Empowering Technicians: Unlocking Purposeful Impact In Your Pharmacy” at the DiversifyRx Pharmacy Profit Summit 2023 in Dallas, Texas1.

Mara explained that, like any other business, customers in pharmacies want to be informed about the products they are receiving—and in a business where their health is paramount, they are understandably more invested. “They want all the details,” said Mara.“Of course they want to ask questions and get all the information possible…. [But] if patients aren’t as detail-oriented, they might neglect to ask some details.”

And unlike many other businesses, said Mara, much of the information of pharmacies—specific information about prescriptions and products—is not common knowledge for most people. “They need to know what you recommend, because you know things that they don’t have a clue about.… Your role is to educate and offer [a product],” she said.

That education and advice can come in many forms. “Maybe [a customer] is taking an antibiotic and they should be taking a probiotic,” she said. In that case, making sure the customer has the prescription to treat them most effectively should be a top priority in your pharmacy.

Mara continued by encouraging pharmacy employees to make sure that patients have all the supplies and products they may need to be at full health. “A young mother comes in with a baby and is in a rush to get prescriptions filled, what else might she need?” She asked. From acetaminophen to ibuprofen to hydration retention solutions like Pedialyte to a thermometer, pharmacies offer so many products that new mothers should keep around the house for good measure.

She also discussed “winning mindsets,” and listed multiple mindsets that will allow your pharmacy to connect with patients more thoroughly. One of those mindsets was making sure to ask the question, “Why do patients choose my pharmacy?” The difference between a local pharmacy and the big chain pharmacies is the strength of interaction. “You're taking care of them, providing intimate interactions, [so] they feel connected, [and] they feel helped.”

But providing those interactions is only useful if your pharmacy team has the wisdom and experience to actually assist a customer, Mara said. So having a team that is versatile, knowledgeable, and knows how to communicate the benefits and potential downsides of all products is extremely important.

Sometimes, the most necessary change in your pharmacy is so simple that you may overlook it. “Take something as simple as [finding a] meditation. If [the customer] can't find it, and you're getting that same question multiple times a week, it might be your signage. You should change your signage so that it’s easier for your customers [to find products they need].”

To wrap up, Mara touched on the difference between “on-brand” and “off brand.”

“On-brand is everything that your customer experiences that reinforces the value of the product,” she said. Staying on brand, then, is essential to your pharmacy’s reputation and the interactions you will have with customers. 

Mara P. Empowering Technicians: Unlocking Purposeful Impact In Your Pharmacy. Presented at:DiversifyRx Pharmacy Profit Summit; Dallas, Texas; August 4-5, 2023.
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