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Pharmacy U Vancouver keynote: When you listen & learn, you win

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By taking time to understand the real needs of patients and then matching services to those needs, pharmacists can actually save time and deliver better patient-centred service and care.

By Lawrence Herzog

In their keynote address at Pharmacy U Vancouver, business development specialist Kenny Solway and clinical pharmacist consultant and continuing educator author and planner Michael Boivin encouraged delegates to connect with their patients, improve their calibre of service and grow their business.

“Selling is not something you do to someone, it’s something you do for someone,” Boivin said. Focused selling techniques can help differentiate one pharmacy from another and build repeat business. They add value for the patients, and encourage loyalty and satisfaction with the service they are receiving from their pharmacy.

“Effective patient interactions start with a series of three questions of what, which and why,” Solway explained. “Ask your patients what the top three things are that are important. Then ask which of those three is most important. Then why that one is most important.”

Successful pharmacists are knowledgeable, passionate, and authentic. They listen well, personalize their responses and communicate well with their patients with clear language and recommendations. Making more time to meaningfully engage with patients and empathetically listen to what they say is time-effective, Solway said. “It’s common sense but it’s not common practice because we are all squeezed for time. But the reward for doing it is substantial.”

Fear of rejection can sometimes lead to reluctance to make product suggestions, but rejection is common and doesn’t mean the interaction isn’t working. “You’re very successful if you fail half the time,” Boivin noted.

Not everybody will be ready to agree to suggestions right away. Some will want more information, and some will be resistant to change. “The key challenge is to move on from any rejection and understand that not everybody will agree with your recommendations,” Solway said.

If you do a medication review, ask your patient, ‘What is your number one health issue, what is the thing I can help you with today?’ By doing so, pharmacists become more time-effective and have a more patient-focused medication review process.

Pharmacy teams that engage at this dedicated level provide higher quality service and meet patient needs more often, Solway added. “Expand the approach to your entire team, and it will bring you closer to the goal of a profitable pharmacy that offers optimal patient-centred care.”