The old saying “nothing remains constant except change itself” must have been written by someone well-versed in the day-to-day operations of retail pharmacy.
By Gerry Spitzner
We must adapt and grow with every change we encounter. For me the pace of change is staggering. The nature of this business is changing so quickly that you need to be nimble and flexible. Focusing on the business of your practice is crucial to your professional and personal success.
Today, the change before us is that the healthcare industry is evolving and so too are the capabilities needed by pharmacists to practise to their fullest scope in a retail setting. Today’s market environment demands new competencies, including business acumen, data analytic skills, and broader interpersonal communication skills. Pharmacists must now navigate a dizzying array of technology, regulations, and shifting patient expectations.
What you do now can dictate whether you survive by choice or become a victim of circumstance.
Here are three strategic business-related questions to help you and your staff meet the changing needs of consumers, key stakeholders, healthcare providers and the communities you serve.
What are you a solution for?
From a marketing perspective: What business are you really in? For most people and payers, prescription drugs are an expense. And that won’t change anytime soon. If you see yourself as only a medication expert, you won’t make that important connection with your customers and patients as to why what you do matters to them. Consider that you really are in the business of helping people get better and the impact you have on them is that you help people manage all aspects of their health so they can then focus on everything else that’s important to them.
One purpose often missed is the need to bring people with a diagnosis back to their pre-diagnosis state, or as close to it as possible. What is your role in healthcare right now? The closer you get to the highest needs of your customer, the closer you get to customer intimacy, and customer intimacy equals customer dependency.
Why should a customer do business with you as opposed to someone else?
Even though you are highly trained, practise at your full scope, have great services and give worthwhile patient advice, you might think that patient-centricity is the key. Being patient-centred is not a strategy. It isn’t a marketing tactic or a line item on a budget. It isn’t a metric on a patient satisfaction survey. To be patient-centred, you need to recognize that this isn’t an ideology to implement just because “everybody else is doing it,” to look “aligned,” or to prevent being a “late adopter.”
Being truly patient-centred requires a cultural transformation and commitment to human-centred care. It requires building meaningful relationships within organizations, with key stakeholders and through the delivery of patient care. It starts with leadership. It starts with you. It starts with me. It is rooted in compassion. It recognizes empathy as an essential leadership skill. It’s being able to embrace human suffering and tackle it head-on in all your work. It means a commitment and an understanding by everyone in the organization to a human-centred purpose.
What makes your business stand out in a crowd? What is your competitive advantage?
There are so many within the healthcare ecosystem looking to “disrupt.” Disruption is often motivated by competition, the desire to be first in class, recognition, fame, and financial rewards. Disruption does not necessarily lead to universally accessible and implementable improvement. Disruption often drives advancement of a single company’s product/service or platform, not necessarily the advancement of human-centred patient care as a whole. Whether intentionally or not, “disruption” often leads to silo-management, exclusivity and additional barriers.
Healthcare needs enhancement and that means augmenting what exists. Enhancement begs for collaboration, sharing the spotlight in times of advancement and failure. Commitment to enhancement requires accepting that not every patient service advancement will yield the most lucrative of financial returns. Collaboration requires humility rather than fame or legacy. Do not mistake collaboration for weakness. Collaboration is powerful and fosters connectivity. Collaboration is key in today’s healthcare environment and always leads to progress of a greater scale in comparison to a single-entity.
Collaborate with all key stakeholders as often as possible. Broader perspectives always lead to better solutions. You can’t be successful in the world of innovation if you don’t collaborate. A consistent commitment to compassionate, collaborative purpose to enhance lives is a start.
How committed, aligned, and on-board are you with that?
Gerry helps companies and individuals develop marketplace strategies to build clients for life. A business operations and marketing advisor, he specializes in working with pharmacists and healthcare practitioners. To learn more about his approach, contact him at gerry@pharmacySOS.ca