By Michael Boivin BSc.Phm.
With the continually changing pharmacy environment, pharmacists are going to have to approach patients and actively market and sell their services. Pharmacist sales skills can dramatically increase the uptake of expanded services and demonstrate how these services address the underlying needs of their patients.
Sales is not a four-letter word.
Everything in healthcare is a business. All healthcare professionals are reimbursed for services or products delivered to their patients. Pharmacy is no different.
There is a common misconception that pharmacies that are successful businesses are poor at delivering patient care. The opposite is actually more commonly the case. Successful pharmacy practices typically develop effective patient-centred services and actively promote them to their patients. This dedication to their patients is leading to referrals and will continue to drive their businesses today and into the future.
Sales and patient-centred care are very similar
In the patient-centred care model, healthcare professionals adjust the delivery of healthcare services to meet the needs of their patients. With good sales skills, pharmacists can determine how current expanded services can be customized to address these needs.
For example, instead of promoting a medication review, it could be marketed to the patient as a service that could evaluate his or her current regimen, ensure that all medications are working effectively together, or offer a service to increase a patient’s understanding of medications. By constantly marketing and adjusting, pharmacists can ensure every service they provide addresses the underlying needs of their patients.
Start asking patients for payment for services
Many newly introduced expanded services lack funding from payers. Pharmacists will either be expected to provide the service for free or ask patients for payments. Although this may seem initially uncomfortable, fee-for-service is crucial to the long-term viability of pharmacy practice.
Every pharmacist is encouraged to look for different areas of their business where they can start asking patients for payment (e.g., blister packaging, delivery). By asking for payment for these services, you associate a value to them and prevent payers from saying they are part of the pharmacists’ dispensing fee.
Michael Boivin BSc.Phm. is a clinical pharmacist consultant, continuing education developer and president of CommPharm Consulting Inc. He has developed in excess of 250 accredited continuing education activities for pharmacists, family physicians, specialists and allied healthcare professionals.