Pharmacy U

Patients = family? How to treat your patients as more than just customers


By Talbot Boggs

Photography by John Packman


In more than 30 years as a pharmacist, Mark Gayowski has maintained one guiding principle regardless of how much or how quickly the industry of pharmacy changes – always treat your patients like family.


“It’s amazing how so much of what we do and the services we offer ultimately are driven by our patients,” says Gayowski. “We try to be welcoming and open, and the rest just seems to evolve from there.”

Gayowski has created a strong community-based business focused on individualized service and care. His 7,000 sq. ft. Pharmasave pharmacy in Stoney Creek, Ont. is a hub of services geared toward making healthcare more accessible and convenient, offering such services as specialized compounding, flu immunizations, diabetes education and counselling, medication reviews, compliance packaging, and lifestyle consultations, an extensive range of home healthcare products, as well as access to related healthcare professionals such as occupational therapists and physicians with specialized training.

“We have made a huge effort to equip our store to handle as many of our customers’ health and pharmaceutical needs as possible,” Gayowski says. “We have become a home healthcare shopping destination offering standard products but also more specialized ostomy, lymphademic products, compression stockings, back and mobility aids and specialized personal consultations and assessments. We also do deliveries, and our staff members participate in community health fairs and expositions.”

Gayowski has made a point of engaging his customers, both in the pharmacy and in the community, and forging relationships with doctors and other healthcare professionals. He has set up information kiosks in his store which promote its many services. Staff members are on hand to explain products and services, and identify patients who could best benefit from them.

Special community services

Gayowski also makes a point of bringing in specialists to deliver presentations and educational seminars on health and lifestyle issues. He is planning on launching a social media advertising campaign to educate the community on his offerings.

“A lot of doctors now just fax patient prescriptions to us because of these services,” Gayowski explains. “The patients show up on our doorstep and we explain the medications to them. It’s often the first touch point we have with them and often results in their bringing other scripts to us and purchasing other products and services. You can try to create new relationships, but often they end up being customer driven.”

Gayowski is actively introducing new programs and services designed to further improve the amount and convenience of care available to the community. Once provincial legislation is in place he will implement a travel health program, including inoculations, in the pharmacy. He recently began offering a four-step weight-loss program that has become extremely popular with customers. As well, he is launching an electronic-care system that allows patients to see their medical profiles, order refills, book appointments, ask questions, get information and receive tax receipts for purchases, online on their computers and mobile devices.

The community-service-based pharmacy business model requires a total commitment from everyone involved. Gayowski’s pharmacy has several full-time and part-time pharmacists, registered technician students, part-time technicians, as well as frontshop and home healthcare managers.

While the new model is creating challenges, it is also creating great opportunities for pharmacies that are willing to embrace them. “The new model may be pushing some people out of their comfort zone, but it really is allowing us to spread our wings and bring our patients a wider range of healthcare products and services closer to their homes and where they work and play.”