Menu, please: Drug stores need to take a page from other retailers

December 28, 2016By Articles, Independent Pharmacy


By Dave Wendland for Drug Store News

November 28, 2016

If you recall from my most recent blog post, I’m writing about honoring one my father’s favorite pastimes – dreaming up ideas that haven’t been thought of yet. Focusing on retail pharmacy, I’m happy to share another of my mind meanderings.

There is no disagreement that pharmacists remain the most accessible, trusted healthcare professionals within the healthcare community. Yet many consumers (aka patients) don’t take full advantage of the professional services available. I believe it’s because these same consumers don’t know what they don’t know.

Here’s a short list of some of those services:

  • Compliance Tools – a way to help patients remember if and when medication has been taken
  • Flu Vaccinations – the convenient administration of annual flu vaccines (or other immunizations)
  • Medication Checkup – a review of prescription and non-prescription medications to ensure they are being taken correctly and not posing a potential contraindication
  • Compounding Prescriptions – for medications not commercially available in the dose or form prescribed, pharmacists may be able to mix small quantities of medications for patients
  • Smoking Cessation Support – in addition to recommending over-the-counter medications to help consumers quit smoking, pharmacists may offer specific pharmacy smoking cessation programs along with counseling and coaching
  • Clinical Education/Guidance – for more information about specific health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, pharmacies often conduct specialized clinic days that focus on education or risk assessment
  • Medication Delivery – convenient home delivery for those patients unable to pick up prescriptions
  • Auto-renewal/Synchronization – medication regimens for a chronic condition or longer-term treatment can benefit from synchronized refills to be delivered on a specific day of the month or establish auto renewals to encourage adherence
  • Prescription Substitution – if clinically appropriate, pharmacists may be able to change the dose, dosage form, frequency, or route of administration of a prescription to better meet a patient’s specific insurance coverage
  • Counseling services – pharmacists often offer advice and education about prescriptions, over-the-counter medications, natural health products, medical devices, and more

So, here’s the BIG idea. Virtually every other service-oriented retailer that I visit (auto repair shop, dry cleaner, chiropractic center, hair salon, etc.) posts their service offerings on some type of “menu board” with price ranges and/or special offers.

Why don’t we see such menu boards within retail pharmacy? One could argue that until somewhat recently, consumers did not feel empowered or overly-engaged with their healthcare. Today’s consumer has evolved rapidly and won’t know what retail pharmacies have to offer beyond prescription dispensing if nobody tells them.

Therefore, I would urge the pharmacy profession to take a page from other service-oriented businesses and start informing consumers what’s available – perhaps in the form of a menu.