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Patient experience must evolve

Patient demands are evolving. And with that, so must the patient experience we provide. It’s time we reassess where and how patients are receiving care. The exciting news? Local, community pharmacies continue to win patients with convenience, one-on-one quality care, and tailored programs and services. These are all vital in a post-pandemic environment. But there’s more to be done in today’s digital-driven marketplace. So, on that point, I challenge our pharmacy owners to rethink their overall patient engagement strategy.

The pandemic accelerated innovation and resourcefulness across the industry. To continue thriving, we need to take the lessons we’ve learned and match that with evolving patient demands. We cannot lose the momentum of the past year, and I believe the key to staying relevant is staying close to the patient. Here are two patient trends that pharmacy operators should consider in 2021:

Consumerization of Care

Today, patients expect fast, reliable and convenient service from health care providers as they do from any other business. Whether it’s UberEats or Amazon, they’re reaching for their phone to solve everyday problems. And with the consumer journey often beginning online, patients expect to find information about health services at their fingertips. They are no longer willing to wait weeks or months to see a provider, only to then be told their exam results will take even longer.

This trend has created a remarkable opportunity for pharmacy teams to capitalize on patient demands. We need to assess current operations and deploy patient-centric solutions to continuously improve convenience, speed and transparency of care. Patients want to Google “strep throat testing,” walk into your pharmacy to be tested and return home with any needed prescriptions — all in a timely manner. It is imperative for pharmacies to connect with patients at the beginning of their decision-making process and follow them through the care cycle. So, let’s make it easy for them.

Personalization of Care

While patients want the convenience and ease of digital interactions, personalized care is still the touchstone of their loyalty. According to a 2020 Deloitte survey, an “ideal” health care experience requires a personal touch, whether that encounter occurs virtually or in-person. Community pharmacists are well positioned to provide personalized care in their communities. Not only do they know your first name, they know your health history, your prescriptions and how might the supplements you grabbed from the shelf interfere with your medications. They know the whole family and have for generations in most cases. Their unhurried approach sets the precedent for friendly and knowledgeable support which strengthens loyalty.

These trends should not only cement our understanding of the role pharmacists play, but also energize us to think differently. We can no longer innovate solely within the four walls of our pharmacy. Brick-and-mortar pharmacies are absolutely necessary to the communities who rely on them, but the right digital solutions should both empower patients and bring them even closer to the pharmacy.

Pharmacy in the Patient’s Pocket

Your local pharmacy needs to be at a patient’s fingertips. The average U.S. adult spends nearly four hours a day on their phone. That’s roughly 50 days a year. Your pharmacy must have a mobile-friendly, HIPAA-compliant solution.

Together with PrescribeWellness, a Tabula Rasa HealthCare solution, we’re activating a new tool to bolster our customers with a modern and optimized platform called Health Mart Digital Pharmacy. The solution includes a Web- and app-based patient portal, dedicated marketing support to edit and create content, HIPAA-compliant two-way messaging, prescription refill reminders and essential alerts.

Double Down on Digital ­Presence

According to HubSpot, 88% of consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience. A dynamic and patient-centric Web experience can attract new patients, highlight a wealth of services and ultimately strengthen relationships.

When you combine the home-grown flavor of an independent pharmacy with a robust and intuitive website you’ll have a winning solution for your patients and your pharmacy.

The pharmacies that will be successful in the post-pandemic environment are the ones who embrace change.

Eyad Farah is president of Health Mart and Health Mart Atlas.

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