HealthJanuary 30, 2024

Personalized care in pharmacies: Strategies start with health education content

As the local pharmacy footprint shrinks, pharmacy leaders can turn to consumer education content as an answer to challenging retail pharmacy trends in 2024.

Customers and health consumers everywhere expect more personalized care in pharmacies. Trends like rising rates of chronic disease, personalized medicine, and the lingering impact of a global pandemic have elevated the role of the retail pharmacist to an even more critical position in the continuum of care.

But as stores close and pharmacy workers navigate increasing levels of burnout, questions emerge—how do pharmacy leaders bridge the gap between customer needs and increasing constraints on resources and workers? Pharmacy leaders will find an accessible answer in consumer education that enables customers as partners in their own care.

Challenges impacting personalized care in pharmacies

Customer experience is a crucial to a retail pharmacy's success, but a shifting pharmacy landscape poses new challenges to meeting consumer demands.

Staffing shortages jeopardize consumer-centered care

Pharmacies are struggling to recover from the workload and staffing challenges that have defined the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Community Pharmacists Association reports that more than three out of every four community pharmacists struggle to fill open positions which can challenge convenience, customer experience, and even consumer safety.

Pharmacist burnout continues to shape the customer experience in pharmacies

Burnout in healthcare is acute among pharmacists, who report that their work now is more stressful than it was before the pandemic. Stressed pharmacists and pharmacy techs are less able to ensure safe medication dispensing and provide the levels of care and attention that customers increasingly expect.

Expectations of the pharmacy customer experience continue to rise

As much as retail pharmacies have been leaders in the consumer experience, customers now hold them to a high standard. Today’s health consumers increasingly expect high quality service, personalized care, and pharmacist support that’s flexible enough to meet their needs.

Closures continue to threaten the customer experience

The United States overall has seen a growing problem with “pharmacy deserts”—over 100 million people in the country do not have reliable access to pharmacies. Rite Aid closed out 2023 by shuttering 31 branches across the country, with closures heavily concentrated in areas like Pennsylvania.

Emerging retail pharmacy trends in 2024 can support clinicians

Pharmacy leaders around the world will need to engage more deeply with other stakeholders—taking a fresh look at technology and walking away from one-size-fits-all approaches to the customer experience and education. These emerging trends offer guidance and options in a time of growing pharmaceutical challenges.

Digital health integrations improve service delivery and increase worker capacity

Digital health is a key component of the customer experience and health education, especially in helping them understand the whys and hows of their medication.

Pharmaceutical access programs have been leveraging digital health technologies (DHTs) in their customer education and empowerment initiatives around noncommunicable diseases. These efforts have helped customers in low- and middle-income countries make more informed health decisions while also enhancing service delivery through telemedicine, telepathology, and capacity building of healthcare workers.

Automation helps relieve overload

Automation is one of the major retail pharmacy trends in 2024, largely because of its potential to free up pharmacists to take on higher value tasks.

Automating repetitive responsibilities means pharmacists and pharmacy techs can focus more on customer education, even while reducing the manual errors that jeopardize health outcomes.

Improving team-based care through expansion of the pharmacist’s role

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is calling on pharmacists to help increase immunization coverage access for Influenza, COVID-19, and RSV.

A 2023 survey revealed that nine in 10 prescribers and nearly all pharmacists believe that moving toward team-based care is very important in improving access for consumers.

How to tap into customer education in pharmacies

Pharmacies ready to adapt to a changing world will find opportunity in embracing a future-ready mindset—one that prioritizes consumer education fueled by technology that supports pharmacy efficiency, drives growth, and aligns with the retail pharmacy’s expanding role in healthcare.

Power your customer health education

Drug and health education in pharmacies should become a seamless part of pharmacy workflows—augmenting customer encounters and aligning with the services the pharmacy already offers. This requires that all members of the care team have easy access to educational material and the tools that help them facilitate education and access for their customers.

Tap into voice assistants

Voice assistant use has been growing steadily, and with the increasing use of smart devices (which are expected to gain 17 million users by 2027), they can be a powerful way to meet customers where they are and connect them with the same health education content your staff is using.

Look for opportunities to tap into omnichannel delivery options that include chatbots while also integrating into EHRs and customer portals.

Prioritize financial sustainability

Future-ready pharmacies view health education content as a tool to improve financial sustainability while supporting personalized care. This effort requires solutions that provide measurable outcomes, while connecting caregivers in a way that increases efficiency and drives down costs by sending information electronically instead of on paper.

With all the advances in consumer education, pharmacies across the country have a range of options available to them. Prioritize a solution flexible and robust enough to fit your current needs that can scale with your staff and care community into tomorrow.

Download the whitepaper, Creating a future-ready retail pharmacy: Challenges and opportunities

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Embedded drug data and clinical screening modules to support appropriate medication prescribing
Organizations use Medi-Span® drug data and clinical screening modules to support appropriate medication decisions, and to help reduce prescribing errors by optimizing alert systems.
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