A successful Travel Clinic is one of the most profitable private services for Community Pharmacies. But how is success achieved? How are those profits unlocked? Let’s go through the Top 5 ways any community pharmacy can boost their Travel Clinic bookings.

Is running a Travel Clinic worth it?

By now, most pharmacists in the UK understand the opportunity of Travel Clinics. But that’s the drawback for a lot of people. “Everyone’s doing it,” you think. It’s not worth doing when it’s so competitive, right?

Wrong.

Making your Travel Clinic successful

Despite the fact that a lot of pharmacies now run Travel Clinics, unless your local competitor happens to be dominating the space, it’s absolutely worth your pharmacy running one too. Even if they are dominating the space, it’s likely because there is no competition.

1. A Travel Clinic Website

Travel Clinics have huge revenue potential. Some of our clients make enough money from their Travel Clinic alone, it is its own business. Any successful Travel Clinic should have its own website. Just in the same way that Argos is owned by Sainsbury’s. You’ll often find Argos stores within Sainsbury’s stores, and yet the websites are kept completely separate.

Why?

Because they’re two separate businesses, with different services and products on offer, trying to jam everything into one website dilutes the message and dilutes the brand.

Some of main benefits of a separate Travel Clinic website:

  • A more intuitive patient journey with specific online booking calendars
  • Doesn’t confuse your pharmacy website
  • Focused Travel Clinic content

Whilst there are people who prefer buying struggling businesses and turning them around, most buyers want a healthy business. The majority of bets in a horse race are on the favourite. And higher profit margins equals a higher purchase price.

Google Adverts for your Travel Clinic

What do you do when you know what you need but you don’t know where to get it? It certainly isn’t flicking through the yellow pages anymore. You do what everyone does. You Google it.

I’ve heard people judge Google Ads before they’ve tried it. “I don’t click on ads,” they said. They presupposed that because they didn’t click on Ads, nobody does.

Do people click on ads?

The reality is, people do. Without getting too bogged down with the hows and the wherefores, most searches don’t have commercial intent. Around 93% of searches on Google are either informational or navigational, according to a survey. And those people do not click on adverts, in general. Of course they don’t. If you’re looking up how to cook fish, it’s unlikely you’re clicking on an advert selling fish, no matter how low the low prices are. Because if you’re looking up how to cook it, the chances are you already have the fish.

But if you’re searching for cheap fish, then the odds of you clicking that ad leap like a salmon.

A 2021 study carried out by GroupM UK and Nielsen reported that 94% of total search engine clicks go to organic results, with just 6% of click share left for paid search ads.

The stats for searches with commercial intent (7%) matching up with the overall click share of searches being (6%) shows that, contrary to popular opinion, searches with commercial intent do get clicks. Which is great, because those are the clicks you’re after. Paying for people to click on your ad when they aren’t booking an appointment is a waste of money.

2. Google Maps Ads

Google Maps advertising is a recent addition to the marketing arsenal available to pharmacies. Just in the same way you would advertise anywhere else, Google Maps advertises…well, in Google Maps. When people search on Google Maps for “Travel Vaccines”, “Travel Clinic” and other related searches, that is a HUGE signal of intent. You don’t ask generally for directions unless you’re on the way.

Appearing at the top of the results on Google Maps is a great way of increasing walk-ins for your Travel Clinic. And because it’s new, there isn’t a lot of competition on the platform.

3. Google Search Ads

If you want any proof that Google Search Ads work, you only need look at who’s currently running them in your area when you Google “Travel Clinic”. More often than not, it’s the big boys.

I can’t compete with them,” you say. The reason the top results on Google win is convenience. Shopping around takes time. But community pharmacies win at convenience. The likelihood is that people will pick the option closest to them, and that’s you. (For example, my nearest Clinic by clicking on a big supplier was in a neighbouring town, over 30 minutes drive away.) If there was a rivalling community pharmacy with an option close to the top on Google, I’d 100% go there instead.

Search Engines – Get found for “Travel Clinic” in your area

A common misunderstanding with websites is that just having one is enough. Without understanding the intricacies of the Internet, it’s a fair assumption. But having a website is just like having a pharmacy. If it isn’t listed on the map, how can people find it?

How do search engines work?

Search Engines like Google help Internet users navigate the world wide web. You almost certainly know that already. Like you know that when you put your foot down on the accelerator, your car goes forward. And you can know that, but not understand how the engine works. The same is true for how Search Engines work. You understand what they do, but not how they work.

Every website is designed, just like every car is assembled. But just like a Mini Metro is built differently to a Ferrari Enzo, website design varies too.

Search Engines regularly run what are essentially MOT’s across all websites, assessing them for suitability for users.

4. Optimising your Website for Search Engines

Optimising your Website for Search Engines is like letting an engineer fine-tune your car before it goes in for its MOT. Without it, you probably won’t check all the boxes, and you’ll be ranked lower. With it, you’ll tick every box and have a much higher chance of ranking amongst the top results on Google.

5. Optimised Travel Clinic Content helps your website get found

Search engines will only point people in the direction of your website if it thinks your website has what they’re looking for.

How do the search engines know if your website has what they’re looking for? You write content for it.

For instance, if you want to be found for Yellow Fever Vaccines? Create a page specifically for Yellow Fever. Answer some FAQ’s and away you go.

Want to learn more about how content on your website can help drive footfall into your pharmacy? Check out Why every Community Pharmacy should be Blogging.

Read our Complete Guide to Winning Google for…a Complete Guide to Winning Google. It breaks down SEO, how people use Google and how combining the knowledge of those two things gets your pharmacy higher up that results page.

Combining these three tactics is a winner

How do we know? Every Travel Clinic we’ve helped market using all three of these tactics in their strategy is a successful business.  (Website/Ads/SEO).

Want Pharmacy Mentor’s help with your own Travel Clinic marketing? Book in a call for a chat with our Pharmacy Growth Specialists.

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There are lots of guides for all the processes and procedures of selling your pharmacy. This is not one of them. In this guide, we’ll focus entirely on how digitisation can raise your sale price.

Selling Your Pharmacy 101

When it comes to selling your pharmacy, you obviously want the best price possible. But for every person selling a pharmacy, there’s someone buying. They want the best price too. So how do you go about convincing that buyer to spend more money on your pharmacy business?

It starts by thinking like a buyer.

Do pharmacy buyers know how valuable their digital asset is worth?

What do buyers want when buying a pharmacy?

Some of the main considerations when purchasing a pharmacy are:

  • How profitable the business is
  • Whether revenue is trending up or down
  • The potential for growing the business
  • Spotting opportunities to save money where the existing business doesn’t
  • The volume and mix of prescriptions
  • The categorical mix of the pharmacy’s patients, e.g. clinical, prescription, retail
  • Status of contracts

But the main considerations we’ll explore in this article are the ones we’ve highlighted.

Whilst there are people who prefer buying struggling businesses and turning them around, most buyers want a healthy business. The majority of bets in a horse race are on the favourite. And higher profit margins equals a higher purchase price.

Stable. Replicable. Predictable.

But here’s the rub. What buyers really value is continuity in those high profits. The continuation of that upwards revenue trend. It’s great that you’re generating all those profits. But if you leave the business? Taking your extensive local knowledge, partnerships you’ve developed over years, and the understanding of your pharmacy team with you? Where’s the assurance that the healthy business they’ve bought won’t fall down around their ears?

What they want, with a healthy business, is business as usual. Stability in transition. Predictability for the future, which means replicable business practice. Savvy pharmacy buyers will poke holes in valuations that don’t have these characteristics, driving down the price. So in this instance, digitisation doesn’t necessarily raise the price of your pharmacy, but it does prevent it from being driven down.

The more systemised, the more automated, the more robust processes in place, the better. Digitisation is a major component in all three.

How do digital systems increase the value of your pharmacy?

Well, in the purest form, digital systems, (e.g. websites) are an asset. If your pharmacy is worth £980,000 and you spend £20k on a website, now your pharmacy is worth £1m. So if you’re planning on selling your pharmacy, a website is a reasonably risk-free investment, as you can build it into the value of your business.

Naturally, that only works if you own the website. Website rental software, the type you pay for year-on-year, doesn’t belong to you, nor does any data contained within it. Therefore, you cannot build it into the value of your business.

Another way digital systems increase the value of your pharmacy, is the opportunity for revenue growth, especially in the future.

An existing marketing list, a website where several of your services get found on Google, an engaged audience on Social Media…these are all things that take time to cultivate. And time = money. Especially time well spent.

Since pharmacy sales usually take a while to go through, provided you haven’t even begun the process yet, you’ve still got plenty of time to digitise your pharmacy.

Why ignoring data is a disaster

For a start, let’s make one thing clear. Data is the most valuable commodity in the world. That’s why companies like Google, Amazon and Meta are so big.

There are three important questions to answer before you can assuredly include data into the valuation of your business.

What data does your pharmacy business own? (Important distinction which I will clarify later)

How does your pharmacy collect data?

What does your pharmacy do with the data?

How valuable data appears throughout your Digital Ecosystem

  • A proper website provides digital infrastructure which both harvests and utilises useful data for your pharmacy business
  • A healthy social media presence helps transition a change of management with the pharmacy’s existing community
  • Email Marketing Lists retarget existing pharmacy users and drive repeat business
  • EPOS systems with key consumer insights both in-store and via eCommerce help with retail sales and promotions
  • Paid advertising accounts with data on previous campaigns aid future campaigns

There are always due diligence processes during the purchase of a pharmacy, ensuring a pharmacy is as it claims in the listing. Data is concrete. It can’t be questioned.

Google Analytics for Your Website

Let’s say you’re top of Google, and you get 1,000 clicks per month on that page. With a quick calculation on Google Ads, you can understand how much each click is worth for the keyword you’re ranking for.

If it costs £1/click for you to appear on Ads for “Yellow Fever Vaccine” and you’re getting 1k clicks per month? That’s £1k/month you can incorporate into the value of your business.

But you cannot do that without having the data. You cannot have that data without having a website. And this is why digitisation built into your business is a really quick way to increase the value of your business.

Don’t own your website? You don’t own the data within it either.

In the same way that if you owned a fleet of vans, you can incorporate the assets into the value of a business, but you can’t if they’re rentals, you can’t incorporate either a website or its data into your business valuation if you don’t own them.

Want some other quick ways to increase the value of your pharmacy?

A good yardstick for measuring the progress of your pharmacy by taking The Perfect Pharmacy Scorecard. 30 questions. 5 minutes. Tailored report, with advice for improvement in each area depending on how you score. Then a 5-day email action-plan diving into more detail on each major area of a pharmacy business (non-clinical).

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How much should pharmacies spend on marketing?
How much should you spend on marketing your pharmacy? It’s a question we get a lot. With a few things to consider, this article gives some insight into our experience with client budgets and success rates.

How to get comfortable with your marketing budget

Spending money marketing your pharmacy is no longer optional. Nowadays, if you’re not marketing your pharmacy, even your existing patients are at risk of being poached by either online pharmacies or local pharmacies who are marketing. But it’s important to know your pharmacy marketing spend.

When it comes to your pharmacy revenue, it’s natural to want more. More patients. More profit.

But when it comes to marketing spend for your pharmacy? Suddenly you’ll feel an overwhelming urge to want less. Less agency fees. Less advertising budget.

And that’s understandable. You don’t want to pay any more than you should, but you recognise that speculating and accumulating often correlate. The balance of what you’ll end up paying usually lies somewhere between the two.

Know when to say no

Unless a pharmacy is prepared to be marketed, piling loads of money into a marketing campaign is wasteful. Just because you want something to happen, doesn’t mean it will.

More budget does not necessarily equal more sales (though of course, in the right circumstances it can). This is simply a word of caution against flawed marketing. Many people have been burnt by either inefficient, incompetent, or inept marketing at some point in their past.

Make sure whoever’s responsible for your marketing has a good track record, or knows your industry or business incredibly well. Preferably both. Not everything in marketing works all of the time, but controlling the parameters is important so nothing ever gets out of hand.

Pharmacy Mentor is proactive with this, working with our clients to understand how the strategy is impacting their business, and changing the tactics if needed.

Marketing Budget as a % of Revenue

how much should you spend on marketing your pharmacy? this graph shows a range of figures from different industries, where healthcare, which is the relevant industry to pharmacy, shows 10% of total revenue should be spent on marketing.

Source: The CMO Survey & Deloitte Digital

What needs bearing in mind with this statistic is that whilst 10% of an average community pharmacy turnover (between 50k-100k/month) seems like a lot of marketing spend, (£5k-10k/month) this figure incorporates things like wages or agency fees, as well as the time you spend on research, recruitment, and training, which ultimately has a monetary value.

One of the benefits of using an independent community pharmacy marketing agency like Pharmacy Mentor, is that you’re already saving on the cost of hiring and training an employee.

R.O.I. (Return on investment)

This is understandably at the forefront of pharmacy business owners’ minds. You want the most bang for your proverbial buck. Income must be balanced with outgoings, after all. Typically the way people think about this is “how many patients are going to come into my pharmacy as a result of this marketing action?”

That obviously would generate a good figure in your head of what you’d like to spend. If you stand to make £1k from a marketing action, then naturally you’d spend £500 on it. And whilst that’s certainly a measure, the issue is a little more nuanced. How do you know what you stand to make, for instance? This is where the reliable agency comes into play. It’s why an agency specialising in an industry is ideal. Because you have to rely on experience to know what’s possible, to understand what you’re likely to get. And therefore, what the right amount to invest is.

Visible R.O.I.

Sales and leads are an essential part of any business, and so this is naturally something you’ll want to see as a result of your marketing. Digital marketing is amazing for tracking and analysing stats, so provided you get your analytical tools set up, measuring the effectiveness of your spending is available from the first visitor to your website to the last person to click on a Facebook Ad. Measuring how many people it takes to see your advert before you get a conversion into a sale helps you understand how much budget you need to put into an advert, for instance.

But what about websites? It’s baffling that people would spend more on a billboard advertisement than they would on their website. An advert may cost you £500 for one month and get 10,000 eyeballs on it. Your website will last a minimum of 5 years, and if it’s done right, will attract hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of visitors over the course of this time. And people don’t want to spend over £1,000 on this? A good website, and search engine optimisation which helps people find it through Search Engines like Google, are the most cost-effective investments you can make. Trying to cut corners and reducing your marketing budget on areas like this hamstrings your business’s potential for growth.

Invisible R.O.I.

The invisible R.O.I. is hard to measure, for obvious reasons. But it does exist. And sometimes it can be the most powerful return from your marketing.

If I asked you to name a brand of sportswear, you’d probably immediately think of Nike, or Adidas. This is because they’ve marketed so relentlessly and consistently that they’re the first thing that comes to mind. Now, you might not race out to buy their trainers when you see their adverts, but the fact you remember them is the invisible ROI I’m talking about.

And this is something that directly correlates with your marketing budget. What price would you put on being the first place people thought of when they need healthcare, be it a service or a retail product? That figure may be hard to quantify, but it’s certainly worth bearing in mind when you’re considering how much to invest in advertising. It’s also a consideration when thinking about your branding budget, which is a much ignored, yet important part of marketing.

For a local business, you might only ever be able to get to the forefront of your local community’s minds, but that does require significantly less spend than a national campaign. You can also lean heavily on your personal branding, and the fact that your local community will recognise your face online. For bigger businesses, or online pharmacies, it’s far more important that your branding stands out, because that’s how people both recognise and remember you.

Diminishing returns in pharmacy marketing

The law of diminishing returns certainly applies to marketing to your local community.

How are websites like wine? Read below.

Turning Websites into Wine

To continue with the example of websites, it’s a bit like a bottle of wine. You don’t want to buy a really cheap one, because you won’t like it, and you might as well not have bothered. It’s a complete waste of money.

You can also overspend. No matter how much money you put into it, there is only so good a bottle of wine can get.

The happy medium, where you spend £7-15, you’ll probably find a perfectly good bottle of wine that does the job.

It’s pretty much the same with websites. The average community pharmacy should be spending between £4-10k on a website, depending on their current need. Only much bigger businesses should be spending more than that. Any less than that, and you’re looking at something which probably isn’t worth the money you’re investing into it.

Services

Let’s say you’re advertising a Flu Vaccine Clinic. There is only a certain amount of people that will come to your pharmacy for the jab. Obviously, if all of those people have signed up for their jab, you wouldn’t want to continue to push your ad out and spend extra budget. But what’s slightly less obvious is the point where your spend stops being as efficient. This is all about measuring and analysing. Over the course of a few months, you can tell where the optimal level of budget is for that service, and adjust your budget accordingly, in that instance, for the next flu season.

eCommerce

Products, on the other hand, provided you are able to ship nationally, have a much higher ceiling for saturating your market. If all people have to do to buy from you is tap a button on their phone, then it doesn’t matter if they’re in Gretna Green or Greenwich. You can spend a lot more on marketing eCommerce before it stops being effective. Of course, you need to have an effective eCommerce website to be worth spending money on sending people to it. Check out our guide on creating a successful eCommerce website here.

So how much should I budget for my pharmacy marketing?

The devil is absolutely in the details here, and it definitely does differ from pharmacy to pharmacy depending on what your objectives are.

Newer pharmacies, or pharmacies that haven’t previously had a digital presence, should be spending more on brand awareness, specifically in your local community. This will typically skew your budget towards things like SEO & Social Media. But once you’ve established yourselves as a brand online, it’s time to focus on converting that awareness into business.

At that point, you’ll want to heavily invest in a digital ecosystem. Central to this system is an awesome pharmacy website, allowing clinical bookings, EPS nomination, data collection, online payments and attracting patients from search engines with great SEO content. You’ll also want to invest in email marketing, which helps retain your patients and drives more revenue from people who’ve already used your business.

All these things are part of a wider strategy. Some elements that might be less costly are still important. Just like the tyres on a car don’t cost as much as the engine, but you can’t run a car without them. It’s important that you invest in a whole strategy.

It’s also worth bearing in mind, that a website is an investment you only need every 5-10 years. Divide your total spend by between 60-120 to find your monthly spend depending on how many years you expect the website will last.

Marketing spend for Quickly Growing Your Pharmacy Business

After noticeable growth in your business, in either your prescriptions or clinical arms? For example, if you’re starting a new private clinic, a spend of around 6-10% of your monthly revenue is normal. 

Marketing spend for Maintaining the Growth of Your Pharmacy Business

If you’re feeling the pinch with the competition and you’re looking at preventing any drop-off, and maintaining your churn rate, you’re looking at less investment. Nevertheless, you still need to invest between 2-5% of your monthly revenue, which is usually enough for keeping your business healthy.

Spending Less on your Pharmacy Marketing?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that cutting your expenses is a good thing. It’s only good if you’re still getting the same returns. Marketing is an investment in growing your business. If you’re spending below the figures we’re talking about, the likelihood is that you’re missing out on business. Your pharmacy will suffer in the long run as a result of these budget cuts.

Want to get real specific?

Without talking to you about your specific services and business objectives, there’s no way we can be more specific than giving you a general idea of the budget you should commit to marketing.

Talking to our Pharmacy Growth Consultants is a great next step if you’re looking to make better use of your marketing budget.

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artifical intelligence in pharmacy
With massive advances in recent years, AI in pharmacy isn’t far away. And the changes AI will bring to pharmacy promise to be massive.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence is another term for machine learning. It traces its roots back to World War 2. Alan Turing, a renowned logician, was recruited to break the German military’s Enigma Code – a process that could not have been achieved by humans. The machines (called Bombes) learned what to do, effectively by learning what not to do, using laws of logic. Similarly, machines are now more than a match for humans at Chess, demonstrating that when it comes to logic, the human brain has limitations that machine learning does not.

Whilst the application of AI has advanced significantly since then, the core concept of how it works is pretty much identical. Humans use available information as well as reason in order to solve problems and make decisions, so why can’t machines do the same thing?

The limitation has always been the amount of information that computers can store. But increasingly, with storage (where the AI stores its knowledge) and the data sets (from which AI can learn) both massively increasing over the decades, this limitation is a thing of the past.

AI is inextricably linked to Big Data, which is just as important, if not moreso, as the data is what gives the AI the information to learn. There’s no point in having a big brain if you never learn anything. Arguably, AI is worthless without the data to learn from, whereas we’d at least be able to interpret Big Data in a limited capacity with our soft, human brains.

word cloud featuring pharmacy, data, ai, pharmacist and other associated words

How does AI impact Pharmacy right now?

The frontline of pharmacy is probably yet to feel the full force of the impact AI is making on the wider Pharmaceutical Industry. Whilst facial recognition and speech pattern monitors can be used to detect rare diseases, it isn’t like these systems are in operation in community pharmacies.

Something that is more accessible is compliance technology. though perhaps not in the guise that it’s needed quite yet.

Another accessible option for pharmacies is artificial intelligence Sentiment Analysers, which are in a trial phases of a rollout for things like phone calls.

Sentiment analysers

Sentiment analysers are artificial intelligence programmes that analyse speech & voice patterns and detect in real-time how the person on the other end of the phone is feeling. If you’ve ever used Grammarly, and it’s shown you how your writing might come across to your readers, that is sentiment analysis at work.

Now, you might think it’s obvious when someone is angry at you on the phone. And it is. But over the course of hundreds of phone calls, seeing the analysis of the trigger words which cause this anger, as well as the words used to calm people, might well give you insights leading to more effective phone conversations. Not only for you, but your entire team. This is the sort of insight that it’s almost impossible to analyse when we’re the ones holding the phone conversations, as we’re usually focused on what we’re doing, rather than analysing ourselves.

How can AI impact Pharmacy in the future?

The limit to this question will be found in the limitation of the human imagination. Pointed in the right direction, and given the right data, there aren’t many areas that AI can’t improve.

  • Drug development & efficacy (both linked to genetics)
  • Patient compliance
  • More data informed patient health & proactive interventions
  • Risk assessment & Fraud reduction
  • Driverless Delivery
  • Sentiment Analysers
  • More efficient clinical trials

Not all of these directly impact pharmacy, but pharmacy feels the ripple effects of the shock waves in healthcare.

These are the areas that AI can impact pharmacy. But let’s look in more detail at some of the areas where AI almost certainly will impact Pharmacy in the future.

Driverless Delivery

Driverless cars across all roads are still decades away, say experts in the field of AI. But the rollout of smaller, driverless delivery vans like the type that deliver Domino’s Pizza are on the horizon.

Depending on your model, your preferences and your priorities, you might reject this idea.

“I like my delivery driver and they have a great relationship with the patients,” you say. I think that there’s definitely a big argument for retaining the service of a delivery driver. Especially considering serving an elderly population who aren’t tech savvy. They aren’t going to want to start messing around with PINs sent by text and entering it into the van. And there’s also a strong argument for the social contact that delivery drivers give isolated patients being a part of the service to the community.

However, there is a credible argument for utilising both driverless and driver…ful vans. Just like the Pharmaself24 works alongside your counter staff, the driverless delivery van could be a great addition to your arsenal. It gives a green option to a more tech-savvy, environmentally conscious generation. And a more convenient option to those who don’t need social contact from the delivery driver.

From the perspective of a pharmacy business owner, it’s another case of automation making fiscal sense. Why pay for another delivery driver and a van, when you can just pay once for a driverless van? That isn’t necessarily a rhetorical question, but it’s certainly one you’d consider from a business perspective.

Monitoring Patient Behaviours

AI can revolutionise healthcare, not just pharmacy.

It would rely on some sort of large shared database, as machines, like humans, can only learn from information they have access to. But coupled with Big Data from health apps, medical records and other sources (ideally encrypted, protected from third parties and shared across healthcare institutions) Artificial intelligence should allow frontline healthcare professionals like pharmacists incredible insights to inform patient conversations with.

Imagine having the knowledge that 43 year old men statistically don’t finish their course of antibiotics, or that people from a certain background traditionally don’t respond well to a certain medication. Think about how much great advice you can give. If you weren’t in a care setting, you’d clap your hands together and evil laugh with all the power now at your disposal. And I painted that hyperbolic picture tongue-in-cheek because, naturally, patients still need to be treated as individuals. This sort of power shouldn’t blind us to the need for individual care. But it certainly makes giving tailored care easier.

heart rate monitor on a wearable watch

Wearables

This is an important one for pharmacies to pay attention to for two reasons.

AI knows cardiac patterns which lead to serious issues, and people wearing health tech can be given early warning signs. The more innovation happens with wearables, the more interventions can be made proactively, instead of reactively. Which in healthcare, makes a massive difference. It’s a lot easier to prevent a heart attack than it is to recover from one.

As a pharmacist, there will almost certainly be a consultation opportunity either to address these Early Warning Signs, or to monitor the use of and advise on the data provided by wearable technologies so that it never reaches that stage. AI will do most of the legwork here when it comes to interpreting and analysing the data. As the pharmacist, it will be your job to give tailored advice based on the AI’s findings. Perhaps it’s a dietary change, perhaps an increase in exercise, perhaps it’s a prescription. Either way, it’s very similar to general health checks now, except far more informed by data, not only from that specific patient, but by all the data gathered by wearables.

Pharmacies perfectly positioned purveyors

The second reason this is important for pharmacists, is because pharmacies should already be looking to be leading distributors of wearable health technology. When people buy in-person, it’s because they want advice about the products from experts. Who better to sell wearable health technology than the health professional who works with them? When the world of wearables reaches its peak, you don’t want to be just learning about them. This is a relevant retail offering, and the sooner you get on board, the better for your pharmacy business. Activity trackers are only the beginning of wearable health tech. Innovations in this area will continue to develop, with nano-technology making the wearables less cumbersome and easier to wear. But it is AI, which makes everything possible.

Of course, there’s going to be people who reject wearing technology, for a number of reasons. So it won’t immediately make every patient interaction super easy. But for the ones who do, you can look forward to better informed consultations.

Monitoring Fraudulent Behaviour

It feels as though I read about a struck-off pharmacist every other week for some fraudulent behaviour or other. But the beauty of AI, especially when coupled with shared data, such as from SystmOne, is that once fraudulent behaviour happens, and happens, and happens again, the system learns the unconscious patterns in an organisation that lead to fraudulent behaviour. The financial world deploys similar systems. In fact, $217 billion has been spent on AI systems preventing fraud and assessing risk within the banking industry alone. Obviously, the expense of these systems is large (these systems usually start at around £100k), however, as technology advances, it will grow increasingly more affordable.

It isn’t just pharmacist fraud either. Prescription fraud faces a tough future, (provided we move to a fully digitised system,) not just with AI detecting fraudulent patient behaviour, but also from blockchain technology. Blockchain is actually the better of the two at stopping fraud (certainly for now) as current anti-fraud AI technology doesn’t work in real-time.

Could A.I. go badly for Pharmacy?

We could wish for AI tomorrow and end up regretting embracing the technology too fast, or for the wrong reasons, Black Mirror style.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, probably the worst-case scenario is the malevolent use of Big Data. There’s a definite argument for whoever controls the data holding too much power. Especially as corporations, whose primary directive is to make more money, are the ones investing heavily in AI. This is especially true if one company ends up as the dominant force in the industry.

Coincidentally, a short while after I wrote the sentence about Big Data being used malevolently, I came across a company called Benevolent AI, involved in drug discovery & development. It’s either sheer coincidence, or the AI industry is already proactively setting the perception this kind of criticism.

AI – Always Infallible?

There’s also the potential for AI to get things wrong. When you consider that it learns solely from data, without the experience or the perspective of a human, then what happens when the data it’s making decisions on is inaccurate, or incomplete? For instance, facial recognition technology isn’t as effective on Black & Asian faces. Imprisoning incorrectly is an issue. Diagnosing incorrectly and prescribing medication for an ailment someone doesn’t have? Also not ideal. Now, there are failsafes we can put in place. But misinterpreted data, or conclusions drawn from incomplete data are potential pitfalls that need accounting for.

What do I need to do as a pharmacist?

Eventually AI will go mainstream and become the default in healthcare settings. As and when this happens, naturally everyone must adapt.

But until that point, my advice is proactively seek out these technologies and innovations, as soon as you can. They make your life easier, and your patients lives better.

Why would you not want that as soon as possible?

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The more we’ve worked with pharmacies, the better we’ve been able to adapt in a way that better serves the Pharmacy Sector.

As our team has grown, so too has the way we work.

Pharmacists at the heart of our restructuring

Two of the major changes we’ve made directly impact the way we work with our clients. And our clients are actually our source of inspiration for one of the changes. We’ve adopted a clinical approach to our service, treating our marketing like medicine. We know it’s going to improve the service. But we hope it also helps pharmacists understand the way we work better, too.

Diagnose & Prescribe

First off, we’ve changed the name of our Sales Division to “Diagnose & Prescribe.”

“Sales” never really fit the way we worked anyway.

Why Diagnose & Prescribe fits our ethos

Communication is all about speaking the same language. Using healthcare terms for our processes helps our clients intuitively understand what we’re going on about. Naturally, pharmacists and pharmacy owners don’t always have knowledge of marketing, so the more we can bridge that divide, the better.

Sales has a tainted reputation, mainly because the practice is rife with bad habits and behaviour. Diagnose & Prescribe is really just how Sales should be. Assessing what the problem is, and recommending a solution. Patients can’t be prescribed medication without having a consultation. The idea of selling a service to someone who doesn’t have a need is equally unthinkable. So, until salespeople clean their act up, we’re not salespeople. We’re consultants.

Fran, one of our Pharmacy Growth Consultants, working hard on developing digital strategies for pharmacies

How does our Diagnose & Prescribe service work?

Our new Diagnose & Prescribe division operates in a way that will be familiar to pharmacists too, as there are several key components to our service with inspiration from inside the pharmacy.

New Marketing Service

A bit like a New Medicine Service, we want you to understand exactly what you’re signing up for. When we’re sending out proposals now, we include links to the in-depth articles we’ve written about the services. These are our Pharmacist Information Leaflets (PILs), meaning you always understand the general benefits and potential side-effects of any services we recommend.

JP, creating the articles we use for our Pharmacist Information Leaflets.

In addition to this, our MUR service conducted by the Diagnose & Prescribe team makes sure your service is going as expected. Our Pharmacy Growth Consultants check in every 3 months with you to make sure your service is running the way it should, and that the desired outcomes are on track to be met.

Quarterly MUR’s (Marketing Use Reviews)

Just like how medicine works differently for every patient, marketing works differently for different pharmacies. This is something we mention to pharmacists a lot. Your reputation, your infrastructure, your location, all these things affect how well your marketing works. Just like a person’s overall health would impact how effective a treatment is.

And so, again, ethically, we feel a responsibility to keep our eye on your pharmacy’s marketing health. Our Diagnose & Prescribe team is beginning to review all our clients’ marketing strategies on an ongoing basis. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, similar to medical tolerances, as your pharmacy grows, (from all the marketing you’ve been doing!) the dosage may need to increase. As an example, a starting budget of £150 for your Google ads may work well when you’re introducing a service, but the more capacity you get to deliver that service, the more you can advertise it.

This is a consultative process throughout. Our team listens to the symptoms of the problems you’re experiencing, and diagnoses accordingly.

Introduction of Dedicated Account Executives

Another essential part of our restructuring has been dedicating a team specifically to communicating with you. As our team has grown, we’ve developed specialist divisions to deliver our services. With more clients joining us, having the departments communicate directly with clients began impacting the delivery of the work. With so many clients, communicating with them became a full-time job.

Our Account Executives giving a presentation on their department

So, we created a full-time position. Two, in fact. Dedicated entirely to communicating with and being an ambassador for clients. This works so well because it means as a client, you only need to speak to one person, no matter what service you’re talking about. Need your website amended? Want a specific social media post? Need to talk to someone about your blog, or advert? All one point of contact.

The Account executives understand your history and your objectives and act as your ambassador to our team.

Our rapidly expanding Web Division

At the dawn of the pandemic, when it became apparent just how poor most pharmacies’ online presence was, there was an explosion of demand for effective pharmacy websites akin to the Big Bang for our Web Team. And, just like the Big Bang, we’ve been expanding ever since. Our Web Team and division is now the biggest in our Company. We’ve built over 200 websites of varying complexity, from the brochure-style pharmacy website to online prescribing clinics and custom-built pharmacy back end solutions. Consisting of front end developers, core PHP back end developers, UX designers and project managers, this innovative division is allowing pharmacies to build their entire operations online to streamline work and drive revenue in new ways. Watch this space.

The evolution of our Marketing Division

Our marketing team used to handle way too much, being full range marketers who would deal with client communications, advertising, organic social media, graphic design, blogging and copywriting. In the last couple of years we’ve been evolving to specialise each of these skills, which delivers better and more efficient end results for our clients. We now have a specific SEO, Paid Ads, Graphic Design and Social Media sub-team within this division, meaning that each arm of our marketing is stronger and more specialised than ever.

Co-ordinating our entire team

After trialling different solutions, we also discovered ClickUp, which has completely revolutionised the way that everyone in Pharmacy Mentor works. This has again massively ramped up efficiency, and reduced human error by introducing robust procedures and SOP’s.

Clients are already happier

The image shows a TrustPilot review. Pharmacy Mentor have been great to work with over the last 18 months, however the recent changes with Lewis as a dedicated account executive and JP working on Strategy has been a more seamless and efficient way of working.

We’ve already heard good things about our new approach, but we won’t rest on our laurels. We’ll continue evolving and adapting to client feedback. With where we are now compared to where we were two years ago, it makes the next two years an incredibly exciting prospect. We hope you can join us on the journey.

A message from our CEO

Saam Ali, a pharmacist by trade and our Founder, gives his two cents:

“It’s been an incredible journey for us so far. As with any business, there have been great highs and many lows. But, what makes us stronger by the day is continuously listening to our client’s feedback, our passion for digital innovation and a thirst for helping the most accessible healthcare points in our communities, pharmacies. We’re on a really important mission and we’re going to do what it takes to get us there. I’d like to thank all of our clients, partners, team and everyone else involved in this great story.”

pharmacy dispensing robots buyers guide
Pharmacy Dispensing Robots can revolutionise pharmacy workflow. But significant investments require confidence in the option you’re picking. This guide curates some of the best offerings on the market into one place, giving you convenience and guidance to start your journey to the promised land of automated dispensing.

Prescription Dispensing Robots, broken down into parts.

If you’ve arrived at this page, you’re probably quite advanced in your decision to acquire a Pharmacy Dispensing Robot. Dispensing Robots automate tasks like dispensing pills, searching for medication, and managing stock levels. They can radically change the workflow of your pharmacy.

But when it comes to all the different options offered by providers, the analysis paralysis is real. Even just one provider has a wide range of options – it’s tricky to narrow down exactly the specification you need. Finding the sweet spot of balancing the cost to impact ratio is the end goal, but with so many options, it’s easy to feel overloaded with information.

So before you decide on four arms or one, Chaotic or Channel-fed dispensing, storing or packaging…read this guide and make your life a little easier. After all, that’s what Pharmacy Robots are supposed to do!

Read more

why distance selling pharmacies need a dep website immediately
The NHSBSA is currently checking if Distance Selling Pharmacies are operating without a fully-compliant DSP website.

Why you need to have a Distance Selling Pharmacy (DSP) website 

Back on the 5th January, 2021, we released an article called “Distance Selling Pharmacy Websites – What the New Regulations Mean For You”. That article takes you through exactly what the GPhC regulations mean for DSPs.

Essentially, if you want to run a licensed DSP,  you need to have a website, and it needs to fulfil a specific set of criteria. If you need the details, check out the article.

The NHSBSA Check-up

The Pharmacy Provider Assurance Team, part of NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA), are in the process of requesting Distance Selling Pharmacies provide them with proof (e.g., a working link to their website) that they are operating with a compliant website.

What this means is you cannot simply get away with not having a website. There are ongoing checks, and these are regulations. So ultimately, you’ll face regulatory action if you aren’t compliant.

How do I create a DSP Website?

Creating a DSP Website is no longer as simple as using a website builder to create a basic website. Since the changes in regulations by the NHS, you need to create a website that adheres to their professional standards. To create a compliant Distance Selling Pharmacy, use our Distance Selling Pharmacy Websites – What the New Regulations Mean For You article as a reference. If you’re building the website by yourself, you can use it to make sure you include every element you need to be compliant.

Outsourcing Website Design

Of course, you might want to leave the website design to the professionals. Pharmacy Mentor work with Rushport Advisory, creating fully-compliant Distance Selling Pharmacy websites for your pharmacy. With our websites, you’re safe in the knowledge that you will pass any NHS auditing of your site.

You don’t want to pay for a website only to find out it isn’t compliant. You’ll have to pay for more development, or worse yet, a whole new website.

Pharmacy Mentor websites are yours to own from Day 1 (some web providers simply rent you their software and it doesn’t belong to your business) and feature everything you need to pass any NHS audit.

Setting up a Distance Selling Pharmacy?

If you’re simply in the process of setting up your Distance Selling Pharmacy, and you’re reading this to understand what you need to do in future? Check out How to Setup a Distance Selling Pharmacy in England. It’s a comprehensive breakdown of all the steps you need to take to set up.

Have any questions about this article? Want us to build a fully-compliant DSP website for you? Get in touch using our contact page.

Pharmacy EPOS Systems have undergone something of a switch from analogue to digital in recent years. This guide takes you through the options that now exist for community pharmacies looking to upgrade their system.

What is an EPOS system and why is it important for your Pharmacy?

Pharmacy EPOS systems help pharmacies accept payments electronically. Most EPOS systems enable tracking available inventory, managing customers, and confirming or approving purchase orders. EPOS stands for electronic point-of-sale, and can range from a basic card reading terminal to a complete stock-management system for your entire pharmacy business.

There are many EPOS providers across the UK, but not all EPOS systems are suitable for pharmacies. The providers featured in this article are some of the top EPOS providers with specialist solutions for pharmacies in the UK.

If you already know about EPOS systems and what you’re looking for, you can skip straight to some of the top EPOS systems in the UK to compare providers.

There are two types of EPOS systems, on-premise & cloud-based.

On-premise EPOS Systems

On-premise EPOS solutions store all your data (which populates your system and allows it to function) on a physical storage device on your premises. Click through the slides below for the Pros & Cons of On-premise EPOS solutions.

Cloud-based EPOS Systems

Cloud-based EPOS solutions store all your data (which populates your system and allows it to function) on a remote server. Your EPOS accesses the data via the internet. Again, for the pros & cons of cloud-based solutions, simply click through the slider below.

The Hardware

Points of Sale were once just cash registers, with each transaction manually typed in. Modern points of sale are now usually computers or tablets which run EPOS software. They come with product information, prices, and stock levels all pre-loaded. There are also add-ons to the core unit which are also EPOS hardware you’d need to invest in. Card readers, cash drawers, printers & barcode scanners are examples of extra hardware you’d want alongside your main POS. If you’re still struggling to picture an EPOS, a self-checkout at a Supermarket is a classic example of an EPOS.

The Software

EPOS software runs off a browser or app installed onto your EPOS hardware. And it’s likely to be the biggest differentiator when it comes to deciding between providers. Whilst hypothetically, you could build a completely bespoke EPOS software that matches 100% of your pharmacy needs, the significant extra cost of doing this may likely not be worth it when an off-the-shelf solution does 90% of what you need from it at a substantially lower price.

Understanding What You Need from a Pharmacy EPOS System Before You Make A Decision

Getting the right EPOS system for your pharmacy business is an important decision. The right solution can save you a lot of time and money. The wrong system for your business can leave you with headaches of hidden costs, and frustrations for your pharmacy team when using the system.

Features you need Vs. Features you don’t

For instance, as a pharmacy, you don’t need a feature incorporating tips into the payment process (that would really be something for pharmacists, hey?). Instead, features that automatically update product information from all the major wholesale suppliers through various databases like C+D.

On-premise solutions not relying on an internet connection to function, for instance, is only one “pro” of an on-premise solution, but for most pharmacies with unreliable N3 Broadband connections, this is a huge benefit.

Multiples Vs. Single Pharmacy

Additionally, if a system is incredible for streamlining multiple kiosks or locations onto one system, and you run a small community pharmacy with only one point of sale, you wouldn’t pay for all that functionality when you won’t benefit from it.

Compromise

Whilst you might not find one single system that fits your pharmacy business like a glove, it’s still important to find the best fit.

What hardware will I need as a pharmacy?

The core hardware that 99% of pharmacies will need are as follows:

  • A fixed desktop EPOS computer.
  • A scanner
  • A printer
  • A card reader – especially one with contactless options
  • A cash drawer

What I’d add to this list, from a marketing agency perspective, is that you’ll massively benefit from a desktop EPOS that has a customer-facing touchscreen. The reason I’d do this personally, is because I would see this as a massive opportunity to increase customer retention. If you can work into your checkout process an option to have their receipts either texted or emailed to them, this then means that you can get their number or email onto your database.

If they opt-in to marketing communications with you (incentivise this with retail offers), you now have a direct line to communicate with that person. Even if only 1 out of 10 people leaves their details with you, if you have 100 people coming through your pharmacy every day, your marketing list is growing by 10 people every day.

Want to understand this opportunity more? Check out our Complete Guide to Email Marketing.

Should I get an on-premises EPOS system or a cloud-based one?

Whilst there are different factors to consider for your individual pharmacy business, most community pharmacies will find cloud-based EPOS systems are the right solution for them. The reason for this is that most innovations and advances in EPOS technology (most of which are BIG time-savers) are enabled by cloud technology.

Should I get a fixed desktop checkout or a flexible tablet/mobile-based checkout?

A fixed desktop checkout is best for pharmacies with a clear focal point to the shop floor. Whereas a mobile checkout allows team members to engage patients and customers anywhere in the store and go through a checkout process with them (think Apple Store).

For 99% of pharmacies at this moment, the traditional desktop kiosk makes sense.

But for pharmacies adopting a more contemporary, clinical model, with a pharmacy layout to suit, a more flexible checkout process could help underpin the new approach. At the very least, a self-checkout process for GSL & other non-pharmaceutical items would assist in cutting waiting times, and therefore improving patient experiences for the people who need to speak to a pharmacist.

It might be that, with all things in life, the sweet spot is the balance between the two. Especially if you’re wanting to balance a large prescription business with a clinical model. It is perfectly possible to combine both desktop POS with mobile POS devices, but naturally, this would be more expensive.

What are the key benefits of a Pharmacy EPOS system?

You’ll find most of these benefits are standard with the providers listed below. These are pretty benefits from having a modern pharmacy EPOS system, rather than unique selling points for any single provider.

  • The standard benefit of Electronic payments is obvious. In a digital world, people visiting your pharmacy expect they can pay with their card or phone.
  • Many features of EPOS systems save time, either via removing the need for manual entry or automating stock-reordering
  • Pharmacy Multiples benefit hugely from the administration of all their pharmacies being managed from one location.
  • Pharmacies with eCommerce sites benefit hugely from their stock being integrated online and in-store.
  • Data = knowledge. Insights into customer buying habits, best-selling products, highest selling-team members etc.
  • Across the board, EPOS systems tie in with databases like the C+D data website. (N.B., there may well be a mark-up on the price than if you were to subscribe to the data yourselves, but it’s one less thing to do when it’s included in basically every package.)

pharmacy epos system providers list begins here

Some of the Top Pharmacy EPOS Systems in the UK

Positive Solutions – Analyst EPOS System

Positive Solutions also had an entry in our PMR Comparison Guide, and whilst you might not be in the market for a PMR system right now, it is relevant, and that’s a bit of a trend throughout this article. Your software all working together makes everything seamless. No matter what system you log on to, all the data works together. This simplifies your business so much.

Their main USP is the digital ecosystem in which their products sit. As I mentioned in the PMR Guide, their system is the clear winner if you’re interested in their Integrated Pharmacy Solution.

As we’ll also cover with MedEpos, integrations are valuable to your pharmacy team’s workflow.

Why is it important for my PMR system to integrate with my EPOS system?

Picture the scene in a peak time rush. You’re pharmacist on the counter. The next patient in line asks if their prescription is ready yet. Your PMR terminal is in the back of the pharmacy, and there’s a queue of people waiting. You nip into the back. The terminal’s in use. You either have to interrupt what the other pharmacist is doing, or wait for them to finish. All the while, that queue of people is stood there with no one at the counter.

With an integrated PMR in your EPOS system, you can check there and then where that patient’s prescription is.

“It got sent to us 5 minutes ago,” you say.

“So is it ready yet?”

It’s worth checking out their website, or calling them for a conversation if you have other automations, such as dispensing robots, as Positive Solutions boast integrations with other automation partners like BD Rowa.

Check out Positive Solutions’ Analyst EPOS System

medepos pharmacy epos solutions logo

MedEpos

MedEpos hardware comes with a rear-screen (customer-facing) that can display advertisements and messages just like any digital screen in your pharmacy. You can also use it for your CPPQ requirements. This has the nice little bonus of keeping the patient occupied during any wait, and helps you meet your survey quota.

MedEpos is partnered with Cegedim, and integrates with Pharmacy Manager, Cegedim’s PMR system. Again, it’s going to be a popular choice with pharmacies who already have Pharmacy Manager as their PMR system, as your PMR and EPOS systems playing nicely together presents real benefits on the shop floor.

And going with MedEpos, that’s exactly what will happen. With access to both Pharmacy Manager and MedEpos at your pharmacy counter (presuming you’re wanting a fixed desktop EPOS unit) your dispensing process is seamless, saving you and your whole pharmacy team time, and improving patient interaction.

Check out MedEpos’ Pharmacy EPOS Solution

csy retail systems logo

CSY Retail Systems

CSY, involved in the Pharmacy sector for over 15 years, and several hundred pharmacies use their service and are also recommended by the National Pharmacy Association.

Their focus is on-premise EPOS solutions, which for many pharmacy teams is a huge plus. Unreliable N3 connections can cripple a cloud-based pharmacy. This may become less of an issue in the future with more superfast reliable broadband, but for now, reliability remains the principle focus of a lot of pharmacies.

CSY’s EPOS product was built with multiples in mind, rather than some providers who have just tweaked their offering to incorporate a multiple solution. Indeed, their list of pharmacy clients is predominantly pharmacy groups with 15+ branches minimum.

If you’re a pharmacy multiple, it’s going to be well worth your time having a conversation with CSY.

Integration with WooCommerce

CSY’s system integrates with WooCommerce, which in layman’s terms is what turns a WordPress website into an eCommerce site.

A fan of Pointy from Google?

For those who don’t know what Pointy is, it essentially takes all the products from your inventory and lists them on Google in the shopping tab. People can find you through your products, directly from Google search.

You don’t need to operate eCommerce, (though that would help), as Pointy can direct people to your store to get the item they need.

With CSY’s EPOS. you can download Pointy directly onto your CSY EPOS system and get started immediately.

View CSY’s Pharmacy EPOS system offering here

So which is the best Pharmacy EPOS system for your pharmacy?

The best pharmacy EPOS providers for pharmacies in the UK all allow approximately the same functionality of stock management, recording customer buying data and end-of-month automatic reporting. In reality, the best choice for your business is going to come down to additional factors, such as additional hardware you may need, the price points, and what software you currently have that you’d like your EPOS system to integrate with.

Don’t forget, this is far from an exhaustive list of suppliers. MedEpos, Positive Solutions, and CSY Retail give you a varied selection to consider initially.

Something to consider is asking any Locums that work for you for their feedback on systems they’ve worked with. The advantage of them working in different locations is they may well have worked with multiple different systems. Their feedback might provide valuable insight for your pharmacy.


Have you been using a particular EPOS system for your pharmacy sales? Finding a solution useful or poor? We’d love to hear from you.

If you’re looking for help in selecting the right EPOS for your pharmacy, please get in touch with us. We’ll be glad to help.

We’re delighted to announce our latest collaboration with Alphega Pharmacy UK, a massive step towards our goal of helping every independent community pharmacy digitise & market themselves better.

Alphega Pharmacy is a leading European network of independent pharmacists, with over 1,000 member pharmacies across the UK.  Their aim of improving the health and wellbeing of communities by delivering a future vision for independent community pharmacy is perfectly aligned with our own vision to improve access to healthcare through pharmacies.

The aim of the relationship

Alphega offers member pharmacists who join their group a full range of services and support, assisting with the success of their pharmacy. With exclusive member benefits like the Alphega App & the Alphega Pharmacy Business Academy, they focus on improving the infrastructure of the pharmacy business.

This complements the service Pharmacy Mentor offers to pharmacies. Marketing in any industry is easier when the business you’re promoting is convenient and practical for its users. With Alphega helping its members streamline their business, and Pharmacy Mentor promoting that pharmacy to its community, the pharmacist can focus on what they do best. Helping patients.

So as a partnership, it makes perfect sense. Pharmacy Mentor already worked with several Alphega Pharmacy members, to great success. We welcome the opportunity now of promoting more Alphega members to their prospective patients.

How Pharmacy Mentor help Alphega Members

Pharmacy Mentor helps Alphega Members build on the platform Alphega provides them. For instance, we can help member pharmacies increase their sign-ups to the Alphega App either through specialised Alphega-Only marketing packs for them, or our exclusive Alphega-Members Only course, which gives up to 4 employees access to learning modules, showing them how to do it themselves.

A word from Pharmacy Mentor CEO, Saam Ali

“We’re so excited to be working closely with Alphega Pharmacy and their members. Our collaboration means that we’re going to be supporting the digital growth of Community Pharmacy and improving access to healthcare. This sits perfectly in line with our mission and vision.”

Most community pharmacies have a pharmacy website. But just having a website is pointless if it doesn’t serve a purpose for your pharmacy.

What makes a good pharmacy website?

A good pharmacy website is one that creates value for your business. Good pharmacy websites are assets, just like a member of your team. And just like a member of your team, your website should be nurtured, not neglected.

This is a list of 5 features you should treat your website to. With all these in place, you’ll quickly see the value of a “good” pharmacy website.

what does a good pharmacy website look like?

1. Discoverability (Search Engine Optimisation)

Creating a website that gets no visitors is about as useful as opening up a pharmacy in the middle of the Sahara desert. Ie, you just shouldn’t bother.

With every website should be a plan to acquire visitors. Don’t have one? Get one.

A lot of people expect that somehow when their website is built, visitors will sort of just, happen.

There’s a definite blind spot between consumers and website designers, where consumers expect this to be part of their website build, and designers don’t ask the right questions for the client to realise that the on-page content needs to be optimised for search engines to pick it up.

So, whose responsibility is it?

I sympathise a little with the designers. Designers see themselves as architects, not interior designers. You wouldn’t expect your architect to choose your wallpaper. That’s how most web developers see the written content on your website. As your responsibility. After all, their speciality is coding, not writing.

However, I sympathise more with the business buying the website. Websites are relatively new, compared to my analogy of houses and architects. And because they’re new, there isn’t a common understanding of how they work. So in my view, it’s on the agency, service provider to make sure the client is at least aware of what having a website entails.

However, there are a surprising number of web development agencies who wash their hands of the success of a website once it leaves the design phase.

We are very transparent with our clients that without an SEO strategy in place to attract visitors to their site, the website won’t be as effective.

What is SEO and how does it attract visitors?

If you don’t know what SEO is or how it works, I’d strongly recommend you check out our complete guide to SEO. But in a nutshell, SEO is the process of optimising your website so it shows up on search engines.

SEO tells Google what searches you’d like to show up for

Whilst there are a lot of technical aspects that contribute to SEO that do fall under the responsibility of your web development team, your on-page content (ie the words on your website) determines which search terms you want your website to show up for. So it’s massively important this is given the attention it deserves, not swept under the rug like it often is.

Is there no other way to attract visitors?

Technically, there could be other ways you attract visitors to your pharmacy website, but realistically, most pharmacies don’t have anything like the right online infrastructure in place to do this. For instance, you could have a great email or social media funnel which regularly links to your website. But even if you did, that’s no reason to close the door on an opportunity to attract thousands of new visitors.

2. Modern, mobile-friendly design

Design matters so much when it comes to your website. Website design isn’t just how a website looks, but also how it works, how it’s laid out, and how easy it is to use. And especially nowadays, how easy it is to use on a mobile device.

Why design of a pharmacy website matters so much

In this whole section on design, and I can’t promise it will end there, user expectations will dominate the conversation.

Expectation vs Reality

There are three levels to expectations. You can either exceed, meet, or fall short of them. And at the time of writing, so many pharmacy websites fall short of the public’s expectations.

Where do these expectations come from? Experience. And not just with a pharmacy website. But with any website.

Your pharmacy website should be as easy to use as any modern website, because that’s what you’re up against in the eyes of the public.

If your website doesn’t meet expectations, people will leave, and quickly.

Ever-evolving design

Great design starts with good foundations, but it shouldn’t end there. Once your site is live, you can analyse how users are interacting with your site.

Understanding how your users behave on your website helps you create an even better design, which encourages more users to spend more time on your pharmacy website. The longer they spend on your website, the more they understand what you offer. The more they understand what you offer, the more likely they are to take you up on that offer. It’s a lovely little chain that all starts with the design of your site.

What are the expectations of a pharmacy website?

Expectations for a pharmacy website would be the same as the expectations of a pharmacy:

  • Clean and spacious feel
  • Intuitive layout
  • Clearly signposted areas of interest e.g., prescriptions, clinics, products
  • Short waiting times
  • Information & advice available on demand
  • Accessible contact
  • Ability to book and pay for services & products

The more you imagine replicating your pharmacy experience on your website, the better your website will be.

A good user experience (UX)

The bar for best practice is constantly being raised, as both technology and developer’s skills improve. This is why older designs aren’t feasible anymore. It’s like modern cars being designed without anti-lock brakes, or power steering. The technology is there, so there’s no excuse to not incorporate it into your design. Asking people to use your old website with poor functionality is like trying to sell a car from the ’90s in a new showroom. No one’s going to accept it.

3. Updated Information

Updated information on a pharmacy website helps both you and your community. The last thing your pharmacy team needs is pressure from patients who’ve read something on your website that doesn’t apply anymore, such as opening times, or prices.

Consistently updating your website might seem like a lot of effort. But if you think of how many people that information serves, compared to how many times you’d have to individually explain it over the phone or in-person…it is actually a time-saver.

Imagine how many fewer phone calls you’d get if your website had up-to-date COVID information on it. (Now, that particular example is extreme, as it isn’t your information, and it’s changing constantly, but it’s a relevant example for the moment.)

Search engines love updated content

Updated information also helps with your on-page SEO, which we talked about earlier. Search engines want to give their users the most relevant information for their queries, so fresh information has a better chance of being recommended more highly.

4. Booking Calendar

A booking calendar gives all your online marketing activities a focal point. It gives your customer journey a finish line. In short, as a pharmacy aiming for more clinical bookings – it’s your marketing’s raison d’etre (the reason it exists).

Directing people to your booking calendar

Social Media Posts

Now, this doesn’t mean that every time you make any post on social media ever, you link your booking calendar. But anything that relates to your services can (and should) absolutely have a link to book the service in question.

Blog Posts

The same goes for any blog posts you do. The reason you should be blogging is to drive relevant traffic to your website. Relevant, in a pharmacy’s case, means people who might well become patients or customers. Throughout these blogs, but especially at the end of the blog, you need to provide a link and show people they’re able to book now.

If the blog is about a health condition, there’s a good chance they’ve just searched their symptoms on Google. Now they’ve come to your website because of the updated information on your website that you’ve optimised for search engines, (see points 1 & 3), you might link to booking a consultation with a pharmacist.

If they found your private clinic page, it means they’re looking for treatment, and there should be an option to book that treatment, making it as easy as possible for people to use your pharmacy.

Free up your pharmacy team

Your pharmacy team is too busy to handle bookings. Especially when it’s often not just bookings, but rescheduling or cancellations. (20% to 30% of patients cancel or re-book their medical appointments ((Well App, 2021)).

Booking calendar on a pharmacy website

This pharmacy website has a separate booking calendar for each category of clinical services.

Improve Your Patient Experience

Booking an appointment online takes less than a minute. Booking over the phone takes 8.1 minutes on average, taking into account being put on hold. (CalendarHero, 2021).

87% of potential new patients do not leave a message or book an appointment when reaching voicemail (CallTracker).

An elegant solution, a simple website addition

Let your website handle your pharmacy bookings and you get:

  • Increased bookings – physicians who offer online appointments alongside phone appointments were booked 24% more than those who offer phone appointments only (Dental Economics, 2021).
  • Out-of-hours bookings made – 43% of patients search for health care professionals after business hours (Dental Economics, 2021).
  • Minimise no-shows (especially in combination with text/email reminders)
  • Give a sensible Call-To-Action (CTA) for any service-related digital marketing activities
  • Efficient appointments – online appointment scheduling makes time for two extra patients every day (Deloitte).

Booking software is cost-effective, especially if you have an already thriving clinical business. Just in the time saved for your pharmacy team, it pays for itself.

5. Payments

Having an online payments solution on your website hinges on whether or not you sell products or take bookings through your website. But on the assumption that you’re doing at least one of those two things, taking payments online is a real must.

Why should I accept payments on my pharmacy website?

Firstly, with a pharmacy eCommerce website, (follow the link for a how-to guide for eCommerce), payments are a must. You can’t sell products if you can’t take payments. There isn’t much more that needs to be said on that.

Even if you’re only promoting clinical services, however, taking online payments on your pharmacy website is a massive boon. We touched on minimising no-shows in the previous point, and it applies again here. When someone has paid for a service, they’re committed to showing up, allowing you to run your clinic without constantly wondering if the next patient’s going to be there.

It’s more convenient for both you and your patients

If a patient has already paid, they don’t need to remember to bring anything to the appointment. There isn’t an issue if your card machine stops working, or if you don’t have the right change.

Also…

Payments take up everyone’s time

Let’s say private Flu Vaccine Clinic appointment slots are 5 minutes, and it takes a minute to make a payment.

For every 5 patients you see, you lose an appointment slot. And if your calendar doesn’t take this time into account, it can quickly make your time run over for your appointments.

Allowing people to pay when they book kills two birds with one stone, allowing your clinic to run efficiently, and with peace of mind that those appointments will actually be fulfilled. Read more about online payments here.

Online Payment Gateways for Pharmacy

Read our article for the Top Online Payment Gateways for your Pharmacy.

 


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