The Ultimate Prescription Collection Machine Comparison Guide
Prescription Collection Machines are exploding in popularity in the UK. So we thought we’d save you some time shopping around and write a guide. Hopefully it saves some valuable time finding the right one for your pharmacy.

As a digital marketing and development agency, with a goal of increasing patient numbers whilst improving workflow for pharmacies, we regularly discuss the use of Prescription Collection Machines to our clients.

In December 2021, we featured Prescription Collection Machines in our Ultimate Guide to Automating Your Pharmacy.

The industry is now reacting, and you’re probably on the lookout for a machine that impacts your workflow and patient experience in the same way.

If you’re already sure you want a Prescription Collection Machine, skip down a few headings to see providers’ offerings.

Will my pharmacy benefit from a Prescription Collection Machine?

If you are undecided on investing in a machine at all, you need only look at how it’s transformed the pharmacies who’ve introduced them.

During the course of the pandemic, we saw our clients experience a massive impact post-installation of Prescription Collection Machines in:

  • Attracting New Patients, especially when advertised online (links to Case Study)
  • Managing prescription workload and easing workflow
  • Reducing waiting times, queues and “Is my prescription ready yet?” questions
  • Maximising the convenience of prescription collection in general

The only way your pharmacy wouldn’t benefit from a Prescription Collection Point, is if you’re in an area so remote and sparsely populated that there aren’t the numbers to warrant it.

Most providers cite a certain number of items per month, which they say makes investing in a Prescription Collection Machine worth it. But the reality is, with the convenience of 24/7 collection for your patients, the machine will increase your EPS sign-ups, especially if you’re the only pharmacy in your area which has one. And as we continue into a more clinical model of pharmacy, any way you can free up the time of your pharmacy team and improve workflow efficiency is a good investment.

How do Prescription Collection Machines work?

Prescription Collection Machines are the ATMs of Pharmacy. Instead of queueing in the bank to withdraw money, ATM’s allowed the secure withdrawal of cash 24/7. Prescription Collection Machines do the same for Prescriptions. Freeing up staff time, allowing more time for value-adding actions, and saving the customers from unnecessary waits.

The core mechanics of how they work:

  • Step 1

    Script is Processed

    The prescription is processed in the normal way and bagged up

  • Step 2

    Scan the Barcode

    The barcode on the label is scanned before allocation in the machine

    Step 2

  • Step 3

    Place inside Prescription Collection Machine

    The prescription bag is paced into machine, ready for patient to collect.

  • Step 4

    "Prescription Ready" Text Alert

    The message can be customised, but always contains the PIN required to operate the machine.

    Step 4

  • Step 5

    Patient Collects Medication

    Using the PIN provided, the patient then collects their medication at a time convenient to them.

Of course, people need to sign up for EPS with you in order to use the service, as this service naturally requires their details.

The best part about the automation, in our eyes, is the ability to balance workload. When you know you’ve got a certain amount of prescriptions to load in for collections, you can wait for a quieter time in the day and load them in bulk.

Spreading the work over the course of the day instead of the manic rushes reduces the stress on your pharmacy team, and their stress as a result.

Managing the Cost of Investing in Machinery

It’s also worth noting that when investing in Prescription Collection Machines, you can deduct some or all of the cost of the machinery through your Capital Allowances.

Spreading the cost of more expensive machinery over a number of years can shave a lot of the difference off that expense, and leave you with a higher value asset in your business.

It’s worth discussing both financing plans and tax planning with your accountant and the suppliers, and comparing the options to determine the true cost to your business before investing.

Prescription Collection Machine Suppliers

Without further ado (because that was quite a lot of ado) here is your shortlist for Prescription Collection Machine comparison.

Pharmaself24

Pharmaself24, recently acquired by Omnicell, are the market leaders in Automated Prescription Collection. This acquisition is important too, because it couples the market leading machines with Omnicell’s vast experience in automating retail pharmacy.

The biggest thing that stood out for me is that the Pharmaself24 doesn’t operate like a converted vending machine. In a vending machine, there’s no way to access anything other than the items at the front. The Pharmaself24 Multi design (more like an ATM), allowing for more flexible layout configurations within your pharmacy space, as well as a massively increased capacity. (Think 10 x 10 x 10 capacity, rather than 10 x 10.)

The Pharmaself24 Compact works its robotic mechanisms on a cylinder, which again differs from the stock vending machine technology, increasing capacity.

When the whole point is automating the prescription process, increasing capacity efficiently is the biggest winner. I mention efficiently specifically, because, real estate is valuable, and some pharmacies won’t have room for multiple machines. The Pharmaself24’s effective use of its space is a standout difference.

It’s important too, that the internal front lighting is so bright. Patients collecting 24/7 need external lighting at night (or in the case of the UK, from 5pm-8am from November to February.) Incorporating this into the design is clever. The whole appearance looks slick, a hallmark of good design.

Not only is it slick, but it’s robust, with a certificated anti-vandal IK10 rating. IK is a measurement of how much impact it can withstand, from 0 to 10.

Omnicell Pharmaself 24 Features

  • Unrivalled Capacity
  • Works with both Standalone Software and PMR Integrations
  • Premium Hardware
  • Modular Feature & Colour Customisation Available
  • External & Internal Options
  • Routine Annual Maintenance Checks
  • Fast Loading & Intuitive Traffic Light System
  • Secure IK10 Certification (Anti-Vandalism Protection)

MedPoint

MedPoint is a really solid option, offering a wide range of model sizes. The one that struck us most here was the MedPoint SOLO, designed to be separate to the Pharmacy.

A unique opportunity with MedPoint SOLO

The reason that struck us, wasn’t its cold-chain medicine option (though that’s cool…literally), nor the fact that even pharmacies with no physical floor space available can get the technology. It’s the potential of increasing patient convenience even more.

Covering quite a wide catchment area means travelling to your pharmacy might still be cumbersome for many patients. But delivering to every single patient is also costly and not environmentally friendly. The SOLO could give your pharmacy an outpost – a more convenient location for a wider reach of patients to collect their medications. It would work similar to Amazon Lockers, where a delivery driver delivers to the Prescription Collection Machine and loads everything there, instead of at the pharmacy.

(This machine is a demonstration model.)

 

The MedPoint also integrates with a growing list of PMR systems which I’m assured will include all the top PMR Providers.

We love that MedPoint, like Pharmaself24, also show lighting consideration for users with their external light.

MedPoint Features

  • Utilises width rather than depth
  • Developed MedPoint API works with PMR Integrations & other third-party apps
  • MedPoint Solo offers a unique standalone solution
  • Secure – fitted with CCTV and alarm as standard
  • Completely customisable branding
  • Routine maintenance checks every 6 months
  • Manufactured in Britain

Pharmabox 24

The “affordable” option, the Pharmabox 24 is very much the no-frills solution.

It does the automation part, it’s simple to use, and it works. Whilst not as all-singing, all-dancing, it might well be the entry point for pharmacists on a tight budget.

“Yes our sensors allow each customer 1 minute to collect their package from the flashing collection drawer, and if something is still detected after this time the drawer door will lock. The alloted Pharmabox24 local manager/contact point will receive a service text message to say that there is a package needing to be removed. The “release code” is entered into the front panel and the package can be removed, and can identify obviously who the offender was!

Our internal CCTV records all the activity and the pharmacy’s own CCTV can also be used to show what happened.

Our experience is that this happens very rarely but is a necessary security option.

We recommend the backlit LED lighting for the front panel which provides just the right level of lighting for the customer collecting. Equally in some situations, we recommend a PIR LED downlight to be fitted in the vicinity of the Pharmabox24 in order that the right level of safe lighting is achieved. This is usually included as part of the survey and planning permission work.”

Pharmabox24 Features

  • Utilises width rather than depth
  • Available in a range of sizes

Summary

Ultimately, your pharmacy will have its own specific needs.

Whilst there are many variables between models, you might be constrained by available space, meaning you benefit from either a model that utilises width over depth or vice versa. It’s worth a chat with Chris at T3 Pharmacy Design if you’re struggling with space or the layout of your pharmacy.

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The decline of footfall and consequential retail sales has impacted many Community Pharmacies. NearSt offers an innovative solution for boosting both.

Why should pharmacies appear in local searches? And why is NearSt a great tool for boosting pharmacy retail sales? The points below should convince you of its utility.

  • “Near me” or “close by” type searches grew by more than 900% over the last two years. (Source: Chat Meter
  • 83% of online shoppers are willing to go in-store if a product’s availability is guaranteed beforehand. (Source: Google)
  • 47% of pharmacy shoppers want digital inventory management to know if items are in-stock before they go. (Source: PYMNTS, 2022)
  • 78% of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase. (Source: SEO Tribunal)
  • 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles. (Source: HubSpot Marketing Statistics, 2022)
  • 50% of all local search ends with a visit within 24 hours. (Source: Uberall, 2019)

All of those are applicable to Community Pharmacies. But the “Near Me” searches are where NearSt shines, and where the main benefit for you as a local business comes in.

How does NearSt help Pharmacies?

NearSt solves your community’s problem of needing something immediately but not knowing where it’s in stock. NearSt (hence the name) lets them know where the product is being stocked near them whenever (and wherever) they search for it online.

Anything that solves your customers and patients problems, is an asset for your business.

Turning online shoppers into in-store customers

People shop online for convenience. But waiting even a day for a product isn’t convenient compared with collecting it that same day from a local shop. With healthcare products, it’s even more likely your customers want things immediately.

A real-time view of what local shoppers want

Sir Lord Major General Alan Sugar has a phrase he rolls out every series on The Apprentice – “smell what sells.”

NearSt gives digestible insights into what nearby customers want to make sure your pharmacy is always stocking the right products, by providing real-time information about what shoppers near your pharmacy are searching for.

By stocking the things your community is searching for, and showing up when they search for it, you’re putting yourself in a winning formula which equals sales.

How does NearSt work?

NearSt integrates with your EPOS system and puts your live in-store stock onto Google, as well as product descriptions, price, and images. It’s constantly talking to your EPOS system which means the information online is always up-to-date.

The difference between NearSt and Pointy by Google

Those of you with Pointy might be thinking, I already have that! Well, yes, but not quite. Understanding the difference between Pointy & NearSt took me a while too, but there are critical differences.

The main differences between Pointy by Google and NearSt are:

  • Pointy is hardware, NearSt is software. Instead of having to manually scan your entire product range, it’s uploaded automatically, saving you loads of time.
  • Pointy is owned by Google, therefore only works with Google search engines. NearSt works with every search engine, including Facebook.
  • Because it’s linked with your EPOS system, NearSt has LIVE information about your stock levels, meaning people aren’t making the journey into your store then getting dissapointedd when you have no stock.

What if I’ve got an eCommerce website?

An eCommerce website is a great solution for declining footfall and the increase in online shopping activity. However, it may not solve the problem for patients and customers who need a product right now i.e. on the day and not delivered in 2 days, for example.

Using NearSt, even if you’re an eCommerce brand, you’re offering your patients and customers even more convenience by giving them an immediate solution as well as an online one, where they can go and get the product in store.

Can this work with my Pharmacy Mentor website?

You’re darn right it can! We can integrate NearSt with your website via different means. We can create hyperlinks, embed widgets and more. Get in touch with us to find out how.

Case Study – NearSt

I know you love a good case study, so here’s two for the price of one. (Sorry for the retail pun.)

How a local chemist used NearSt as a no-fuss solution to drive in-store customers

In just 4 weeks, Massingham’s products were discovered over 152,000 times in Google by nearby shoppers, driving 157 new customers in-store. One was noted as saying, “we didn’t know you existed, what a lovely shop!”

How a rural pharmacy got their product catalogue online instantly with NearSt

“It’s been great for us. It’s been useful to give people the opportunity to see what we have available in the shop. Our regular customers also use NearSt to check that we have a product in stock that they already know they want.”

– Nick, Clare Pharmacy

Whilst NearSt don’t operate purely with Community Pharmacies, their existing cases show it works. Knowing what I do about most Community Pharmacies’ desire to increase the retail sales, this for me seemed like an obvious solution.

And there’s no massive commitment, either. Pay monthly just like you would a Netflix account.

Head over to NearSt’s website or email us at growth@pharmacymentor.com and ask us for an introduction.

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increasing pharmacy sales
Every conversation in your pharmacy is an opportunity for helping patients further. The more you know about the patient, the better your service gets. This guide explores the best ways for better serving your patients and increasing your revenue in the process

Increasing pharmacy sales requires talking, exemplified no better than market traders whose dialogue with customers is paramount.

Increasing Pharmacy Sales through your existing patients

A question that’s on practically every pharmacy owner’s lips right now is, “How can I increase the revenue and profitability of my pharmacy?”

There are many ways of doing this, and you should browse around similar guides we’ve written on our blog. We usually focus on how digital marketing helps achieve more sales and improve your workflow.

However, in this article we’re going to examine the tactics you employ on the pharmacy floor. You don’t need any new patients for this, you simply need an open mind for a new approach to both cross-selling and upselling.

It’s important to note that at the heart of increasing revenue is great patient care, quality customer service and convenience. We never want to sell a patient anything unnecessary, and we wish to always remain ethical about what we sell.

The difference between Cross-Selling & Upselling

Cross-selling and upselling are both effective ways of increasing pharmacy sales, whether that’s through promoting services or recommending products.

An example of cross-selling is somebody visiting your pharmacy to collect their prescription and you or your pharmacy team recommending your ear health consultation or microsuction service.

Upselling is where somebody comes in to buy ibuprofen for their back pain, and they leave with a stronger, more effective painkiller or a heat pad for their back. These are more valuable, upgraded versions of the solution they’re already purchasing.

Balancing cross-selling with speedy service

Now, there are two natural enemies of uncovering patient’s problems: time and privacy.

Ideally, a patient isn’t in a rush and there’s no one behind them in the queue. The best time for these conversations would be during a consultation. Realistically however, the bulk of your interactions are at the counter.

So whilst it’s worth bearing in mind that, whilst someone is waiting alone in a pharmacy for their prescription, that’s a great opportunity to explore their other healthcare needs. You also need a tactic for when it’s busy.

Some good Questions for cross-selling and upselling

Cross-selling and upselling in a pharmacy requires training and a good knowledge of your products and services. When our CEO, Saam, was at the coalface, he’d have a conversation with every single patient and customer that he possibly could, given how busy the pharmacy was at the time of course. It always started with a simple smile and:

“How are you doing today?” 

Which is a great way to instantly develop a bond, and shows that you care. Without this essential first step, you’re unlikely to get the best conversation out of the patient and provide the best care.

We’ll provide additional information below each question, but just a foreword that these are recommendations for individual questions, not a full list of questions to ask people at the pharmacy counter. Also, we need to be sure that we’ve asked the usual WWHAM questions for safe and effective supply.

Have you considered using X and Y?

Often, patients come in and go straight to the counter asking for a specific medicine e.g. Day Nurse or Beechams. They have a cold and are feeling under the weather. 80% of pharmacies will sell the product that the patient will ask for, and that’s it. The rest however, will have had a great conversation with the patient and talk to them about:

  • If they have any immune boosters, such as echinacea or Vitamin C with Zinc
  • How the separate ingredients in the branded product can be bought separately e.g. Paracetamol and Ibuprofen at larger quantities for the same price
  • How their sleep is right now that could be affecting their health
  • What their diet is like perhaps
  • If they’ve had the flu jab or not

With the right conversation and actively caring more about the patients’ health, you’ll be able to offer a more rounded, holistic approach to healthcare that will build trust in your patient. The side effect of this is more sales.

That’s why training your team on this is so important, as the pharmacist will be very busy in many circumstances. Every conversation or interaction is an opportunity to make more of a difference to someone’s health. What a great position to be in!

Would you like to book in for a free X whilst you’re here?

X can represent anything, but given that we’re offering it for free, it’s probably best sticking with things that are usually free anyway, such as Blood Pressure Checks or NHS Health Checks (if you’re in the UK). Whilst those checks themselves are useful for the patient, they also present opportunities for building the relationship further. As mentioned before, a consultation environment is a better environment than the counter for questions like the one below.

Is there anything else bothering you at the moment?

This question is ideal for cross-selling, and it also gives patients permission to talk about the things they often consider too insignificant for a doctor’s visit or put off getting advice about. Perhaps they’re stressed, perhaps they’re tired, but these are all openings for further questions and conversations, ultimately leading to you solving their problems.

You won’t open many doors for anything too personal at the counter with this question, but it’s great in a private consultation setting.

Are you going anywhere on holiday this year?

Depending on the answer, recommending various vaccines and travel necessities pharmacies offer becomes the natural next step.

Did you know you can get your flu jab here?

A simple question in the run-up to flu season, with an obvious cross-sell.

Utilising leaflets

Many pharmacies utilise leaflet-drops, delivering thousands of leaflets to their catchment area, and people might become aware of the service the pharmacy is promoting.

A more effective use of the leaflets (which you can use additionally if you’re still tied to leaflet drops) is having a small pile of them displayed in a stand on your counter.

Incorporating a leaflet into your conversation about the new service you’re cross-selling helps the patient digest (and perhaps later, remember) what you’re talking about.

P.S. Need a leaflet designing? Check out the Pain-Free Pharmacy Poster & Leaflet Designs in our shop.

Incentivising pharmacy employees increases pharmacy sales

It’s amazing how money incentivises people. And this type of incentive works wonders in the pharmacy.

We’ve seen service sales skyrocket in pharmacies by those who have employed such tactic. One such pharmacy incentivised their team to earn:

  • £5 for every patient that they got to leave a review for a pharmacy online
  • £10 for every patient that they got to sign up to the weight management service

We couldn’t believe the numbers of Google reviews rolling in and their sales on weight management medicines i.e. Saxenda, steadily rose.

The more you incentivise your pharmacy team, the more they’ll work for the results you want. From your perspective, getting 50% of an increase in profit is better than 100% of no increase.

A real-world pharmacy application

Let’s take a classic example. A patient comes in for some sunscreen.

This is a great chance to spark a conversation:

HCA – “Are you going anywhere nice?” 

Customer – “We’re off to Morocco”

HCA“Oh lovely! Where about are you going? Have you considered…”

  • Travel Vaccinations, such as Hep A, Tetanus, Rabies
  • Diarrhoea capsules and hydration sachets
  • Antihistamines
  • Moquito repellant
  • First aid kit

Every conversation can lead to better care for our patients and more revenue.

Your Attitude Matters

There’s a big difference between an insightful observation of someone’s needs and a generic recommendation that they probably overheard you giving the person before them in the queue.

One has a far higher likelihood of increasing pharmacy sales, and the other is arguably more damaging than it is useful.

Don’t diminish your reputation for profit

Telling everyone there’s a bar of Dairy Milk on offer for a pound might fly in WHSmith’s. But as a pharmacy, your word is your bond and requires nurturing. We’re healthcare professionals, not a general shop. Save your recommendations and advice for healthcare topics.

What should I cross-sell?

Whilst the answer to this question is generally, “whatever is relevant for the patient”, we think it’s important for Community Pharmacies to focus on healthcare.

It’s also largely situational for your specific services, the advantages your pharmacy holds, and where your focus is at any one time.

Think Prescription Collection Points, Late Night Pharmacies, clinics, whatever you’re currently under-subscribed for.

Have a focus, but remain flexible

At restaurants, waiting staff recommendations are usually the food where they’ve got loads of stock running out of date.

Now, I’m definitely not suggesting you start pushing nearly expired medicines on people! But it is worth thinking about what your next big push is. Is it shifting people onto EPS, is it filling up your Flu Clinic? Your larger business strategy should guide your upselling approach.

Just remember, remaining flexible, open and inquisitive ensures you’re always helping the patient.

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SEO: Pharmacy’s Missing Secret Weapon

In this presentation delivered at The Pharmacy Show in 2021, Saam talks about how Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can help plant your private services on the first page of Google and drive significant revenue from them

 

SEO_ Pharmacy’s Missing Secret Weapon

The presentation has been transcribed below:

 

Slide 2

That graph represents the most remarkable story for a particular independent pharmacy up in Scotland.

Can you see that red arrow there…that’s when I still classed the business as a pharmacy back in May 2020.

Its private service offering was doing well but like most other pharmacies, its bread and butter were prescriptions.
But fast forward to today, I can no longer call this business a pharmacy. A more accurate description would be along the lines of:

Slide 3

“Hollistic Primary Healthcare Hub”

Let that slide sink in for a second.

Look at how the private service offering today now dwarves its NHS services, and look at the variety there. Not only can you get your prescription, but this “pharmacy” can also help you:

  • Get your yellow fever vaccine before you travel
  • Remove that excess build-up of wax in your ears
  • Feel more energetic with a Vitamin B12 injection
  • Clear up your chest infection with antibiotics through its private GP offering
  • Access a dentist immediately to help with your persistent toothache
  • Help you lose weight via the most powerful POM treatment on the market

And much, much more…

It truly is a one-stop-shop for many of your healthcare needs.

Slide 4

Whatsmore, this business is absolutely thriving financially. The private service side is generating more revenue than its NHS side, and much more profit. Prescriptions have become their secondary source of income. They are now working on automating more of their prescription journey so that profits can improve on that side too.

Slide 5

For me, that’s the future of Community Pharmacy. Automating the prescription journey as much as possible and focussing on the provision and growth of clinical services.

Not only will you be building more avenues of revenue, but you’re stepping away from the mundane tasks of checking prescriptions towards a more fulfilled holistic service approach, and improving access to healthcare in your area.

This kind of opportunity exists for all pharmacies around the Nation. It’s how your gonna survive and massively thrive.

Slide 6

Now, getting to this position requires that you innovate and think about your business in a different way.

There are many factors that you have to consider, such as:

  • Getting trained to provide these services in the first place
  • Making sure you have the right resource levels to deliver
  • You’ve developed strong SOP’s , and so on.

Essentially, you need to be in a position to be able to deliver these services well to your patients.

But aside from delivery, you will not get towards the success levels of this pharmacy without the right digital infrastructure around your services, and investing in marketing. And in terms of marketing, one of the secret weapons to driving 100’s of clinic bookings every month is Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO.

SEO is what I’m gonna talk about primarily in this session. It is the most underutilised marketing tactic in pharmacy but one that offers the biggest opportunity, and I firmly believe it can change the landscape of Clinical Community Pharmacy.

Slide 7

So just before we get into the juicy world of SEO, a little bit about me. I’m a pharmacist..have been for the last 14 yrs, and I’ve managed all sizes of pharmacy businesses, from large chain multiples to the single independent.

But for the last 8 years, I’ve been building websites and marketing digitally, two things which I absolutely adore doing. So much so, I ended up building Pharmacy Mentor, which is a specialist marketing and development agency, for pharmacies.

Now, of all the marketing channels that I know, SEO has always been my fave.

But, also I know how business-changing SEO can be. And it’s one of the main reasons Pharmacy Mentor gets business…if you take your phone out now open chrome and type either of the words “Pharmacy Marketing” or “Pharmacy Website Design” – you’ll see PM right at the top there, just below the Ads. That’s SEO. I want people to find our company for those specific keywords.

Slide 8

So what is Search Engine Optimisation exactly?

In the words of the SEO guru himself, Neil Patel, he describes SEO as “the process of taking steps to help a website or piece of content rank higher on Google.”

So, just from that definition there, we know we need a website or content online to make this work.

Slide 9

To take it a bit further, SEO is all about ranking higher on Google organically and not paying Google to be at the top.

Now, this bit is really important to understand. SEO involves optimising a piece of digital content so that when someone searches for something in particular, in a search engine like Google, that piece of content shows up towards the top of the results.

You can always pay for Advertising space to drive traffic immediately. However, if you can get there without paying for Ads, you’re gonna yield a much stronger return on investment and it will be much more cost-effective for you in the long run.

Slide 10

To help you understand this visually, take a look at the following slide. Let’s say you’re a pharmacy owner, which in this audience, most of you probably are, and you’re looking for some help to grow your EPS numbers. You’ve heard from a friend of yours that another pharmacy grew their item numbers quite successfully by doing a mailshot in their area. So, you decide to do some research into it.

You log onto Google, and you search for something like “mailshot service pharmacy” or “mailshot for a pharmacy”, for example.

Get your phone out now and try it yourselves now if you can log onto Google.

Right at the top there, you can see company’s paying for that Ad space and are getting charged every time someone clicks on the link. This is Pay Per Click.

But, right underneath this, you can see a page for our company that has been optimised for those keywords. We don’t pay to be there and we don’t pay every time someone clicks on the link. And of course, out of all of those options on the slide there, you’re gonna click on our link because it talks to you so perfectly. “Let’s drive prescription numbers” – Yes, please – click! And because of this article and the way that it speaks to pharmacy owners on Google, we get business from it.

That’s SEO in action right there.

Now the thing is, this pharmacy owner had never heard of Pharmacy Mentor before today. They would have never have typed the words “Pharmacy Mentor” into Google.

Slide 11

Rather, pharmacy owners are looking for the services they require on Google and that’s how our company gets found. Over the years, we’ve optimised content for 100’s of pharmacy owner specific keywords and as a result, we obtain 10,000’s of page views every month that is super targeted for our audience.

Slide 12

Also, incredibly interestingly, with Google’s Keyword Planner, I can check what kind of monthly search volume each keyword has which will help me work out which of them I should focus on more than others.
And this can even be location-specific. So, for example, if I wanted to find out how many searches were made for the keyword “pharmacy websites” in Manchester, I can view that data.

Slide 13

So, how does all this translate for your business?

What keywords should you guys be focussing on?

And what do you then do with those keywords?

Slide 14

Well, the best place to start off when trying to find these is to follow the basic formula that you can see on the screen right there.

That formula, although very simple looking, is worth hundreds of thousands every year to a pharmacy, especially one that offers private clinics. And I’m not exaggerating in the slightest here.

Now, it’s worth mentioning that there really isn’t a limit to the number of keywords you can target. There are 100’s, if not 1000’s of them of various lengths and combinations, and that’s one of the reasons SEO is a never-ending game. You can’t really run out of SEO and I’ll talk more about the other reasons why a tad later.

Slide 15

So, following this formula:

1. Firstly, make a list of all the services and products you really want to push and make more money from:

  • NHS and Private Prescriptions
  • Flu vaccineTravel Clinic
  • Yellow fever vaccineMeningitis Vaccine (Hajj and Umrah)
  • Malaria TabletsAesthetics Clinic
  • Botox
  • Lip fillers
  • Vampire Facial

2. List the geographical locations you want to target

3. Begin developing the keyword list using the formula above:

So, understanding the services I want to promote and where my target audience are, some of these would be:

  • Yellow fever vaccine Warrington
  • Flu Vaccine Warrington
  • Lip fillers Warrington

And so on.

So as you can see there, I’m now starting to create a list of top-level, highly powerful keywords for my business.

So let’s say I’ve made a list of 20 keywords and I’ve checked on Google’s keywords planner that they are in fact being searched for by people in my area.

What now?

Slide 16

Well, it’s time for me to start creating content. I need to get some content up online and I need to optimise it for the keywords I’ve just listed. That’s where my website comes into play.

So, how do you optimise content exactly?

I’ve only got a short time with you guys today, I can’t go into the full details of optimisation, because it’s technical and extensive.

There is so much you can do to make your content appear higher in search results, but the two things I should mention for now are the following:

  • Make sure you create and optimise an entire page for each service and keyword that you want to target, and blog consistently every month.
  • The more content you can create…

If you get these two nailed, you can expect to begin driving tonnes more traffic to your website, hence revenue and profit.

But like I said before, SEO is a never ending game. My advice of creating optimised content on your website through service pages and blogging represents about 20% of the vast universe that SEO is. Site Speed, SSL certificates, site maps and metadata to mention a few all play a role in ranking your content higher. But the real reason you can’t run out is the world of backlinks and off-page SEO.

Slide 17

So, going back to the formula and on-page optimisation, this is exactly the strategy we executed when working with this pharmacy I showed you at the start. We took care of a lot of technical SEO for them naturally, which I’ll remind you is very important, but we followed the same formula I described before.

We developed a keyword and content strategy for them and got to work creating optimised content on the website.

The graph shows how many website link clicks and how many people have viewed those links on Google since May 2020 last year.

Now, I can’t deny that Covid helped our cause a lot in this scenario but it’s the optimised content that we have developed, and continue doing so, that has caused the increase you can see here.

You see, COVID accelerated digital behavioural change. People became glued to their phones and began looking for services and products near them at a level never seen before in human history. People didn’t know what was open or closed and people had to do their research via Google.

For this particular pharmacy, COVID testing services, ear wax removal, phlebotomy and private GP proved to be hugely popular keywords in their area.

If you have a look at that green box there, it tells you that over the period of this time, we developed 70,000 website clicks and over 2 million people have seen these links on Google. Purely organically. That’s a mind blowing result.

That’s why this pharmacy is generating £millions of pounds in revenue every year from private services, and the more work we do for them in terms of SEO, the more they will make.

And that’s really why I can no longer class this business as a pharmacy.

Slide 18

So, how do you get started?

Well, of course, you can try to find the time to learn how to do all of this yourself and if you do want to, I’ve popped some really useful links there to help get you started.

But, your pharmacy owners. And that means you haven’t got much time.

So the best thing for you to do would be to find a freelancer or an agency that specialise in SEO to do it for you.

But remember, first and foremost, you need a good, solid website to begin developing the optimised content on, and you need to develop a content keyword strategy to work from.

And lastly, this is a long-term strategy designed to develop traffic and revenue over time. It’s important to note that you’re not going to see results immediately. It takes time for Google and other search engines to index the content you create and it’s not certain how long this can take. It may take a week to index, or 3 months. Plus, we need to keep on top of how Google is altering their bots and algorithms at all times.

But you have to start somewhere and if you’re offering private services, the marketing channel that I would be focussing on is SEO.

Slide 19

My name’s Saam and we’d love to talk to you about how wwe can help your pharmacy business succeed.


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Digitise your Prescribing Clinic & Revolutionise your Pharmacy

In this presentation, delivered at The Pharmacy Show 2022, Saam will show you how you can turn your PGD or Independent Prescribing status into £10,000’s per month. He shows you what digital tools, mechanisms and formulas you need to adopt to make it work.

 

 

The presentation has been transcribed below:

Slide 2

After she said those words and shot me down in front of a room full of people, I did something that would change the course of my life forever.

I got up, adjusted my tie, and said “I won’t do this anymore”. And walked out.

That was the last meeting I ever had with them, back in 2012.

I was working for one of the big corps and I had a very well-paid job. But towards the end of my time there, it felt like I was wearing a straight jacket to work instead of a suit jacket.

I had so many ideas for growth, but they just didn’t get listened to. I understood, of course. It’s tough to get anything through the big corporate red tape.

But I needed to grow.

And the only way I could do that was to break free and personally innovate.

Slide 3

As much as I love the NHS, I see it as a bit of a straight jacket for Community Pharmacy.

It’s very restrictive.

The market for prescriptions is heavily saturated, you’re getting paid less, and you don’t set the prices.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t focus on driving item numbers – it’s always gonna be part of your business model.

But, I’m sure you’ll agree, things a getting tighter.

But because you’re an Independent Pharmacy where no red tape exists and where you make the decisions about where your business goes, there are no boundaries like I had all those years ago.

You’ve got room to innovate.

And that tightening NHS grip can loosen if you put more time and energy into offering private clinical services.

It’s incredible what pharmacies can offer today.

And, with the help of the brilliant companies in this expo, you can become, I believe, the most powerful, diverse health hub in your city.

There’s so much potential for growth down this route.

Slide 4

Yet, like my store manager all those years back, I’m still hearing these sentences from time to time.

The way of the NHS has been a habit.

But these comments don’t stand any more, and here’s why…

Slide 5

I’ve broken it down into chunks:

  • Your sphere of Influence
  • The Boom in Private and Digital Healthcare
  • How our behaviour has now altered
  • Your ease of access to training
  • Revenue Potential
  • And Digital Marketing

Slide 6

When you go down the clinical route, your sphere of influence as a business grows significantly.

Traditionally, with the NHS dispensing model, you cater to the people who live within the 1 to 2-mile radius around you.

However, if you start offering a Travel Clinic, a Weight Management Clinic or an Ear Wax Removal clinic for example, you’ve immediately expanded your target audience to cover the entire city.

This is what we need to understand.

People are willing to travel much greater distances for these services, meaning you’ve 10 times’d your sphere of influence.

Slide 7

If I open Google Maps and type in the word “Pharmacy”, I get a load of pharmacies pop up, naturally.

It’s saturated.

However, if I type the keywords “Travel Clinic” or “Weight Loss Clinic”, less than a handful of clinics pop up and none of them are pharmacies.

Question: Do we have any pharmacy owners from Sheffield in the audience today?

Because if I was that pharmacy owner from Sheffield, I’d go home after this show and work out how I’m going start delivering a Travel and Obesity Clinic.

Then, I’d optimise them so well online that I’d literally sink the competition that I can see on there.

My clinics would show up first with 100’s of reviews on them, and I’d be making a fortune.

That’s how unsaturated this market is still.

Once again, my target audience is the city, not just S10.

Slide 8

The pandemic has also helped private healthcare boom over the last couple of years.

More people are looking for alternative ways to get better because the NHS is so rammed and people prefer to pay to get better quicker.

Slide 9

And many of these private entities are online too. Now is as good a time as ever to get in on this growing space.

Slide 10

Our digital behaviour has changed too. We’ve become supercharged digital users.

The stats there that should glow for a local pharmacy is that…

  • “Near me” searches for healthcare services have doubled since 2015.
  • And roughly 97% of people who use online search, look for local businesses.

They are very powerful indicators of the opportunity that is in front of a clinic service-oriented pharmacy.

Slide 11

It’s also easier to get started delivering private services.

More of us are becoming independent prescribers, and firms, like PharmaDoctor, make it super easy for us to begin supplying POMs under a PGD.

TympaHealth, another fabulous company, allows you to provide an ear clinic in your pharmacy.

Medicheks allows you to supply blood testing kits.

And Nurokor means you can operate a pain clinic in-store.

Essentially, you have the opportunity to become a complete health hub in your community, which…

Slide 12

Can generate a shed tonne of new revenue for you.

Take a look at this pharmacy for example. They offer a plethora of services, including a Travel Clinic, a Private GP, Blood Testing and Vitamin B12 injections.

The graph you can see is website traffic over time. They reached an all-time high between 2021 and 2022, achieving 5000 website page views a day at one point, and they were generating over £100,000 a month from their private services alone.

The way I see prescriptions now is not about the money you make from them under the NHS.

I see them as a vehicle for converting those patients into private service customers.

Slide 13

And that’s where digital marketing comes into play – which is the way you’re going to drive as much revenue from them as possible.

It’s time to think of your NHS patient database as a pool of clients you can upsell to.

If you’ve got 5000 patients on your PMR system, you have to get them enrolled onto your website.

And even better, WhatsApp or an email marketing solution, so you can communicate with them directly.

But that’s only 5000 people.

Remember earlier, I talked about how your sphere of influence has increased – we’ve got another 500,000 people we can potentially service.

So we need to think about SEO, Paid Ads and Social Media to communicate to those. I’ll come onto these later.

But firstly, if you’re prescribing POMs, or you’re delivering any other clinic, you’ve got to think about how you can digitise them.

Why?

So that you can make it as convenient as possible for the patient to use the service.

Making it digital reduces the administrative burden for yourselves, and ultimately increases conversions.

That’s what I’m going to talk about now.

Slide 14

To demonstrate this, we’re going to focus on the following services that are in growing trend and popularity:
Prescribing POMs as an IP or through a PGD

And, what I’ve termed the more “Invasive Clinics” where you have to get more involved, such as a travel clinic or ear wax removal service.

Slide 15

As an IP, or if you’re working with a private doctor, you can offer all types of POMs, whether it be under the condition of Asthma, UTIs or Migraines, for example.

To make it as easy as possible for the patient to begin their consultation with you, you must digitise it.

And the best way to do this is through your website.

 

Digitise your Prescribing Clinic & Revolutionise your Pharmacy - PS 2022

 

Slide 16

That’s why we had to build a solution for it.

Following a digital consultation, a patient can pay for their medicines online and collect them in your pharmacy, or have them delivered.

Let me give you a short tour of it right now…

Slide 17

A patient can select the condition that they are wanting to treat and learn about the treatments available under that condition.

Slide 18

They’ll then be able to begin a consultation via a risk assessment form online or by booking in for a virtual meeting with you.

Slide 19

This where you ask the questions required for supplying the medicine.

As an IP, you’re able to add and edit as many questions as you want, to make them unique to you.

Slide 20

Following the consultation, the patient can then choose which medicine they prefer to purchase.

Slide 21

They’ll then go through the checkout process where they can choose whether they want to collect in the pharmacy, or have it delivered.

And finally, they’ll be able to pay for the medicine online.

Slide 22

As a patient, I can access my personal dashboard and understand where my order is at in the process, and I can message the pharmacy directly too.

It doesn’t really get any easier than that as a consumer, and that patient pathway is in line with the current GPhC guidance.

Slide 23

Now as an IP, you’ll be notified of the order via email and you’ll see the order come through in the back of the system.

This is where you have to decipher if you’re happy with the consultation that’s just happened.

This is a very important step, and you have to be confident that the medicine they have selected is suitable for supply.

The GPhC are increasingly asking for evidence of intervention at this stage – so you have to make sure you can show it.

Slide 24

If you’re happy with everything, then you can approve the consultation.

This will automatically generate a private prescription for you, so you can dispense it.

That’s how you digitise your IP clinic and you can now service the entire UK if you wish with that system.

Slide 25

If you’re offering POMs through a PGD, you can use a variation of the system I’ve just shown you.

However, it also does depend on the PGD that you’re using, and it must comply with the regulation set by it.

Slide 26

But, as an example, let’s look at Norethisterone, which is a common treatment given under a PGD, for period delay.

Firstly, make sure you’ve got content on your website about it, whether that’s through a page or a blog.

But then you’ve got a few options about how your patient interacts with you.

If the PGD supplier has their own online portal, which a lot of them do, then we can redirect them to that system.

Alternatively, they may be able to go through the Ultimate PM software, which I’ve just shown you.

Or, the patient can access a booking calendar where several things can happen before dispensing:

Slide 27

They can book in to speak with the pharmacist virtually

You could ask them a series of questions, just as a risk assessment does

And you can take payment for the medication online before they pick up the medicine in-store

The virtual world is pretty boundaryless.

There’s loads of ways you can digitise the process but the way you do it depends on how you’re offering it.

Slide 28

So what about the more invasive clinics where you have to do a physical examination, injection or procedure?

Slide 29

Well, for some of them, I would always build a separate website around that particular service, and connect it to my main website.

That’s primarily because of the demand and search volume around them, and how much money you can make from it.

If you’re looking to really dominate your city, I would always create a separate website for your:

  • Travel Clinic
  • Weight Management
  • Ear Wax Removal
  • Aesthetics

I’d arrange the websites to be sub-sites, with links in between all of them, to maximise SEO, which I’ll get onto in a minute.

Slide 30

The next thing I need to consider is an online booking system. I touched on this just now.

Slide 31

And I’d always have a live chat system connected so that I can talk to my patients directly.

I’d also install a solution, such as Mailchimp, where I’m building a patient database.

That right there, is an immense, beautiful, digital, revenue-generating, sustainable clinical pharmacy ecosystem that can revolutionise your business.

Slide 32

But, once you get your digital base set up, it doesn’t right stop there.

We need to get people to find these services online, so we need to market ourselves.

So, what’s the best way of doing this?

Slide 33

Let’s split this into internal marketing and external marketing.

Internal being the patient base you already have, such as those on your PMR system and those people that walk into your pharmacy.

And external being those people who don’t know your pharmacy or services exist as yet.

Slide 34

If you’re an established Pharmacy and you already have a patient database in your PMR, that’s the first move you’ve got to consider.

They are your patients already, and they trust you. Trust is the biggest influencer in using a service.

So you’ve got to find a way to communicate with them digitally.

Also, get large, bright TV screens inside your pharmacy and the shop windows.

And, very importantly, get your team trained up and involved in the services.

Make them champions for particular clinics, and even incentivise them for getting people to sign up.

This can make a huge difference.

Slide 35

So that’s internal. What about external?

How are you going to influence them?

Well firstly, you’ve got to understand how people are searching for these services, and work from there.

Question: Any idea where people might be looking?

Yep, you guessed it. Google.

You have to start dominating this search engine locally.

And the two best ways of doing this is through SEO and Paid Advertising.

In last years’ Show, I dedicated a whole session on SEO. It is truly business changing and cannot be ignored when offering private clinics.

There’s loads of information on our website about it, and I’ve popped a link to a great guide on there, that you can read later.

But to get to the top of Google immediately, whether that’s on Search or Maps, it’s all about Google Ads.

Again, I’ve popped a link on there to a comprehensive guide.

It’s a massively powerful tactic, but it’s important to know that Google have clamped down on advertising POMs and pharmacy-related services.

It’s because of the nature of the content. So you do need to tread carefully and that’s why LegitScript on there too.

This certification helps legitimise your business for the giant advertising platforms out there, like Facebook and Google.

And of course, we can’t forget about Social Media too, the best way to generate engagement in your Community.

Post about the services you’re offering, but make the posts as engaging as possible!

It’s pretty saturated, so you really need to cut through the noise with excellent content.

Slide 36

Video.

People want to see a video of their local pharmacist talking about these services and it’s the ultimate way to build trust.

As well as the biggies out there like Facebook, Insta and Google Business, it’s well worth exploring TikTok now too.

Slide 37

So, how do you get started?

Well, the first thing you need to do is to seek help.

You can’t do this on your own, and that’s why you have the amazing organisations in this expo today.

But the important first step is delivery.

You’ve got to make sure that you can deliver on the ground and give great customer service

And following that, a digital strategy needs to be developed that can be embedded into what you’re offering.

Whoever you work with, it’s important that they understand your business through and through.

Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time explaining what your business is and how it works.

Slide 38

But it all comes back to mindset and innovation, and a strong drive to change and evolve.

One of the big blockers in pharmacy today is time.

So you need to think about how you can release more of it to be able to head in this direction.

Are you ready to go beyond the boundaries of the NHS?

Are you ready to step into private clinical territory?

And are you ready to digitise with it and revolutionise your pharmacy.

Slide 39

My names Saam and thank you so much for listening.


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marketing ehc & ed in pharmacy
Emergency Contraception & Erectile Dysfunction services are such important services, providing care to people in vulnerable situations. But navigating ethics, regulations, and public perceptions when promoting these services is tricky.

Marketing Emergency Hormone Contraception and Erectile Dysfunction (EHC & ED) is important to get right. Not only does it help deliver care and change lives for the people in your community, but marketed correctly, these services help keep your business profitable and sustainable.

So let’s take a look at effectively marketing your ED & EHC services in 5 simple steps.

1. Sensitivity first

As a pharmacist, you don’t need me telling you that Erectile Dysfunction & Emergency Hormone Contraception are both sensitive services from a patient’s perspective. Discretion, judgement free delivery of these services is a must. And whilst neutrality is one thing, compassion also goes a long way.

You probably manage your services in this way – but not everyone does. Patients may have previous bad experiences, so make your pharmacy’s approach clear.

Remember: your entire pharmacy team needs to be 100% sure on how to manage these patient experiences. Semi-regular briefings help keep everyone on the same page.

2. Perfect Patient Experience

Other than your pharmacy team’s conduct, there are ways of providing a service which your community values.

The main things they value with both services are discretion, safety and effectiveness.

That’s one of the main draws of the direct online route – people ideally want complete privacy.

Whilst you might not win over every single patient who might’ve otherwise gone online, providing an environment promoting privacy gives a convenient alternative.

Consider offering at least one of the following:

  • A Pharmacy Messenger/WhatsApp channel for patients to communicate through.
  • Online booking facilities for private consultation rooms.
  • Video Consultations

3. Advertising Do’s & Don’t’s for EHC & ED

As per medicine advertising guidelines, you cannot directly advertise Prescription-Only Medicines (POM’s). It’s good practice to promote the service or condition you’re treating rather than the medicine itself.

  • DO
  • DO show sensitivity in your wording of any advertising of your service
  • DO make use of Local SEO & Sponsored Social Media Ads to advertise your service.
  • DO make sure you aren’t violating terms and conditions when using Facebook & Google.
  • DO Ask Pharmacy Mentor for advice if you aren’t sure.
  • DON’T
  • DON’T Include ED or EHC in any discounts or special offers. This makes patients feel like you’re charging more than you could ordinarily.
  • DON’T Advertise POM’s directly. Always advertise the condition or service.
  • DON’T forget your pharmacy reputation is affected by the style of your advertising, for better or worse.
  • DON’T try to compete on price – compete on service and trust instead.

Making your EHC & ED Services get clicks on Google

There are two stages of getting clicks on Google.

The first is appearing on Google in the first place. But we’ll cover that in the next section.

But let’s say that, either through publishing relevant content on your website, or paying to appear on Google through Google Advertising you appear on Google, like in this image below.

google results for ehc pill

How do you ensure your website is the one that gets clicked, instead of your competition?

Put your USP in your headline

Your opening line on anything promoting your service is like a headline of a newspaper. Grabbing your audience immediately is the name of the game, but it requires balance, so you aren’t perceived as clickbait or spammy, especially on sensitive subjects like ED & EHC.

There’s limited space for your headlines, so prioritising is key.

What is your main USP? The reason your consumers choose you over your competitors? Those should be in your headline.

The Superdrug advert below does a good job with “No Doctors Visit Required.” This addresses a concern of their target market (convenience) and therefore speaks more directly to them than other Ads.

google results for morning after pill near me

For Community Pharmacy, your USP might be safety and professional advice in-person. Or it might be that patients can collect immediately without waiting for delivery.

For patients who don’t want to leave their home, consider offering a video consultation.

Remember, this headline is solely about getting the click. Once the patient has clicked on your headline, this can link to a webpage with much more information. You don’t have to put everything about your service in the headline.

Promoting Your Service through Social Media Adverts (Paid)

Social Media (especially paid advertising through social media) is a great place to promote private services. Especially ones that people often delay treatment for, such as Erectile Dysfunction.

However, sensitivity is once again paramount.

Avoid profiling. Social Media sites terms and conditions prohibits negative profiling in social media copy.

You can restrict EHC marketing to women and ED to men – but you can’t specify your target audience using your copy – this is profiling.

Examples of Adverts that Meta (formerly Facebook) Will & Won’t Accept:

An example of unacceptable profiling in a Meta Ad:

Are you a young, nervous woman who needs the Morning After Pill?

Middle-aged and struggling with ED?

The phrasing of “young & nervous” makes the person reading the advert feel targeted. And whilst that’s acceptable for some forms of advertising, when it comes to sensitive subjects like EHC, ED & Weight Loss, it’s prohibited.

Also avoid words like “struggling” as it paints a negative light and Meta doesn’t want their users feeling negatively whilst using their Instagram & Facebook.

Example of acceptable Meta Ad copy:

Need professional, confidential advice about the Morning After Pill?

Get professional, medical support for ED and feel your best self!

 

Difficulties in advertising – don’t get banned

It’s becoming increasingly difficult for pharmacies to advertise online at all without LegitScript.

Companies like Meta & Google were previously pretty lax on advertising around medicine. But since the pandemic, with an increase in illegitimate drugs being sold online, their regulations are far stricter. Pharmacies have found themselves permanently banned from advertising for advertising in a way previously deemed fine.

Not sure if you need LegitScript Certification?

Talk to Pharmacy Mentor and we’ll discuss whether you need certification based on your advertising activity.

4. Providing Information & Guidance Online

As a pharmacist, you’re the most convenient source of trusted healthcare advice in your local community.

It’s this advice which is what direct online solutions cannot offer, and it’s what increases your market share, promoted correctly. One of the biggest concerns with emergency contraception, as an example, is safety. People feel reassured having a qualified professional in front of them telling them it’s safe.

google questions about ehc

However, giving guidance online is important. People typing in these questions in your local area finding you as the source of the answer means more patients. Younger people especially search for advice online before seeking it elsewhere. Creating content for your website around both EHC & ED means when your community searches these questions, you appear with answers.

Once they visit your site for the answers, you simply guide them towards your pharmacy for their treatment.

Whilst many pharmacy services are seasonal, Emergency contraception & Erectile Dysfunction demand is consistent through the year, meaning a stable source of revenue for your pharmacy.

google trends for marketing ehc & ed

5. A New Way to Serve Your Community

For Community Pharmacy, your competition, as usual, is Online Direct Suppliers, offering convenience (not having to leave the house) as their USP with same-day or next-day delivery.

With our Independent Prescribing Website Add-on, you can rival this service. Take orders, payments and approve online risk-assessment forms. This process saves you time by automating all the administrative processes, gives you an audit trail, and lets you focus on care.

After that, encouraging the patient to collect in the pharmacy is the best port-of-call, as you can then give them the advice they need with the meds. We even built a specific “Pay Now, Collect-In-Store” option for Community Pharmacy.

To request a Live Demo of this type of website in action, please use that link and get in touch.

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pharmacy automation: what you need to know - with a robot pushing a cardboard box
Pharmacy automation has existed since the 1960’s, yet full automation is still a long way away for most pharmacies. Automation comes in many different forms, and whilst most articles cover one form or another, this article covers all bases.

Pharmacy Automation includes:

  • Websites
  • Dispensing Robots
  • Digital Displays
  • PMR Systems
  • Prescription Reordering Apps
  • Electronic CD Registers
  • Prescription Collection Points
  • Pharmacy Management Systems

Get your automating ducks in a row.

Answering the most asked questions around Pharmacy Automation

What does automating mean for a pharmacy?

Automating in a pharmacy isn’t just about robots taking over. It means taking repetitive tasks and devising a way to achieve the same outcome without human input. In the industrial age, that meant human redundancies. In pharmacy, that means the staff trained for patient care are now released from the shackles of these administrative tasks. Rather than redundant, they’re released for valuable tasks instead of functional tasks.

Does automating mean fewer employees in the pharmacy?

No. Automations typically means your staff can spend more time on value-adding tasks that can’t be automated, such as customer service and patient care.

How many team members do you know that love being in the back room with no windows? Your pharmacy team will almost certainly be happier out in the front, assisting and helping the people in their community. And improving that care leads to higher revenue through cross-selling, and the ability to spend time on private clinical services. Meaning you could even employ more team members.

Can the role of a pharmacist be automated?

No. A pharmacist is still needed for their medical judgment and expertise, as well as patient consultations. However, a pharmacist’s life can be made considerably easier with automation. Instead of spending their valuable time on administrative tasks, they can be freed up to spend all their time doing what they do best.

Which is the best pharmacy automation to start with?

The best place to automate your pharmacy is wherever you and your team are spending the most time.

Typically, that will be around prescriptions. But are you spending more time on the phone than you are dealing with the prescriptions? Or would you have more time to answer the phone if you weren’t so busy counting pills and updating CD registers?

Well, the feedback we get from pharmacies suggests that the majority of phone calls they receive are around prescriptions. Specifically, patients asking when their prescriptions will be ready to collect. There are numerous ways to automate prescriptions.

Adding an automated phone message when people call your pharmacy

e.g., “Thank you for calling our pharmacy. If you’re calling to find out when your prescription is ready, please download our app/send us an email, where we will get back to you as soon as possible.”

Dispensing Robots

This is a big one if you have a big prescription business. So much so, it’s probably the go-to thing pharmacists would think of when you say the phrase “pharmacy automation.”

A dispensing robot is invaluable not only in saving you time on dispensing, but also in reducing errors.

If you have a village pharmacy where the amount of prescriptions isn’t a huge drain on your team’s time, it’s probably the case that your resources are best spent elsewhere. But if you’re dispensing multiple thousands of prescriptions? It’s window-shopping for robots time.

How do websites automate pharmacy?

Websites have the potential to automate almost every administrative element of pharmacy. Of course, the limitation is budget.

Websites can integrate with just about any software with the right amount of development, but there’s a sweet spot when it comes to balancing affordability with functionality.

And for that reason, I won’t go too deep into the potential. We’ll focus instead on what most pharmacies can achieve with a website when it comes to automating.

Automating Medicine Sales & Clinical Bookings

Websites don’t only automate processes for you, they also automate for your patients. Instead of having to visit the pharmacy to collect medication (which doesn’t really make sense for a sick person when you think about it), the entire journey can be completed online – even down to risk assessment.

Below is an excerpt from our article on How to Build An Online Independent Prescribing Clinic – and it shows how the process of evaluating suitability for POM’s & P-line medicines can be done entirely by the patient, meaning you only have to sign it off.

“For example, a patient ordering Treclin for acne through your website will be prompted to start an online consultation. They’re then taken step-by-step through a comprehensive consultation – just like you’d take them through in the pharmacy. Questions don’t become answerable until the last one is completed, ensuring 100% accuracy. But this is an example user journey, not the only one. It depends on how the GPhC sees this as regulatorily sound.”

Independent Prescriber websites

A megamenu from a Pharmacy Mentor website for an Independent Prescriber

For clinical services, your patient can book, pay for and fill out a pre-assessment questionnaire, all on a pharmacy website. That means the sole focus of the appointment is patient care and treatment.

This process is so appealing for a prospective patient that if you’re the only pharmacy around offering this convenience, you’ll begin amassing patients. Which, with your system automated, won’t put the strain that an increased volume of patients would usually bring on your team.

Of course, the opposite is true. Wondering why no one’s signing up for your service? Or why your prescription business is thinning? There might well be a pharmacy with a simpler, automated process amongst your competitors.

Automating Data Collection

How do you ensure when someone visits your pharmacy, or your pharmacy website that they come back again?

By adding them to a mailing list, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to communicate with the people who’ve already chosen your pharmacy once. But since we’re in the business of automating, you can automate that process too. Any visitors to your website can be prompted to sign-up to your mailing list with a pop-up. What you incentivise this with is entirely down to you, be it signing up to EPS, 10% off their next retail purchase, or special email-only offers. The important thing is you can then re-capture the business.

To automate the process for visitors into your pharmacy, you can hand the patient an iPad whilst they wait for their prescriptions (if they’re interested in joining your mailing list of course) with a sign-up form. This is what retail stores do as normal practice now.

Prescription Collection Points – the new ATM?

Prescription Collection Points were niche only a couple of years ago. But that’s the thing about revolutionary tech. It’s all early adopters until they start talking about how much it’s changed their lives.

And Prescription Collection Points have changed pharmacies’ fortunes. Some of the busiest pharmacies in the UK are using Prescription Collection Points (plural) to manage tens of thousands of prescriptions – a volume they can only manage with the Collection Points. And a volume they attracted in part by offering the collection service.

Take a look at this Case Study we developed that harnessed the power of a Prescription Collection Machine.

History repeating itself

It shouldn’t be a surprise. This is the exact same function that banks took decades ago with the introduction of the ATM. At the time, the conventional wisdom was there was no way customers wouldn’t want to see a bank teller to withdraw money from their account. Now, can you imagine preferring queuing in a bank to using an ATM?

Bank staff members were suddenly released from these cash-dispensing jobs, where mistakes in counting were rife, and instead re-allocated to in-depth customer service where they could recommend bank products as solutions to people’s financial problems.

Sound familiar? Replace money with medicine in that last sentence and you’ve got yourself an exact parallel with pharmacy.

You don’t need me telling you that prescriptions are the biggest time sink in pharmacy. So, if you’re automating to free up time, a Prescription Collection Point seems like a pretty good place to start.

Patient Medication Record Systems (PMRs)

PMRs are commonplace in pharmacies, but that’s a bit like saying computers are common in people’s homes. Yes, a computer makes your life easier, but if you’re still running Windows 95 with dial-up Internet, your life is still significantly harder than someone with the latest software on superfast broadband.

PMR systems range from basic medication management software, with clunky interfaces and slow loading times, to state-of-the-art Pharmacy Management Systems which integrate with Dispensing robots and pretty much any healthcare app.

Not all PMRs are created equal.

Upgrading your PMR system is another potential revolutionary moment for your pharmacy team.

Want some guidance on the different PMR systems available? Check out our Ultimate PMR Systems Guide, which explores the offerings from the top providers in the UK.

Automating business admin with Pharmacy Management Systems

What is a Pharmacy Management System?

A pharmacy management system is software providing a digital overview of your organisation. It enables reporting, analysing, and informed management decisions that come as a result.

What is the difference between a Pharmacy Management system (PMS) and a Patient Medication Records System (PMR)?

Think of a pharmacy management system as your digital business assistant. Anything to do with the business side of a pharmacy business is taken care of there. A PMR system is usually for medication management. It focuses on the pharmacy side of a pharmacy business.

Recently, however, the worlds of PMR and PMS are bleeding into each other. Ultimately, it’s all software. And software can be programmed to do whatever you need it to. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that overlap is starting to occur between PMR and PMS providers.

It certainly makes life easier having everything integrated into one central location.

What does a Pharmacy Management System facilitate?

A PMS in Pharmacy can cover pretty much anything you want it to. Often the software is developed bespoke, or for more off-the-shelf solutions you can select module components to build up a system that fits your business model.

So how do Pharmacy Management Systems automate your tasks?

The answer is that running your pharmacy business without a Pharmacy Management system is like running your life without a smart phone. Sure, you could. Historically, we did it with no problem. But, with something right there making so many different things accessible and simple in one place, why would you?

Pharmacy Management Systems bring all aspects of your pharmacy into one digital space, including but not limited to:

  • Stock Levels
  • Sales
  • HR & Training
  • SMS Communications & Patient Data
  • EPS

Digital Displays

How do digital displays automate pharmacy?

First, let’s refresh the notion of what displaying anything in your pharmacy achieves. The purpose of a pharmacy display is to attract attention to communication/promotion.

But what happens when you have multiple things you need to tell your community, or multiple products/services you want to draw their attention to?

This is where the dreaded wall of posters usually rears its oh-so-ugly head.

And where the messages and promotions all drown each other out into one big noise that nobody pays any attention to.

Ok, but what does that have to do with pharmacy automation?

Well, the process of automating your displays conveniently goes hand-in-hand with your objective of communicating effectively, so it’s worth mentioning as an added bonus.

With a digital display, all the messages and promotions you want to display can be added to a playlist (including any social media posts you create.) The playlist then automatically loops each message, giving each and every message its own moment in the spotlight.

Say goodbye to endless pinning up and pulling down posters when they’re no longer relevant. Just relevant, clear communications, whatever season you’re in. It’s smaller automation, but every little helps.

Prescription Reordering Apps

What is a prescription re-ordering app?

A prescription re-ordering app is a bit of software that allows patients who sign up for the app to re-order their repeat prescriptions through the app, either on their desktop or mobile. Traditionally these re-orders would either have to be done over the telephone or in the pharmacy.

How do they help automate my pharmacy?

Short of integrating something similar into your own website and systems, (which as a bespoke project would cost a lot) Prescription Re-ordering Apps are an incredible reliever of the infamous endless phone calls.

Not only does the patient not have to contact the pharmacy over the phone to order the prescription, but they’re also alerted when their prescription is ready for collection/delivery. Patients checking whether their prescription is ready is another major source of phone calls, so automating this frees up your team’s time (and sanity) from answering those calls.

prescription reordering apps on a mobile phone

An example selection of prescription reordering apps as they appear on a user’s phone.

Are all prescription re-ordering apps the same?

No. Just like any other pharmacy software, different providers have different focuses for their apps, and there is no one-size-fits-all. It’s important to consider that the app you select won’t just be used by your team, but by your patients. User-friendliness, or lack of it, will reflect on your business.

I could go into more depth, but we’ve already done that.

We’ve written a guide to some of the top Prescription Re-ordering Apps if you want some more guidance for which app to choose for your pharmacy.

Electronic CD Registers

To stay compliant with the law, you must account for all controlled drugs on your premise, which isn’t news to you.

It probably isn’t news to you either that you can do all this electronically. Or that this is way more efficient than writing everything down, for a number of reasons:

  • Everything is recorded automatically, meaning auditing/paper trails are done instantly by just filtering the relevant data.
  • Fewer mistakes are made, which means less work chasing up errors.
  • Easier mistake rectification. Accidentally dispensed out-of-date medicines? Rather than searching through lots of paper files, you can identify where that medicine has gone at a touch of a button. That said, if you use an Electronic CD register, you probably didn’t dispense out-of-date medicines (though mistakes happen!)
a large cabinet with lots of files

Say goodbye to huge filing systems.

Of course, you must make sure your Electronic CD Register software is compliant, but unless you’re building it yourself, unsurprisingly, most Electronic CD Register software providers in the UK have compliance with the UK law as standard.

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Are you stuck for pharmacy blog post ideas?

Blogs are central to promoting your pharmacy business online. After all, business websites that include a blog have a 434% better chance of ranking highly on search engines like Google.

But if your pharmacy blog only has one entry – “Welcome to our blog”  – you risk losing credibility and it may even harm your Google ranking.

Coming up with healthcare blog ideas is a chore and if you’re a pharmacy owner, you probably don’t have time for writing content.

But consider these statistics on why you need to commit time and resources to your blog:

  • 66% of marketers also use their blog content for their social media posts
  • 81% of people consider blogs to be trusted sources of information
  • 94% of people will share a blog if they think the content is helpful.

Trusted and helpful? That sounds exactly like a community pharmacy.

Getting started, or revitalising an existing blog is a lot easier with these fourteen pharmacy blog post ideas that will last forever:

The 14 Pharmacy Blog Post Ideas which last forever

1. Tips for staying healthy

Get straight down to business and offer some advice on staying healthy. Ideas on maintaining a healthy lifestyle are great, but avoid getting preachy. Other topics could be how to reduce IBS symptoms, common allergy triggers, or avoiding flu this winter (don’t forget to link to your flu jab service).

2. Think seasonal

New Year is weight-loss and quitting smoking, spring is getting travel vaccines for summer holidays. Summer is allergies and sun protection.  Winter is avoiding colds and looking after our elderly.

3. Frequently asked questions

What are those questions you get asked time and time again? Answer them in a blog post!

4. Frequently un-asked questions

What are the questions your customers may be too embarrassed to ask? Such as how do you use a suppository. Answer these in a blog post too.

5. Instructional Vlogs

Take a tour of your pharmacy including your consultation rooms; show where to find the sunscreen or painkillers or demonstrate how to properly use an inhaler. Vlogs can be found on YouTube just as easily (if not more easily) than articles on Google. Because Google owns YouTube, you can often find videos in the results for a search when it’s appropriate. There is a big gap in the market for How-To videos for healthcare, which pharmacists could fill easily and get their pharmacy and products in the spotlight as a result.

The Ultimate Guide to Driving your Pharmacy Business in the Digital Age

Download your FREE copy of “Mastering Digital Pharmacy – The Ultimate Guide to Driving your Pharmacy Business in the Digital Age” now.

6. Pharmacy vs GP

As the pharmacist’s role in the community continues to evolve, patients’ awareness of accessing healthcare can be left behind. So let your customers know when they should visit their GP and when they can come to you instead.

7. A day in the life

Go through a typical shift for different roles within your pharmacy team. How does an early shift compare to an evening or weekend shift?

8. New Services

Offering a new service to patients? How else are they supposed to find out more about it? Write details of the service, why it’s beneficial, and how patients can use it.

9. Customer success stories

Tell the story of a recently treated patient (anonymously, of course.) This could be how you were able to source an out-of-stock medicine or spotting a serious symptom and referring to a hospital.

10. Spotting the signs of…

… someone having a stroke, sepsis, or bad reactions to new medicines.

11. Discuss something controversial

Maybe there is a new wonder drug available or what about the use of medical cannabis? Talk about it, however, remember to present a balanced view.

12. Charity work

Writing about the charity work you do is a great way to show your customers what a friendly and helpful community pharmacy you are. Not only that, but if you let the charity know you’re writing a blog about them, they’ll almost certainly share it with their audience.

13. Staff profiles

You can keep it strictly professional and talk about training, qualifications and career motivation. Or keep it fun with favourite ice cream flavours or whether they prefer cats or dogs.

Include a decent photo too as that will add to the friendliness of your pharmacy team.

14. Myth-busting posts

Quick advice posts that dispel mistakes people often make. For example, “What NOT to do if you burn yourself”, “What to do if you forget to take your prescription” etc.

These catchy titles draw people into your post, and your article can get stuck into the advice.

Your pharmacy blog post ideas need to offer helpful content

Remember what you are trying to achieve with your pharmacy blog post ideas. It’s more than selling services. It’s about building the reputation of being professional, helpful and friendly.

By demonstrating how knowledgeable and helpful you are, you are more likely to:

  • Get social media shares
  • Gain links from other websites
  • Turn web traffic into pharmacy customers

Interested in learning more about how Pharmacy Mentor can help with your digital marketing including blog posts? Contact us here.

Marketing statistics source https://expresswriters.com/blogging-statistics/

There is currently a huge unmet demand for ear and hearing health services in the UK.

With most GPs discontinuing earwax removal services, it has become increasingly hard for patients to access this care on the NHS. Average wait times (pre-Covid19) were approximately 12-16 weeks. However, many patients are now waiting over a year to receive treatment. 

It is vital patients are able to access this type of care because hearing loss causes problems with balance and falls and is known to be the single largest modifiable risk factor for the prevention of dementia.

TympaHealth Clinics

Offering an Ear & Hearing Health service, plugging the gap

Many pharmacies have already expanded their services. Helping support their local communities in accessing ear and hearing healthcare services and reduce the burden on secondary care settings.

The Tympa system is the world’s first, all-in-one hearing health assessment system. It empowers pharmacists to perform HD digital otoscopy, microsuction wax removal, and a hearing screener, in a single 30-minute appointment. What’s more, pharmacists can access remote advice and guidance from Audiologists & ENT specialist surgeons when required. This means you’re never without support if you need it.

Secure Patient Data

All patient records and data are kept in a fully secure digital system. This can be quickly and easily shared via a professional PDF, with ENT surgeons or audiologists, should the patient need onward specialist treatment.

The Tympa service offers a brand-new revenue stream for your pharmacy. Generally, you only need to deliver two appointments per month to cover the cost of the Tympa device. What’s more, the increased footfall within your pharmacy can lead to boosts in cross-selling potential for other ear-related products such as Earol and decongestants.

“We have traditionally been all about dispensing the medicine, and yet now we can dispense care, we can dispense health, we can dispense a better quality of life and that’s an honour to do that. The bottom line is this service is invaluable.
Bernadette Brown – Pharmacy Owner

“Patients are getting more than just ear wax removal, they’re getting an ear check-up, they’re getting a healthcare professional looking in their ear, who can then actually prescribe for them.
Kara McIvor, Pharmacist

The Tympa System is a win-win. Your pharmacy can benefit from increased revenues, and deliver vital ear and hearing health services to your local community. With hearing loss rapidly becoming one of the UK’s top disease burdens – overtaking diabetes and cataracts by 2030 – now is the time for your pharmacy to be at the forefront of ear and hearing healthcare.

ear and hearing health service

The Tympa Health Kit

Want to find out more about bringing TympaHealth services to your local community?

Please contact enquiries@tympahealth.com, and one of our team will be in touch. Or, head to the TympaHealth website to find out more.

Found this article helpful?

A big thanks to TympaHealth for contributing this article, giving our audience some great insights into the benefits of the Tympa Service.

You can find all our articles and subscribe to our mailing list on our website. We’re always helping pharmacy owners to make the most of their pharmacy business with the very best in pharmacy marketing tips and guidance. We’d love to see you join our community!

build your independent prescribing clinic
Independent Prescribing will soon be the standard in pharmacy. (It’s already here, with early adopters already in full swing.). The move is the next logical step in Pharmacy becoming the true gateway for the NHS. And it’s the next logical step for your pharmacy if you’re growing your clinical provisions.

Want to run a pharmacy clinic as an independent prescriber? This guide shows you how to set yourself up in a way that:

  • Makes it easy for patients to find you and book appointments
  • Makes your clinic easier to manage
  • Gives you more time for customer care and less time on admin
  • Gets you good reviews
  • Maximises your profitability to help your pharmacy thrive
  • Works for any specialism you choose as an independent prescriber

want to run a pharmacy clinic as an independent prescriber?

 

Whilst independent prescribers (IPs) can be set up in a wide range of healthcare settings, this article focuses on independent prescribing in a clinical pharmacy setting.

Getting Started: Laying the groundwork

If we’re building a successful model, we need a solid foundation. The element that underpins the entire operation. That foundation is your website. The easiest way to explain the value of a website is thinking of it as the hub in a hub & spoke model. It’s the backbone of all the various points of your operation, including:

  • Capturing patients when they’re looking for a healthcare service
  • Selling POMs and P-medicines
  • Booking appointments
  • Taking Payments
  • Automating the Qualification/pre-consultation stage
  • Recording data to review and analyse
  • Answering FAQ’s so you don’t have to
  • Making sure you’re legally compliant

Your website is your pharmacy, just online. Being online means it never closes, a massive benefit when it comes to convenience.

Review those bullet points. The only part of the entire prescribing journey the website doesn’t cover is consultations/clinic appointments and the supervision of dispensing medicines. It stands to reason that if you’re the only person who can do those things, those things should be your sole focus. The website should take care of the rest.

Now, will there still be phone calls? Naturally. Will there still be issues you have to handle? Sure. But with a proper website, they are anomalies, not the norm.

Getting a proper Independent Prescriber website

Emphasis on the word “proper.” This is the foundation of your prescribing business we’re talking about. Cutting corners is not the way to go. Otherwise, cracks you can paper over become crevices that swallow your revenue. Not only that, you have to be super sharp in that the GPhC will inspect your site and if it’s not built “properly”, they will ask you to shut it down. A major issue if you’ve already generated a tonne of SEO and rank.

Ever heard “this website has caused us so many issues”? It’s all too common with the so-called “cheap” solutions. If you’re creating a car on a budget, it’s the frills you’ll want to cut back on, not the engine.

The engine drives the car forward. Your website will drive your business forward.

The websites we create have in-depth features, created specifically for Independent Prescribing.

For example, a patient ordering Treclin for acne through your website will be prompted to start an online consultation. They’re then taken step-by-step through a comprehensive consultation – just like you’d take them through in the pharmacy. Questions don’t become answerable until the last one is completed, ensuring 100% accuracy. But this is an example user journey, not the only one. It depends on how the GPhC sees this as regulatorily sound.

Independent Prescriber websites

A megamenu taken from a Pharmacy Mentor website for an Independent Prescriber

They agree to a few conditions such as reading the patient info leaflet supplied, the medication is just for them, and that all questions have been answered truthfully.

Only then can they order the medication after signing up to your website (to confirm identity). Crucially, before any medication is supplied, the pharmacist must “approve’ the medication is fit for purpose for that particular person. You can’t cut corners here and you need to be fully confident that you’re supplying the POM ethically and within your own SOPs.

It mirrors the process of a patient visiting your pharmacy. But it’s far more convenient. For both you and them.

These pre-consultations are unique for every service and P-medicines/POMs you provide. Of course, GSLs are able to be ordered without the need for a consultation. For clinical services, it means that the only thing that both you and the patient need to do during the appointment is the treatment itself. Doesn’t that just make you want to breathe a big sigh of relief?

Pharmacy Mentor create these websites tailored specifically for Independent Prescribing Pharmacies. I could go on and on describing the functionality, but it’s a bit like describing a painting. The only way to experience it is to look at it yourself.

Book an appointment for one of our team to show you around our Independent Prescribing demo website. See for yourself what your pharmacy business can become when you go online.

Connecting patients with your pharmacy

Ok, so you’ve got a website, now how do we capture the patients when they’re looking for a healthcare service or a consultation?

The traditional healthcare model has been GP or hospital first, then the pharmacy to collect any medication. As we know, that’s highly inefficient for the majority of most patients and the healthcare system itself. But, it’s what people are used to.

So how do we change that?

With marketing.

patients in a waiting room

One of the most common sights in the NHS…patients waiting

Marketing Your Independent Prescribing Clinic

The problem pharmacies face when changing public perception of what they offer is indifference.

Think about how much information is thrown at us on a daily basis. Our brains have adapted to filter out irrelevant information. If you’re healthy, you don’t need to hear about where to go when you’re unwell. So your brain filters it out. Short of making a Netflix documentary, changing public perception in the macro is hard work. But we’ll return to that idea later.

One trick is marketing to people actively looking for healthcare services. Disrupt the existing journey they take. Give them a more convenient option. I can’t stress that enough. Convenience wins this game.

A more efficient, convenient service provided directly to people who need it, will, over time, change this perception of what pharmacy is.

You are the most convenient option

Fortunately, Independent Prescribing in a Community Pharmacy is the most convenient option, especially when coupled with eCommerce. All you have to do is appear when they need you, and you’ll most likely pick up the business. When people are faced with long GP waiting times for appointments, they’ll seek other avenues, and the place they’ll look is online.

a different colour tile sticks out with a light bulb idea

Make search engines your biggest ally

Search engines have one job. To connect the person using them with the information they seek. One of the primary aims of your website should be having that information, and presenting it in such a way that the search engine connects the person searching for the information to your website. This is called Search Engine Optimisation for your Website and it’s pretty critical to success.

This is as true for the medicines you can sell online as it is for private clinics you operate. Give as much information as you can, as concisely and clearly as you can. When people are searching for help with their symptoms, your website should then show up with the clear, relevant information they need to solve their problem.

Rather than go into too much detail here, if you want to learn more about SEO check out SEO for Pharmacy: The Complete Guide to Winning Google.

Using Social Media to spread the word

Social media is an incredible tool. And just like all tools, how you use it determines its utility.

Social media’s primary benefit is that it connects. It unites people with common interests into communities.

Earlier I mentioned a Netflix documentary being one of the only effective ways to get people engaged with health conversations when they’re feeling perfectly healthy. Your social media strategy should be to be like a Netflix documentary. Not in production quality. Just this:

Capture things people care about and talk about them.

As a community pharmacy, you already have a community waiting to connect with you. Their common interest is health. But as an Independent Prescriber, you’ll have a specialised common interest. It might be hair loss. It might be weight management. No matter what it is, you’ll have a topic that some people care about, because it affects them. You can create a community out of this.

Use your specialist knowledge and give your advice out for free through social media. The formula for using social media is quite simple. You can scroll through the slider below to check it out.


When you’re the one giving out the advice, building the trust that you know what you’re talking about, patients will come to you for the clinic. They’ll come to you for the medicines. And if they don’t? They wouldn’t have done anyway.

A pharmacist told us recently they stopped their team giving out GSL medicine advice over the phone, because the people were then just going to supermarkets to get the medicine. They’re giving their time for no return.

But with social media, it’s not like you’re spending any extra time on these people. You’re creating the content anyway. If 100 people see it and 10 people visit your pharmacy, that’s a net gain of 10 customers, not a loss of 90. They weren’t your customers anyway.

Talking about an example of an audiologist using Social Media to grow a community.

Accelerating the Process with Ads

Money makes the world go round. So, naturally, if you’ve got a budget for it, why wouldn’t you advertise? You’ll get more business and make more money as a result. Absolutely.

My first bit of advice, however, is tread carefully. As an agency for pharmacies, we’ve had to learn and understand the rules around advertising on various platforms, especially Google and Facebook-owned ones.

You don’t want to get yourself banned from platforms for advertising things you shouldn’t have.

Now, obviously you can’t advertise POM’s online. But you can carefully advertise your clinics. You can advertise your pharmacists. It’s usually all in the wording.

And it’s where I’ll cheerfully advertise our services. Because we’re Facebook and Google partners. As an agency partner, we have reps to talk to about what’s allowed and what isn’t. We can get pharmacies authenticated for certain medicines e.g. Pneumonia vaccines (though there’s never a 100% guarantee on this.)

But the main reason I’d advise using us, or at least another professional ads agency (who is aware of the delicate nature of pharmacy advertising) is that your return on your spend will be far greater.

It’s the equivalent of paying a stockbroker £5k to manage your £100k portfolio. You spend that £5k because they’re far more likely to make more money from your £100k than you are. And it’s the same with advertising.

If you want to understand more about the advertising process, check out some of our other articles on advertising for your pharmacy:

Generating Feedback & Garnering Reviews

Since Independent Prescribing will be a new service for you, you’ll want to get as many reviews and bits of feedback as possible. Build it into the process. Whilst website review prompts can often be ignored, when you do interact with patients, asking for reviews and feedback is critical to both improving your service and giving the patients of tomorrow confidence in your service.

It’s important to remember that even negative reviews can be turned into positive experiences. Responding to the review is always the first step. Thanking them for taking the time, and empathising. If you feel the review is constructive, you can then let them know you’re taking their feedback on board to improve your service going forward. A lot of the time, people leaving these reviews just want to be heard.

Talking about how to use negative reviews positively.

Once you’ve refined the process for one clinic, rinse and repeat with new specialities.

If you’re a newly qualified Independent Prescriber, starting a new clinic, then you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the process streamlined. It’s a lot easier to handle one clinic if something isn’t quite right than it is three or four!

But when your website is fully functioning, you understand the customer journey, and you’re raking in positive reviews, it’s definitely time to expand the offering. Naturally, you’ll have a personal workload you won’t want to overburden, but this is where we’ve seen several pharmacies we work with expand by hiring new IPs with different specialities.

If every pharmacy sets up successfully, the NHS and how the public interacts with pharmacies will already be changed. It’s an exciting time for pharmacy, and a rewarding one for those pharmacists willing to adapt to the new digital landscape.

After all, you went into healthcare to help people, not do endless administration.

Found this article helpful?

You can find all our articles and subscribe to our mailing list on our website. We’re always helping pharmacy owners to make the most of their pharmacy business with the very best in pharmacy marketing tips and guidance. We’d love to see you join our community!