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?

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how to setup a successful pharmacy ecommerce website
A successful eCommerce website massively expands your customer base and increases spend from your existing customer base. How? By putting you in front of their faces when they’re ready to buy.

Online sales rise continually year on year, but if you don’t have a pharmacy eCommerce website, you won’t see a penny of it.

ecommerce sales as a percentage of total retail sales

The components of a successful Pharmacy eCommerce Website

This article is a recipe for sweet success when it comes to eCommerce. But what are the key ingredients you need for the delicious end result?

  • Information-rich product pages/descriptions
  • Simple (and secure!) checkout process
  • A good eCommerce platform
  • Customised design for your specific business
  • Intuitive and convenient categorisation & navigation around the online shop
  • A mobile-responsive version of the site.
  • SEO

Before we start putting the pieces together for a successful site, let’s first take a step back and look at the big picture. (That’s what my mum always told me to do with jigsaws.)

How Pharmacy eCommerce works

Pharmacy eCommerce is about taking your pharmacy business online. Not just the marketing, but the actual sales themselves. We’re not talking about just booking services anymore, but setting up a full online store with products, payments, and postage.

For your customers, this means they can buy from you without ever leaving their homes. Super convenient.

For you, this means expanding your business beyond the previous geographical limits. Check the case study below for an example of what success looks like with a pharmacy eCommerce website!

The present and future of eCommerce

In 5 years’ time, you’ll wear a pair of glasses that connect to your temples. When you think about something you need, the glasses bring up an option to order it straight away from the most relevant supplier.

Ok, I made that up. But only to prove a point. Because that’s essentially how Google works already. And increasingly, how audio works. Let me explain. If you already know how Google and smart devices work, skip the next two headings.

eCommerce on Home Voice Devices

This is how easy ordering products online with smart household devices is.

  1. Start an order, say something like “Ok Google, buy Ibuprofen.”
  2. Google reads off the top search results and asks for confirmation.
  3. Say “Yes” to order, or “No” to get the next search result.
Smart Home Devices can be used for shopping online

Smart Home Devices are increasingly used across modern households.

Depending on your device, you can also specify a preference for a specific company. Simply say “Buy Ibuprofen from JP Pharmacy” to only get results from your favourite shop. Already bought an item? You can say “reorder Ibuprofen” to place the same order again, which should default to the same place you bought it from.

Recognising convenience as the biggest strength of eCommerce, you see how this process could be used to capture and lock down repeat business.

Pharmacy eCommerce websites on Google

We’ve talked many times about how when people need something and they don’t know where to get it, Google is where they go. And so ranking highly on Google is critical to any eCommerce strategy. I won’t go into too much detail here, but if you want to understand why ranking on Google is so important to your strategy, read this pharmacy guide to winning Google.
The additional element you need for eCommerce is optimising those product pages. Pertinent information and relevant product descriptions helps Google index your site, as well as giving a great shopping experience. The combination of those two means you’ll rank well on Google and will reap the profits as a result.

Creating a successful Pharmacy eCommerce website

Now we understand how they work, it’s time to follow our recipe for creating that successful Pharmacy eCommerce website.

Firstly, select the right platform

We use WooCommerce, because of its seamless integration into WordPress sites. What this means is the complete functionality of WordPress with your shop.

Why is that good?

Glad you asked. Just for absolute clarity – an eCommerce platform is not the same as a website. So, using WooCommerce (eCommerce platform) because it works well with WordPress, means you can create an entire website with eCommerce, rather than just one or the other.

Next, Customise your Website

This is important for your shoppers and your pharmacy business too. Once we’ve got our platform, it’s time to think about how it appears online. Customising its appearance and structure makes a massive difference.

For happy customers

Your online shop should be as distinguished an experience as shopping in your pharmacy. That’s not to say it’s the same level of experience. But just as you’d hope to give someone a better experience than your competition, you should strive to deliver a better experience than your competition.

For an efficient pharmacy business

Customising your website for the way you work is another cornerstone for success. Because the website is only the front of the business, like a physical pharmacy building. It still requires work behind the scenes to deliver on the orders.  Understanding how you operate and incorporating that into the website is critical.

On the customer side, it ensures excellent service. From your side, it prevents administrative workload issues. Further than that, the right website design brings a level of automation that improves the profitability of your overall business.

There are also different models and focuses of pharmacies now. Customising a website with these focuses in mind is important. The difference between success and irrelevance can be fine margins. The devil is often in the details.

See that in action as we build an eCommerce solution for an Aesthetics pharmacy in the case study below.

Website Design

Now it’s time to think about presentation. The eCommerce platform was the skeleton, your customised website is the muscles, now it’s time to put the skin on and make the whole thing look pretty.

Interactive and responsive design, including contemporary look-and-feel, good usability and high-quality graphics is the pinnacle.

If people don’t feel like your website is up-to-date, it won’t inspire confidence that your products or services are. I’ve seen websites look so dated, I didn’t buy from them in case it was a business that didn’t even trade anymore. I wouldn’t want my money going somewhere unless I’m sure I’m going to get the product.

Cultivating the intuitive navigation and layout

Presumably you put thought into the layout of your pharmacy. Where products go, what signs you use for different sections, like Prescriptions, Skincare etc. More recently you’ve implemented one-way systems and social distancing stickers on the floors.

This all needs doing for your online shop. Don’t forget the number one reason people are shopping online in the first place – convenience. Making your website as easy as possible to find both the products that people are visiting specifically to buy, as well as recommending similar or alternative products mirrors the journey they’d experience in your pharmacy.

Creating a product ecosystem with integrated SEO

Product ecosystems are simply products that interlink with each other in some way. Think Apple’s iPhone, Airpods, and Apple Watches. If you have one, chances are you’ll want the others.
Product ecosystems help both the buying journey and the Google ranking, so it’s a must for any pharmacy eCommerce website. Linking optimised content with relevant, optimised product pages sounds technical, but it’s really simple in concept.

All it means, translated into simple terms, is that you’re combining the information and advice with your product, as well as linking relevant products. Buying throat numbing spray? You might also be interested in Vapour Rub, Lemsip, and Lozenges.

Including a “How-to-use” guide (or similar) with your product not only helps people to find you on Google, but also instills confidence in the purchase at the moment of decision-making.

Having the relevant information on your product pages boosts your Google rankings too, the same way blog articles and other web pages rank higher with well-organised and relevant information.

Safe & Simple Checkout Process

Picture it.

You pop into the supermarket and pick up a carton of juice for the morning. You get to the checkouts and it’s like Christmas Eve, every checkout has at least three packed trolleys. Do you wait half an hour to buy that juice? Of course you don’t. Because you don’t have the time.

So you leave. You head to a corner shop and pick up juice there. The woman behind the counter says they only accept credit cards. She pulls out a machine that doesn’t look anything like a normal card machine. She says she’ll need to take a photo of your card for security and your signature. Again, you put down the juice and say it’s ok, you’ll go somewhere else.

These are parallels by people’s experiences when giving up online. Even if the website was modern enough to attract the customer and simple enough for them to quickly find what they needed. If the checkout process isn’t simple and secure, you lose customers.

Bear this in mind when selecting an online payment gateway for your pharmacy.

Mobile-responsiveness is now Mobile-First

Once upon a time, optimising for mobile might have been the icing on the cake. Now it’s the self-raising flour. Without it, your website will fall flat. Google recently changed its algorithm, which is the system it uses to analyse and rank websites. Now, your site is judged on the experience it gives to mobile users. This is MASSIVE.

“If it’s your intention that the mobile version has less content than the desktop version, your site may lose some traffic when Google enables mobile-first indexing for your site, since Google won’t be able to get the full information anymore.” – developers.google.com

Why this is important is that you could previously heap tonnes of information onto the desktop version of your site, be judged on that, whilst your stripped-back, simplified mobile version would cruise off the success of your desktop site.

Now, that isn’t the case. This makes it slightly more difficult to strike the balance between informative content and sleek design. You want the information there, but you want to avoid the dreaded “wall of text” that puts off so many users from websites.

Necessary, but desirable

Whilst the Google update now makes Mobile-Friendly websites imperative, the number of mobile users shopping online should be the real incentive.

That one word again. Convenience. If there’s one thing you take away from this article, make it that convenience rules supreme online.

Of course, there is another way…

Just like a recipe, you can take this, and use it to create your own dish. (Though you’d need the technical know-how on top.)

Or, if you’d prefer, the Pharmacy Mentor MasterChefs can whip up a mouth-watering eCommerce solution for your pharmacy. We work with you, understand exactly what it is you need, and produce it. Just like we’ve done countless times for other community pharmacies.

5 reasons to use digital adverts
Advertising always has one goal – getting eyeballs on your offering. But Digital Advertising has some distinct advantages over traditional advertising. Read on for 5 ways digital beats traditional when advertising your pharmacy.

5 reasons to use digital advertising over traditional advertising

Before we begin, it’s worth defining exactly what we mean by both Digital & Traditional Advertising for pharmacy.

  • Digital advertising never leaves a computer network. The adverts get distributed online through platforms such as social media, search engines and websites.
  • Traditional advertising is delivered offline to the real world. You find real-world advertising in any space people look, from the sides of bins and buses to billboards, box offices, and buildings. Of course, there are adverts in the media, too. TV, Radio, newspapers, and magazines traditionally offered exposure on an unrivalled scale before digital advertising came around.

5 ways Digital Advertising for Pharmacy is better than offline adverts

1. Analytics

Traditional Issue

Let’s take a fairly common example. You advertise in a local magazine. It might look glamorous. It might be the best-written ad ever. The problem is, there’s no way of measuring exactly what impact your advertising campaign had on your revenue. Marketing is all about trial and error. Measuring what works and what doesn’t. Knowing when to hold and when to fold.

Sure, you might notice an increase in sign-ups or sales alongside a magazine or a newspaper advert, and you can roughly approximate it to the ad. But when you then run a different campaign and it doesn’t seem to have the same impact, you can’t easily compare the two. Did people just not see the ad? Or did they see it and not feel compelled to act? With traditional forms of advertising, there’s no way of knowing.

Why Digital Works Better

Digital Advertising records and tracks everything. How many people saw the ad? How many people clicked on it? It keeps all your work from all your campaigns. You can run A/B campaigns, where you run two different ads alongside each other and the best performing ad gets displayed more.

2. Interactivity

Traditional Issue

You see an ad in a magazine for a product you like or a service you think would be useful. But you’re reading a magazine. You turn over the page. The ad is gone, never to be seen again. You’re relying on people remembering the ad the next time

I’ve talked before about making it easy for people to buy from you. Advertising offline does the opposite of that.

Here are the two journeys.

Offline Ad

1. See ad.

2. Stop what you\’re doing to get your phone out.

3. See several notifications on your phone and explore what they are.

4. Forget why you got your phone out, put it away.

5. Look back at the magazine, and remember.

6. Get your phone back out again, (if you have data/signal) and search for the pharmacy.

7. Navigate the pharmacy website until you find the product or service you were interested in.

8. Hope it\’s easy to book/buy. (if it isn\’t easy, get bored and give up.)

9. Buy/book.

Online Ad

1. See ad in whatever platform you were using, e.g., Facebook.

2. Click ad and be taken straight to the relevant product/service.

3. Buy/book.

Out of those two columns, it’s easy to see which journey has a higher chance of converting someone into a customer. With today’s attention span, any extra steps in the buying process are just another opportunity for a distraction.

This isn’t the only way interactivity helps, but it’s certainly something that impacts the ROI on your ad budget.

Ads on Facebook, for example, present opportunities for conversation with you and allows questions about the ad they’ve just seen. You can’t quickly send someone a WhatsApp if you see an ad in the newspaper. With digital advertising, there’s often the opportunity to get in touch straight away.

3. Flexibility & Control

Traditional Issue

Now, this point isn’t applicable to every campaign you’ll run, but it is always a risk. If you spend £1,000 on printing leaflets and then realise there’s a GLARING spelling error, guess who’s paying to get them all re-printed?

This same risk applies across most traditional platforms. You have to supply the finalised design/advert ready for a deadline to print or air, and after that, you’ve no control.

Why Digital Works

Made a catastrophic error on your advert? How about just logging back in, rectifying the problem, and continuing your advert? No extra cost, no fuss. Bullet dodged.

4. Value

Traditional Issue

As you’ve seen, there are lots of measures of whether one form of advertising is better than another. But the one most people care about, is cost. How much will it cost me to show this ad to someone?

Well, it costs far, far less to reach 1,000 people using social media than it does through any other form of advertising. (socialaxcessconsulting.com)

Not only that but there’s generally a minimum cost to entry with traditional advertising. I’ve seen local magazines quoting small businesses £500 for a half-page ad. You could feasibly drop that same amount on a Facebook ad. But you’d guarantee people are actually seeing your ad through Facebook. Why? You see the stats.

In 2021, advertisers had to pay an average of 5.6 million U.S. dollars to air a 30-second long commercial during the Super Bowl LV broadcast

Why Digital Works

With digital advertising, there are numerous benefits when it comes to pricing.

Google Ads for instance, only charge you when people click on your ad. This means you can essentially trial whether or not there is demand for your service through Google. If people aren’t interested in your ad, you don’t pay for it. Google also gives you an insight into what your competitor’s budgets are for advertising similar things. (Learn more about Google Ads for Pharmacies here)

Facebook lets you choose how you get charged. Whether that’s the number of people who see your ad, when people like your page, or click on your link. This level of customisation is a welcome addition for people who want more control over their ad spend.

5. Smart Audience Targeting

Traditional Issue

You spend £10k to have an advert on a billboard in a popular location. You’re sold on the fact that it’s seen by 50k people. But how many of those 50k people are your target market? You end up paying over the odds for irrelevant people to view your ads.

Why Digital Works

With the vast majority of digital platforms you can advertise on, you can specify your ideal audience. Advertising NHS flu vaccines? You want to make sure you’re targeting people who are 65+. Advertising a Period Delay service? Obviously, men don’t need that service.

Remember, no matter how you want to advertise your pharmacy, we can help.

We have no bias towards digital or traditional marketing. Our bias is delivering results that help build your pharmacy’s future. In a strategy bespoke to you and your pharmacy business, we recommend the best tactics available to get you there. No matter what those tactics are.

SEO for Pharmacy
In our recent article, Blogging for Pharmacies: The Industry Missing the Gold Rush, we explored the power of online content. In this article, we’re exploring getting that content in front of people. One of the most effective ways of doing that is optimising your content for search engines like Google.

Before we begin, check out these stats demonstrating the importance of using SEO to get your pharmacy seen on Google.

  • The #1 position on Google gets 32% of all clicks. (Backlinko.com)
  • The top 3 Google search results get 75.1% of all clicks. (Backlinko.com)

seo guide for pharmacy

What is SEO, and what does it do?

What is SEO?

A search engine like Google has a checklist so that the web pages it recommends give a great user experience. The search engine recommends pages based on how well they score on that checklist. Put simply, Search Engine Optimisation is the process of making a web page more likely to be ranked higher by scoring well on that checklist.

Going through all the trouble of creating a website and filling it with content, only for nobody visiting the site sounds like a pointless exercise. Unless you deploy SEO as part of your digital strategy, I imagine this is your experience of having a website.

But you wouldn’t be alone. This is what the majority of the Internet looks like. Especially for pharmacy websites.

90.63% of all pages get zero traffic from Google. 5.29% of them get ten visits per month or less. (ahrefs.com)

What does SEO do?

Pharmacy owners we speak to about websites typically all have the same, templated website with little to no functionality. If you bought a $50 Rolex watch, would you be surprised if it stopped working after a month? You get what you pay for. And it’s the same with websites.

Buying a website “because you think you should”, with no plan for what it does or how it works? You’ll opt for the cheapest option. And why wouldn’t you? You have no idea what you want the website to achieve. Bearing no other factors in mind other than “having a website”, you choose the cheapest route to goal.

Ok, so you have a website. Now what? The only time it shows up is when people are searching for your pharmacy by name. Which is something, at least. It’s better than it showing someone else. But these people searching for you by name are already your customers. Your website isn’t attracting new visitors. And that’s the whole purpose of SEO. Attracting new business.

On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO

SEO can get incredibly complicated, incredibly fast. And you’re a business owner, not a marketer. You don’t care about those complexities. Let’s explain so you can see the big picture without needing any fine print.

Think of Google as a Visitor Information Centre for the town/city you’re in. When a person searches on Google, it’s just like asking the guide behind the information desk a question.

Such questions might be:

  • “Where can I find the nearest pharmacy”
  • “How to safely get rid of earwax”
  • “Where can I get a travel vaccination?”

For the guide to recommend you, they must know about the thing you want referrals for. It’s a bit like rules in a game. They’ll only recommend you for the things you’ve told them about.

You’re not the only player in the search engine game

Now, you’re not the only one who wants recommendations from the guide. Everyone in town wants visitors. So the guide uses a system. Everyone must create content they think will help the guide solve people’s problems.

Let’s use books as a substitute for websites, to highlight the point. You want to promote your Ear Wax Removal service. So you write a book called “How to remove ear wax safely – A Pharmacist’s Guide.” Over the road, an Ear Wax Clinic has written a book called “Ear Wax Removals – Book Appointments Now”. And on the other side of town, another pharmacy has written a book called “Cheap Ear Wax Removal.”

The guide reads these books and, based on how easy it was to read, how helpful it thinks the book is, and how much information the book had in, the guide ranks your book against the other books that other businesses have given it. This is on-page SEO.

So how do the rankings work?

Imagine you are the guide.

Which one would you recommend to people? It depends, right? If they’ve asked for “Cheap Ear Wax Removal”, on the title of the book alone, you’d recommend in this order:

  1. Cheap Ear Wax Removal book
  2. Ear Wax Removals – Book Appointments
  3. How to remove ear wax safely – A Pharmacist’s Guide

That being said, SEO is not determined by the title alone. This order could be different if the content in the second options was optimised for that search term. There are also other factors that could change these positions around, such as cookies and your location. You see, it’s tricky!

If they asked the guide How to safely remove Ear Wax, you’d likely recommend the complete opposite order.

Titles that contain a question get 14.1% more clicks vs. titles that don’t. (Backlinko.com) Why? Because most people have a question in their mind when they search online. Seeing the question they’re asking inspires confidence they’ll find the answer that applies to them.

Bear in mind, you’re not the only guide in town. Ultimately, if people don’t think your recommendations are any good, they’ll use another guide.

google vs bing meme

Search Engines monitor visitor’s behaviour

The Google guide recommends your content based on its own initial impression, but it absolutely takes user feedback on board. If it recommends your book, and someone immediately comes back and says they want a different book, it pays attention. If enough people do that, it stops recommending your book as highly. Its sole purpose is to help people solve their problems. If your book isn’t helping people, it will stop recommending you.

Now, the more content you create, the more you can be recommended by the Google guide for different keywords. Keywords are essentially the subjects your books cover. It’ll often be in the title. Using our previous example, “ear wax removal” was the key phrase you were targeting. Keywords let the guide know what you want the book to be judged on and recommended for.

But remember, the critical part of creating this content is the guide recommending you in the first place. The guide has learned over time what people like to see. So if you don’t meet these expectations, you won’t be recommended at all. There’s no point in spending the time writing the book if the guide thinks it’s rubbish and won’t ever recommend it to anyone. And the opposite is true, the more they recommend the content, the more worth your time it is.

Now is the time to use SEO to get your pharmacy on the first page of Google

At the time of writing, May 19th 2021, there really isn’t a lot of competition either. So it’s an incredibly effective use of your time, as there aren’t many people competing with you for the highest recommendations.

Of course, the guide is a little bit crafty. You can also just pay it to put you at the top of the ranking, using Google Ads. It tells people that you’ve paid for that recommendation, but it still recommends you before anyone who hasn’t paid it. It’s not exactly the cleanest process, but that’s how it makes its money.

search engine results page on Google for morning after pill near me

You can see the Ads dominate the top of the page. But a high percentage of online traffic goes to the organic results rather than clicking on Ads.

Off-page SEO – How that influences your recommendations

If on-page SEO is writing the book that Google recommends to people, off-page SEO is all the hype that book gets from other people.

  • Do other people reference your book in their books? (Links from other websites to your page.)
  • Is your book being read a lot without Google recommending it? (This is you sharing your content through social media and emails)
  • Do your own books reference this book? (Does the homepage of your website have a link to this page? If you don’t consider it super-important, why should Google?)

It’s important not to neglect your off-page SEO. Here’s a simple reason why:

You want Google to think your website is great, right? Think about a book again. If someone handed you a book they wrote and told you it was great, you might read it and make your own mind up. If it’s #1 on the NY Times Bestseller List, is multiple award-winning, and sold millions of copies, you’re going to assume that the book is of good quality before you’ve even read it.

The same’s true for your website. The more that external sources direct people towards it, the better Google presumes the content from your site is and the more credit it gives you.

What can I do to get better off-page SEO?

That is a big, big topic. You can check out The Ultimate Guide to Off-Page SEO by Neil Patel, if only to demonstrate an example of off-page SEO in action. Neil Patel writes these helpful articles, and folks like me use them in situations like this. The more this happens, the more Google loves his site. And they do.

How does using SEO for your pharmacy help your business?

  1. New Business from an active market.

    People who are in the active market know they have a problem and need a solution. (They usually know what the solution is too.) Their search terms might be “rehydration sachets”. Writing content for this market can see immediate returns and lets people know where they can find you to give you money to solve their problem. They have a problem, they find your solution.

  2. Activating a dormant market.

    The dormant market often doesn’t know what their problem is yet, so they Google the symptoms of their problem. To continue the example, they search “how to cure a hangover”. They’re not sure of what their problem is yet (they’re dehydrated) but writing content like “10 ways to cure a hangover” reaches this market. One of the 10 ways could mention rehydration sachets, “…which you can get at our pharmacy”. Someone wasn’t looking for your product, but they’ve found it. That concludes my lecture ‘Activating a Dormant Market 101’.

  3. Brand Awareness.

    Especially for pharmacies, we’re in a transitionary period where public awareness still isn’t there for the services you offer. Sending people to your website to solve their current problems also gives you the opportunity to show them all the other things you offer. Someone comes to your website for a travel vaccine and sees you also offer lip fillers. They find you for one thing and are made aware of another. The more you can be discovered in any area, the better. Web traffic just has the benefit of being large volume, especially when you are ranked highly on the Search Engines Results Page for a common search. The numbers that a website with proper SEO delivers can’t be beaten for the investment.

What about Technical SEO?

Technical SEO has been left until last deliberately. It’s actually more important than ever. But it is a bit boring.

Search engines not only measure how good your on-page content is to rank you, but they also measure all the technical aspects of your website and content and compare it to best-practice. Because performance matters to user experience.

Think of on-page SEO as how a car looks, and off-page SEO as how a car runs. Someone might excitedly climb behind the wheel of a Lamborghini, but if it runs like an Austin Metro, they’ll quickly get out again.

For example, pages that load within two seconds have an average bounce rate of 9%, while pages that load in five seconds see their bounce rates skyrocket to 38%. (“Bounce” means visitors exit the page without interacting with it.) Below is an excerpt from a tweet from Google’s John Mueller.

I can tell you as someone whose focus is on-page SEO, Technical SEO is not something you want to get bogged down with. Unless you know what you’re doing, it is a long and painful headache. Getting your site built and managed by professionals is the easiest way to get rid of that headache.

So what now?

Hopefully, that’s given you a clear view of SEO and its importance. Do your own marketing? Please, please implement SEO into what you do. Outsource your marketing? You now understand its importance in the work that either we, or anyone else does for you. If an agency doesn’t offer satisfactory answers or results with SEO, it’s worth questioning why not. SEO isn’t ever a guarantee, but if your SEO isn’t delivering, you at least want a guarantee that making it better is a focus.

pharmacy blogging
Most people think of blogging as something casual. Teenagers journaling, hobbyists documenting, commentators gossiping. But blogs fill the internet with content people want to read. It’s the Internet’s newspaper. Getting on the front page is simple for pharmacies…because barely anyone in community pharmacy uses their website’s blog.

pharmacy blog on a laptop

Why is a pharmacy blog so important?

Understanding why a pharmacy blog is important first means understanding what “blog” even means. The word blog derives from “weblog“, as in, logging the web. The internet is just information that is all connected on a big network. Web-logging, or blogging, is the process of adding information to the internet.

So, blogging is literally creating informative resources for people to access on the internet. Understanding that concept is key. Because that’s what people use the internet for. Looking up the meaning of a word. Finding out why they have a headache. Discovering the best Chinese takeaway near their house. All of it is accessing data and information that someone else has logged.

And that’s important. You can’t access information that isn’t there.

And so we reach our bombshell…pharmacies are not blogging.

That means people are looking for information and either not finding it, or finding it from another source.

What should a Pharmacy blog about?

Another article we shared, Stuck for Pharmacy Blog Posts? These 14 will last forever is great for continually adding new informational content to your site (which Search Engines like Google love, as it shows them they aren’t sending people to a dead website.)

But start with the basics. Do you offer a UTI service? How about writing a blog entitled, “Trimethoprim Treatments in South Manchester – No Appointment Necessary” or “Need UTI treatment in South Manchester? Antibiotics available.”

Now the next time I Google “UTI treatment near me” (see above video), I won’t find Walgreens and have to travel to the U.S. to get treatment. I’ll find my local pharmacy and nip down the road. And that pharmacy will generate revenue, simply by appearing online.

For a closer look at blogging in action, check out this case study, where Reach Pharmacy created blogs for their flu vaccine service.

stuck for pharmacy blog posts

How should you blog?

  1. Don’t sell, help.

    Unless someone Googles “sales pitch”, they don’t want to read one. Don’t tell them how great your service is. Highlight symptoms to be mindful of, causes of health problems, and recommend courses of action. Using Aesthetics Clinics as an example. Blog about “How often should you get lip fillers?” and write a helpful guide on how often to get fillers, the best fillers to use, and how to spot clinicians to avoid.

  2. Write for the reader. Talk about them, not you.

    Remember that people are looking for answers and advice online. The temptation as a business when marketing is solely focusing on your business; talking about your service, promoting yourselves as service providers. But don’t forget there’s a person with a problem reading your post. Address their concerns and pain points. Let them know you understand their problem, and it won’t take too much convincing that you’re the one who can solve it.

  3. End with a Call-to-Action

    Done properly, the information you convey through your pharmacy blog demonstrates that your service solves the reader’s problem. So, you don’t need essays about your service. But you should prompt action.

    Tell people what their next step is. Whether that’s contacting the pharmacy or booking an appointment online, give people signposts. Keep it simple.

  4. Optimise

    Would you bother writing a book if no one was ever going to read it? Optimising your blog for search engines means it reaches as many of the people you’re targeting as possible. If you’re bothering writing a blog, optimising it makes it worth your time. Learn more about on-page optimisation here.

When should you blog?

Let’s revisit the title of this article because it wasn’t just sensationalism. The answer to “When should you blog?” is, in the first instance, before everyone else does. In our next article, we’ll explore Search Engine Optimisation in much greater depth. But for now, I’ll draw up a really simple analogy for you. The reason that pharmacies are missing the gold rush, is because the gold is all on Page 1 of Google. And just like the Gold Rush, you must claim the land before you mine the gold.

It is possible to get on Page 1 when there is a lot of competition for the places. But just like buying land instead of being the first one there and staking a claim, it costs you more money and it’s a longer process.

And right now, there’s so much land to claim (depending on your geographical location.)

Does it make a difference when I blog in the calendar year?

Unless you’re an online pharmacy or DSP, it matters that the traffic your blog post attracts drives relevant traffic to your site. It’s hard to know precisely how Google works (because they don’t ever disclose the algorithm), but in simple terms, your blog gets ranked on Google depending on user experience. If the first 100 visitors to your blog find it useful and relevant, spend time on it and then stay on your website, Google sees your blog as valuable content and ranks it higher. If the first 100 people all immediately click back off your website, Google thinks you aren’t meeting user needs and won’t recommend that post very highly.

Of course, your rankings can change over time, but the launch of your blog is impactful, and getting off to a good start never hurts. We use a Blogging Content Calendar as a guide to creating blogs in line with when they trend on Google. Writing a blog in March about the Winter Flu Jab vaccine, for instance, is not ideal. (Unless you’re in the Southern Hemisphere!)

What do I need to get started?

Whilst the ideal framework for a blog is a complete online ecosystem – think social media, a booking calendar, a payment gateway, all you really need to start your pharmacy blog is your own website. Once you have a site, you can publish whatever content you like. But as discussed, unless you have a good grasp of SEO, a DIY effort won’t be as effective as it could be.

For the ROI, whether you’re measuring in time or money, our blogging strategies for pharmacy is an extremely accessible service that can transform your business.

Want to make the most of your pharmacy blog? Talk to us about how we can help you get set up.

Moving towards a modern healthcare hub, service-focused model of pharmacy, setting up an Aesthetics Clinics in your pharmacy makes perfect sense. It’s a business that can completely stand on its own, being a high-end luxury service rather than the lower-end necessities.

aesthetics clinics in pharmacy

Why should you set up an Aesthetics Clinic in your pharmacy?

  1. They’re incredibly profitable. Successfully run, an aesthetics clinic can be more profitable than a pharmacy.
  2. See number 1.

No, but seriously, there are many reasons to set up an aesthetics clinic. Perhaps you enjoy doing it. Perhaps you believe the industry practice could be improved with more highly qualified clinicians. But, if done well, (which we’ll cover below) it will make you lots of money and as a business, that’s a real consideration. And as a healthcare institution, you’ve already got a great awareness of the medical side of the business. Because ultimately, although it is a luxury boutique, it’s founded in healthcare.

The problem is, a lucrative business comes with lots of competition. Who doesn’t want to make lots of money? But…

Pharmacies are perfectly placed to deliver Aesthetics Clinics as a trustworthy healthcare institution

Luxury customer experience is idealised by the people seeking these treatments, but ultimately their health is their main priority. They want 100% confidence their procedure will go well. Whilst levels of qualification are required to perform these cosmetic treatments, a pharmacist’s experience and qualifications stand head and shoulders above people whose only medical qualifications are the cosmetic ones.

Being at the heart of your local community also offers the convenience of proximity for a service where a lot of patients want repeat services every few months. Most pharmacies have a consultation space, allowing procedures to be conducted privately and comfortably. Your Consultation room may not offer the luxury feel of other Aesthetic clinics. A great experience is often the difference between a one-time customer and a repeat customer. It might be worth investing in a facelift for your consultation room as a facility.

aesthetics clinic in a consultation room

How’s your consultation room game?

Why shouldn’t you set up an Aesthetics Clinic in your pharmacy?

 

It’s easy to get swept away in the idea of making lots of money, but Aesthetics Clinics are a big commitment and shouldn’t be undertaken without being properly thought through. Here are 3 reasons you shouldn’t set up an Aesthetics Clinic.

  1. Aesthetics is, perhaps unsurprisingly, utilised by people who place a lot of emphasis on looks and a luxury experience.

    If your pharmacy doesn’t look modern, this could hamstring any efforts to attract people to your clinic. If your consultation room isn’t up to scratch, again this will dent your appearance as “high-end.” People won’t spend a lot of money somewhere they don’t perceive to be high-end. Your medical and clinical experience is already high-end compared to most cosmetic clinicians. But your experience needs to match to make the very best profits.

  2. Neither you nor your team has an interest in aesthetics and learning to be competent.

    To re-iterate: the experience of aesthetics treatments should not feel like going for a vaccine, and the treatment is also more complicated. People want an experience to make them feel valued. What this entails varies from individual to individual. But if you’re only interested in a money-making machine, people will find somewhere else that gives them the experience they seek. Either that, or you’ll have to make your model low-cost, high volume. It’s a lot harder to make a margin this way. It’s also a lot of time being spend doing aesthetics treatments if you have no real interest in it. Superdrug offers an extremely cheap option, but with their marketing budget, their margin might come from increased footfall in their store. The hope that by attracting aesthetics patients they’ll also cross-sell make-up or other beauty products. (something you should consider doing no matter your price)

  3. You have no marketing strategy for it.

    If you don’t know how to connect your service to your paying customers, then there’s really no point investing in not just this, but any service. Our Powerful Aesthetics Marketing service is perfect if you don’t want to do this yourself.

If you’re in this position currently, consider improving these areas. It’ll massively ramp up your chances of success.

Marketing your Aesthetics Clinic – Setting yourself up for success

Let’s just make it clear what I mean by marketing – connecting your product/service to your customer. Without that, you’re not going to get anyone into your clinic. If no one knows you offer the service, how can they buy it from you?

Relying on people seeing your service in your pharmacy is going to be slow, slow going. Generally speaking, the market for your aesthetics clinic and the market for your pharmacy will have limited crossover. We’re talking about very different customers. So you need a very different marketing strategy. Your offering could be completely different from an Aesthetics Clinic down the road from you too. So you could need a very different strategy from them.

Your logo, your branding, your website, your social media, your content, even your premises will need to reflect the service you’re offering. And that might sound like a lot of work. But Aesthetics Clinics can make you lots of money. No one ever gets that without work. Set up in the right way though, you can reap handsome rewards. But it’s all dependent on the marketing.

Logo/Branding

Image is everything. For the vast majority of your customers, their first impression and their decision to visit your Aesthetics clinic will be made online. So you have to look, sound, and feel like a brand they’d expect to buy a treatment from.

Website

If you want to have your Aesthetics Clinic share a website with your pharmacy, then the bar for visual appeal needs to be set for the Aesthetics business, not the pharmacy. Your pharmacy customers won’t be put off by a website that looks excessively good for a pharmacy, but your aesthetics customers will be put off by a website that doesn’t look good.

The impression it gives? “If you can’t make your website look good, how can you make me look good?”

SEO

Let’s go back to the definition of marketing. Connecting your service to your customer. The perfect time to do this than when the prospective customer is searching for the service.

At it’s core, SEO means that your website gets found when people search for things. Want your Aesthetics Clinic to be found when people search for “Botox Injections?” You have to optimise your website for that phrase. The video below demonstrates Google searches for different key phrases “botox injections” and “aesthetics injections” and shows how different websites show up for what is a very similar phrase.

 

 

Your average ignoramus like me wouldn’t have a clue about the difference between plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery. So it’s important to be found for all the different search terms that people will use when they want your service.

Understanding what people are searching for is critical to getting your service found. If you’re trying to be found for “Aesthetics Clinic” instead of “Plastic Surgery” for instance, you’d be barking up the wrong tree. Plastic Surgery is searched for around 30x more on average and sometimes 50x more. Even though you don’t offer Plastic Surgery, you could optimise a blog post with the title “Plastic Surgery vs Cosmetic Surgery? What’s the difference and which one fits your needs?”

The same is true for “Botox Injections” – and any other service you’d offer. Just like people don’t search for a pharmacy when they want an earwax removal or a travel vaccine, people don’t search for an aesthetics clinic when they want treatments, they search for the treatments.

 

A Google Trends graph showing the difference in search terms between "Botox" (shown in blue) and "Aesthetics Clinic" (shown in red)

A Google Trends graph showing the difference in search terms between “Botox” (shown in blue) and “Aesthetics Clinic” (shown in red)

 

Social Media

The Social media strategy for Aesthetics Clinics differs from a pharmacy strategy in a number of ways. Aesthetics is a visual domain and needs a visual strategy to match. The primary audience for aesthetics is on Instagram, but that doesn’t mean ignoring Facebook, or even Nextdoor. There are tools to utilise on each platform that can help to not only capture new business, but also retain your existing business. This is super critical for aesthetics, as treatments like fillers require repeat visits every few months. Customer retention should be a big focus of your strategy.

You’ll also need to build and optimise your Google My Business profile and begin generating reviews on there. Social proofing is everything when it comes to Aesthetics.

 

Paid Ads

Paid ads combine the best of Social Media and Search Engines and hand it to you on a plate. Top of Google. Seen on Social Media. Guaranteed.

What’s the catch? You have to pay for it, naturally. But don’t let that put you off.

Digital advertisements provide better value, better analytics, and better targeting than any other form of advertising. Why does anyone advertise? Because the money it costs you to advertise is far less than the money you make by advertising. Creating and developing a successful ad campaign can be the difference between success and failure.

Ads are especially useful for getting business in the first few months while your organic strategy is growing.

Want help marketing your Aesthetics Clinic?

Our Aesthetics Marketing makes your clinic visible, accessible, and convenient to the relevant people and sets you up to capture the market and the profits which follow.

Understanding what people search for is critical in getting your service found. If you’re targetting “Aesthetics Clinic” instead of “Botox” for instance, you’re barking up the wrong tree. Plastic Surgery is searched for around 30x more on average and, in this spike,100x more.

Harnessing these trends both on Google & Social Media is fundamental to a successful Aesthetics clinic, which is a great opportunity to grow a large revenue stream.

 

LinkedIn poll for popular services in pharmacy

(Taken from our current poll on LinkedIn #impartial)

 

Our Aesthetics Marketing makes your clinic visible, accessible, and convenient to the relevant people and sets you up to capture the market and the profits which follow.

Interested in the opportunity to run an excellent aesthetic clinic in your pharmacy? Check our Powerful Aesthetics Marketing and talk to us about how we can help you set up.

 


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Digital health pharmacy
With so much focus on streamlining business practices and revenues, it’s easily forgotten that Digital Health is ultimately about improving patient health. We’ll look at four great digital health solutions to offer in your pharmacy in 2021 which benefit your patient as much as your pharmacy.

 

digital health services revolutionising patient care

There are lots of services to offer in your pharmacy, but we’re highlighting some of the top ones for 2021.

The Digital Health services to offer in your pharmacy

 

1. TympaHealth

 

TympaHealth’s range of ear health has brought another service for pharmacies to offer to their communities, and it’s absolutely taken off across the UK.

 

The Technology

As shown in the video above, TympaHealth integrates health technology with mobile technology. It also combines the ability to conduct hearing tests and micro-suction into one piece of kit.

Benefits of the service

With most GP’s dropping the ear wax removal during COVID-19, patients are actively seeking out the service. If your pharmacy is appearing on search engines when people search for “ear wax treatment” or similar, you’ll be reaping the rewards already.

Micro-suction, for example. typically takes between 10-20 minutes per appointment, with most prices around £50. So it’s decent bang for your buck. If you automate the process for booking appointments, you really begin driving your profit/minute conversion into an attractive proposition for your pharmacy.

The TympaHealth offering provides more than just ear wax removal, and the process is one that assures patients that their overall ear health is in good hands. This assurance and professional service gives confidence in your pharmacy’s ability to deliver other services, too.

As far as initial services to trial, moving towards a more service-driven pharmacy model, TympaHealth’s Ear Health service is a great place to start in 2021.

 

2. Allergy Testing

 

The world has never been more self-aware and proactive when it comes to intolerances and allergies. One only has to stroll down the dairy aisle of a supermarket and see all the Lactose-free products on offer to know that intolerances and allergies are at the forefront of people’s minds nowadays.

 

 

The Technology

PharmaDoctor partnered with Klarify.me who innovated DIY Allergy Test Kits for people to order and carry out at home. The Klarify test kits detect the body’s reactions to allergen extracts and components, which allows for comprehensive precision testing on hundreds of allergens.

The PharmaDoctor service gives you the accredited training necessary for delivering the service for patients. It’s a useful service, as a lot of patients struggle extracting blood themselves.

Easy Upsell

Someone buying Antihistamines? Just as you look for warning signs with health conditions, allergies are now something you can screen for and test, without having to refer anyone externally.

Benefits of going private

Of course, allergy tests are available through the NHS, but an allergy test service offers the benefit of not having to a) wait months to find out if you can eat or drink a certain foodstuff and b) keep a food diary in attempts to try and determine the source of intolerance.

If you’re in an affluent area where people invest money to save themselves time, this service could be very popular.

3. Pharmaself24

 

Pharmaself24 brings ATM technology to prescriptions. Think about that. How much more convenient did the banking experience become when withdrawing cash didn’t require queueing up and speaking to someone? Not only for the patients but for the banks. It meant the tellers could give more useful services to people who needed more complicated problems solving.

It’s hardly a secret in the industry that margins on prescriptions have put a lot of pressure on pharmacies to come up with alternative solutions to increase their revenue, in some cases to stay afloat. It doubles up as both a convenient service and efficient automation, Pharmaself24 is a great way for your pharmacy to automate the collection of medicines, become more convenient for patients, and free up your staff’s valuable time.

 

 

The Technology

The tech works in a similar way to an Amazon lock-box.

  1. The patient registers with you for the service.
  2. They re-order their prescription as usual (hopefully through a prescription-reordering app).
  3. You prepare the prescription as usual.
  4. Once prepared, and loaded into the Pharmaself, a text alerts the patient that their prescription is ready for collection and gives them a PIN for the machine.
  5. The patient collects their prescription whenever they want, 24/7.
  6. As it’s all digitised, the Pharmaself24 keeps a full audit trail from loading to collection.

It’s an incredible solution for your patients. During the pandemic, it really hammered home its utility, offering a chance to collect prescriptions without any need to come into contact with another person. See how we drove 100’s of EPS Sign-ups through Pharmaself24 marketing.

In a post-pandemic world, the value of a Prescription Collection Machine is intrinsic to customer convenience. And customer convenience is in turn, crucial to customer retention. 24/7 collection is so convenient for the working population, as well as people whose work shifts change.

Why would you queue, or collect at hours that don’t suit you, when you don’t have to?

Competitive Customer Convenience

Customer convenience isn’t a problem when you don’t have convenient competition. But the second someone else is offering 24/7 collection nearby, you’re going to start losing customers. Why wait until you’re losing customers? You could be the one with the machine and accumulating more customers.

Another source of this competition is online pharmacies. They already offer an extremely convenient service. But people might actually prefer to collect their prescriptions. People living in a block of flats for instance may have delivery difficulties. People who aren’t at home a lot might not want their prescriptions sat on their doorstep getting rained on. It’s not going to be the biggest source of people signing up, but it’s another string to your convenient bow.

With digital health in mind, this is a great service for patients. Many patients often complain about their prescriptions not being ready on time. Their dependence on their medication makes timeliness a major concern for them. Streamlining the process and giving round-the-clock access to collections severely reduces prescription dispensing time and decreases occurrences of patients going without medication (whoever’s fault it is).

For so many reasons, Prescription Collection Machines like the Pharmaself24 are absolutely one of the top digital health innovations to adopt in 2021.

Already offer Prescription Collection or are planning to? Check out our Pharmaself24 marketing packs to massively increase EPS sign-ups in your community.

 

4. Instant Dentist

When it comes to convenience, and tech which disrupts industries, Dental Health is a prime example.

 

 

Dentists have one of the ultimate reputations for being hard to get an appointment with. By the time a toothache gets seen to, it’s too late – it’s either gone away or there was no stitch in time to save the nine. The attraction of Instant Dentist is banishing that barrier.

The Technology

As you can see in the video above, Instant Dentist works via photos and questions uploaded through an app, which Online Dentists then use to make assessments. (It’s probably a good idea to dedicate a private space in your pharmacy for people to take these photos to avoid embarrassment.) The Online Dentists then communicate with the patients via the app to prescribe treatment or products for their issue.

Why should I offer the service?

Boots on the ground, to use the old military phrase. People will love the very concept of Instant Dentist, so it’s a great thing to stick in your windows, preferably on an eye-catching digital screen, but posters would work too. (The reason I prefer digital screens for pharmacies offering digital services like that is that it sets the tone for a hygienic, clean, modern facility.) Footfall, at the time of writing, is still a touchy subject, with lockdown only just now beginning to ease.

However, if you market Instant Dentist digitally, (which you absolutely should) then it’s a lockdown-proof service anyway. People have to leave their homes to go to a dentist. The Instant Dentist service is just a different location to get an available dentist consultation.

The service is a completely free setup. As it’s a remote service that simply connects the patients to dentists, there isn’t any additional work for you or compliance to meet.

And you get a revenue split.

Increase visitors to your pharmacy and increase revenue.

It’s that simple.

 

5. Video Consultations

 

Even coming out of lockdown, video consultations are a super convenient solution (which also broadens your geographical catchment area) and are now culturally normalised.

 

Pharmacy Mentor can integrate Video Consultation software into your Pharmacy Mentor Website

 

Even the elderly market adopted the use of this technology during the pandemic to stay in contact with family. And for the elderly, video consultations solve the problem of mobility. Offering video consultations alongside in-person appointments makes your service accessible to everyone.

The important considerations when offering video consultations are the experience and security.

User Experience

No one wants a laggy video call where you struggle to see and hear someone. A solid pharmacy internet connection is a necessity to offer this service.

Safeguarding & Security with Video Consultations

There are significant differences between video calls with friends versus patients. Be mindful of confidentiality over video calls. Treat them with the same respect you’d give to face-to-face consultations is key.

Here is the NHS guidance for providing safe video consultations in a healthcare environment.

 

Want to talk more about which services to offer in your pharmacy?

 

Get in touch! We can help with everything you need to get started, including attracting more people to your pharmacy by marketing these services expertly.

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