In this presentation, delivered at The Pharmacy Show 2022, Saam will show you how you can turn your PGD or Independent Prescribing status into £10,000’s per month. He shows you what digital tools, mechanisms and formulas you need to adopt to make it work.
The presentation has been transcribed below:
After she said those words and shot me down in front of a room full of people, I did something that would change the course of my life forever.
I got up, adjusted my tie, and said “I won’t do this anymore”. And walked out.
That was the last meeting I ever had with them, back in 2012.
I was working for one of the big corps and I had a very well-paid job. But towards the end of my time there, it felt like I was wearing a straight jacket to work instead of a suit jacket.
I had so many ideas for growth, but they just didn’t get listened to. I understood, of course. It’s tough to get anything through the big corporate red tape.
But I needed to grow.
And the only way I could do that was to break free and personally innovate.
As much as I love the NHS, I see it as a bit of a straight jacket for Community Pharmacy.
It’s very restrictive.
The market for prescriptions is heavily saturated, you’re getting paid less, and you don’t set the prices.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t focus on driving item numbers – it’s always gonna be part of your business model.
But, I’m sure you’ll agree, things a getting tighter.
But because you’re an Independent Pharmacy where no red tape exists and where you make the decisions about where your business goes, there are no boundaries like I had all those years ago.
You’ve got room to innovate.
And that tightening NHS grip can loosen if you put more time and energy into offering private clinical services.
It’s incredible what pharmacies can offer today.
And, with the help of the brilliant companies in this expo, you can become, I believe, the most powerful, diverse health hub in your city.
There’s so much potential for growth down this route.
Yet, like my store manager all those years back, I’m still hearing these sentences from time to time.
The way of the NHS has been a habit.
But these comments don’t stand any more, and here’s why…
I’ve broken it down into chunks:
- Your sphere of Influence
- The Boom in Private and Digital Healthcare
- How our behaviour has now altered
- Your ease of access to training
- Revenue Potential
- And Digital Marketing
When you go down the clinical route, your sphere of influence as a business grows significantly.
Traditionally, with the NHS dispensing model, you cater to the people who live within the 1 to 2-mile radius around you.
However, if you start offering a Travel Clinic, a Weight Management Clinic or an Ear Wax Removal clinic for example, you’ve immediately expanded your target audience to cover the entire city.
This is what we need to understand.
People are willing to travel much greater distances for these services, meaning you’ve 10 times’d your sphere of influence.
If I open Google Maps and type in the word “Pharmacy”, I get a load of pharmacies pop up, naturally.
However, if I type the keywords “Travel Clinic” or “Weight Loss Clinic”, less than a handful of clinics pop up and none of them are pharmacies.
Question: Do we have any pharmacy owners from Sheffield in the audience today?
Because if I was that pharmacy owner from Sheffield, I’d go home after this show and work out how I’m going start delivering a Travel and Obesity Clinic.
Then, I’d optimise them so well online that I’d literally sink the competition that I can see on there.
My clinics would show up first with 100’s of reviews on them, and I’d be making a fortune.
That’s how unsaturated this market is still.
Once again, my target audience is the city, not just S10.
The pandemic has also helped private healthcare boom over the last couple of years.
More people are looking for alternative ways to get better because the NHS is so rammed and people prefer to pay to get better quicker.
And many of these private entities are online too. Now is as good a time as ever to get in on this growing space.
Our digital behaviour has changed too. We’ve become supercharged digital users.
The stats there that should glow for a local pharmacy is that…
- “Near me” searches for healthcare services have doubled since 2015.
- And roughly 97% of people who use online search, look for local businesses.
They are very powerful indicators of the opportunity that is in front of a clinic service-oriented pharmacy.
It’s also easier to get started delivering private services.
More of us are becoming independent prescribers, and firms, like PharmaDoctor, make it super easy for us to begin supplying POMs under a PGD.
TympaHealth, another fabulous company, allows you to provide an ear clinic in your pharmacy.
Medicheks allows you to supply blood testing kits.
And Nurokor means you can operate a pain clinic in-store.
Essentially, you have the opportunity to become a complete health hub in your community, which…
Can generate a shed tonne of new revenue for you.
Take a look at this pharmacy for example. They offer a plethora of services, including a Travel Clinic, a Private GP, Blood Testing and Vitamin B12 injections.
The graph you can see is website traffic over time. They reached an all-time high between 2021 and 2022, achieving 5000 website page views a day at one point, and they were generating over £100,000 a month from their private services alone.
The way I see prescriptions now is not about the money you make from them under the NHS.
I see them as a vehicle for converting those patients into private service customers.
And that’s where digital marketing comes into play – which is the way you’re going to drive as much revenue from them as possible.
It’s time to think of your NHS patient database as a pool of clients you can upsell to.
If you’ve got 5000 patients on your PMR system, you have to get them enrolled onto your website.
And even better, WhatsApp or an email marketing solution, so you can communicate with them directly.
But that’s only 5000 people.
Remember earlier, I talked about how your sphere of influence has increased – we’ve got another 500,000 people we can potentially service.
So we need to think about SEO, Paid Ads and Social Media to communicate to those. I’ll come onto these later.
But firstly, if you’re prescribing POMs, or you’re delivering any other clinic, you’ve got to think about how you can digitise them.
So that you can make it as convenient as possible for the patient to use the service.
Making it digital reduces the administrative burden for yourselves, and ultimately increases conversions.
That’s what I’m going to talk about now.
To demonstrate this, we’re going to focus on the following services that are in growing trend and popularity:
Prescribing POMs as an IP or through a PGD
And, what I’ve termed the more “Invasive Clinics” where you have to get more involved, such as a travel clinic or ear wax removal service.
As an IP, or if you’re working with a private doctor, you can offer all types of POMs, whether it be under the condition of Asthma, UTIs or Migraines, for example.
To make it as easy as possible for the patient to begin their consultation with you, you must digitise it.
And the best way to do this is through your website.
That’s why we had to build a solution for it.
Following a digital consultation, a patient can pay for their medicines online and collect them in your pharmacy, or have them delivered.
Let me give you a short tour of it right now…
A patient can select the condition that they are wanting to treat and learn about the treatments available under that condition.
They’ll then be able to begin a consultation via a risk assessment form online or by booking in for a virtual meeting with you.
This where you ask the questions required for supplying the medicine.
As an IP, you’re able to add and edit as many questions as you want, to make them unique to you.
Following the consultation, the patient can then choose which medicine they prefer to purchase.
They’ll then go through the checkout process where they can choose whether they want to collect in the pharmacy, or have it delivered.
And finally, they’ll be able to pay for the medicine online.
As a patient, I can access my personal dashboard and understand where my order is at in the process, and I can message the pharmacy directly too.
It doesn’t really get any easier than that as a consumer, and that patient pathway is in line with the current GPhC guidance.
Now as an IP, you’ll be notified of the order via email and you’ll see the order come through in the back of the system.
This is where you have to decipher if you’re happy with the consultation that’s just happened.
This is a very important step, and you have to be confident that the medicine they have selected is suitable for supply.
The GPhC are increasingly asking for evidence of intervention at this stage – so you have to make sure you can show it.
If you’re happy with everything, then you can approve the consultation.
This will automatically generate a private prescription for you, so you can dispense it.
That’s how you digitise your IP clinic and you can now service the entire UK if you wish with that system.
If you’re offering POMs through a PGD, you can use a variation of the system I’ve just shown you.
However, it also does depend on the PGD that you’re using, and it must comply with the regulation set by it.
But, as an example, let’s look at Norethisterone, which is a common treatment given under a PGD, for period delay.
Firstly, make sure you’ve got content on your website about it, whether that’s through a page or a blog.
But then you’ve got a few options about how your patient interacts with you.
If the PGD supplier has their own online portal, which a lot of them do, then we can redirect them to that system.
Alternatively, they may be able to go through the Ultimate PM software, which I’ve just shown you.
Or, the patient can access a booking calendar where several things can happen before dispensing:
They can book in to speak with the pharmacist virtually
You could ask them a series of questions, just as a risk assessment does
And you can take payment for the medication online before they pick up the medicine in-store
The virtual world is pretty boundaryless.
There’s loads of ways you can digitise the process but the way you do it depends on how you’re offering it.
So what about the more invasive clinics where you have to do a physical examination, injection or procedure?
Well, for some of them, I would always build a separate website around that particular service, and connect it to my main website.
That’s primarily because of the demand and search volume around them, and how much money you can make from it.
If you’re looking to really dominate your city, I would always create a separate website for your:
- Travel Clinic
- Weight Management
- Ear Wax Removal
I’d arrange the websites to be sub-sites, with links in between all of them, to maximise SEO, which I’ll get onto in a minute.
The next thing I need to consider is an online booking system. I touched on this just now.
And I’d always have a live chat system connected so that I can talk to my patients directly.
I’d also install a solution, such as Mailchimp, where I’m building a patient database.
That right there, is an immense, beautiful, digital, revenue-generating, sustainable clinical pharmacy ecosystem that can revolutionise your business.
But, once you get your digital base set up, it doesn’t right stop there.
We need to get people to find these services online, so we need to market ourselves.
So, what’s the best way of doing this?
Let’s split this into internal marketing and external marketing.
Internal being the patient base you already have, such as those on your PMR system and those people that walk into your pharmacy.
And external being those people who don’t know your pharmacy or services exist as yet.
If you’re an established Pharmacy and you already have a patient database in your PMR, that’s the first move you’ve got to consider.
They are your patients already, and they trust you. Trust is the biggest influencer in using a service.
So you’ve got to find a way to communicate with them digitally.
Also, get large, bright TV screens inside your pharmacy and the shop windows.
And, very importantly, get your team trained up and involved in the services.
Make them champions for particular clinics, and even incentivise them for getting people to sign up.
This can make a huge difference.
So that’s internal. What about external?
How are you going to influence them?
Well firstly, you’ve got to understand how people are searching for these services, and work from there.
Question: Any idea where people might be looking?
Yep, you guessed it. Google.
You have to start dominating this search engine locally.
In last years’ Show, I dedicated a whole session on SEO. It is truly business changing and cannot be ignored when offering private clinics.
There’s loads of information on our website about it, and I’ve popped a link to a great guide on there, that you can read later.
But to get to the top of Google immediately, whether that’s on Search or Maps, it’s all about Google Ads.
Again, I’ve popped a link on there to a comprehensive guide.
It’s a massively powerful tactic, but it’s important to know that Google have clamped down on advertising POMs and pharmacy-related services.
It’s because of the nature of the content. So you do need to tread carefully and that’s why LegitScript on there too.
This certification helps legitimise your business for the giant advertising platforms out there, like Facebook and Google.
And of course, we can’t forget about Social Media too, the best way to generate engagement in your Community.
Post about the services you’re offering, but make the posts as engaging as possible!
It’s pretty saturated, so you really need to cut through the noise with excellent content.
People want to see a video of their local pharmacist talking about these services and it’s the ultimate way to build trust.
As well as the biggies out there like Facebook, Insta and Google Business, it’s well worth exploring TikTok now too.
So, how do you get started?
Well, the first thing you need to do is to seek help.
You can’t do this on your own, and that’s why you have the amazing organisations in this expo today.
But the important first step is delivery.
You’ve got to make sure that you can deliver on the ground and give great customer service
And following that, a digital strategy needs to be developed that can be embedded into what you’re offering.
Whoever you work with, it’s important that they understand your business through and through.
Otherwise, you’ll spend a lot of time explaining what your business is and how it works.
But it all comes back to mindset and innovation, and a strong drive to change and evolve.
One of the big blockers in pharmacy today is time.
So you need to think about how you can release more of it to be able to head in this direction.
Are you ready to go beyond the boundaries of the NHS?
Are you ready to step into private clinical territory?
And are you ready to digitise with it and revolutionise your pharmacy.
My names Saam and thank you so much for listening.