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As a team deeply committed to the growth and success of pharmacy businesses, we’re thrilled to share the invaluable insights and actionable strategies that our CEO, Saam Ali, presented at The Pharmacy Business Conference. With a mission to empower pharmacy owners and professionals with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the intricacies of the digital landscape and drive sustainable business growth, we put together this presentation to help professionals boost their marketing strategies. Take a look at our presentation below:

The Presentation

Clicks to Conversions

A Summary

Digital marketing is imperative for any business, that includes your pharmacy or clinic. Now more than ever, establishing a robust online presence is not just advantageous, it’s essential for business growth and sustainability. With a staggering 82.8% of patients turning to search engines to find healthcare providers, the significance of digital visibility cannot be overstated. Our presentation delved deep into the nuances of digital transformation, offering practical insights and strategies to harness the immense potential of digital marketing.

Huge Demand for Clinical Services

Through extensive research and analysis, using premium tools like SEMrush, we can uncover untapped demand for pharmacy services online. From ear wax removal to weight management and travel clinics, there exists a wealth of opportunities waiting to be seized by pharmacies just like yours. By exploring specific search volumes for various services, we discovered the potential that exists within the UK’s healthcare market.

Every search query represents a potential customer seeking solutions, and it’s imperative that pharmacies position themselves strategically to meet this demand head-on. For example, every month the key phrase “pharmacy near me” gets 550,000 searches in the United Kingdom. Those could be potential new patients. Take a look at some of the other stats that we found.

clicks to conversions

Harnessing the Power of SEO

So, how can you tap into the demand within your local community? It’s simple, yet relatively complex still – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). By optimising content across your website and other digital platforms with targeted keywords and technical enhancements, pharmacies can improve the ranks of search engine results, capturing valuable organic traffic and converting leads into loyal customers. Our presentation provides actionable insights into effective SEO strategies, equipping you with the tools needed to elevate your digital presence and outshine the competition. And, if you are still unsure, our team is here to help, simply reach out to us.

Real-World Success Stories

Our presentation is not just theoretical; it is grounded in real-world success stories that underscore the tangible benefits of digital transformation. Through a compelling case study of Mark’s Pharmacy, we demonstrated how an integrated online ecosystem can drive remarkable growth across various clinic offerings – especially his weight management, pain and CAS clinics. From increased revenue to enhanced customer satisfaction, the results speak for themselves. We share insights into specific successes, such as spikes in hay fever injection bookings and fully booked clinics, painting a vivid picture of the transformative impact of digital strategies on business outcomes.

Looking Ahead

We’re excited about the endless possibilities that emerging technologies hold for pharmacy businesses. From AI-powered chatbots to personalised customer experiences, innovation thrives in the digital space. By embracing these technologies and staying ahead of the curve, pharmacies can not only survive but thrive in an ever-evolving landscape.

pharmacy business conference

You Need Help

Turning clicks to conversions is not just a concept but a tangible pathway to pharmacy business growth in the digital age. By embracing digital transformation, harnessing the power of SEO (and Paid Ads), and staying ahead of emerging trends, pharmacies can position themselves for long-term success in an increasingly competitive marketplace and our team can help. Take a look at the services that we offer:

Branding

“Branding gives your organisation an identity, makes your business memorable, encourages consumers to buy from you, supports your marketing and advertising, and brings your employees pride.” (Hubspot)

Your brand becomes even more important as you transition your business online and reach a wider audience. When a person has had great service from you, the first thing that they will remember when you pop onto their social media feed is the brand of your company. Our team at Pharmacy Mentor understands that branding is the centre point of the strategies we deliver for you online, and thus have developed several different pharmacy branding packs to help you stand out from the rest.

Website Design and Development

You should be investing as much in your digital ecosystem as you are in your physical premises. Why? Because that’s what your patients want. Make it as convenient as possible for them, and help them find you, rather than you finding them. Our expert project management and development teams ensure that every website is optimised for search engines from the outset. This means better visibility, more traffic, and higher conversions.

Unlike some providers who keep control over your site and data, we believe the power should remain in your hands. When you build with us, you own your website and all the patient data that comes with it. This independence is crucial for building long-term customer trust and for making business decisions that are best for you and your patients, without compromise.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

What’s the first thing you do when you want to access a service, whether that is an online or offline service? You guessed it. You pull out your smartphone, log onto Google Search or Maps, and type in a key phrase. From there, you’ll take action either in the form of booking online, calling, subscribing or hopping into your car and navigating to a destination. That’s why it is incredibly important that your pharmacy and the service you provide are positioned well online, in particular, on Google Maps and Search. Search Engine Optimisation helps you get found online for the services that you offer.

If your website’s content isn’t ranking on search engines, you won’t be getting the business that you want. Let us help you optimise your website and drive pharmacy footfall. Request a free SEO Audit today.

seo

Social Media Management

Social Media is a must-have pharmacy business tool. If you’re not using it, you’re doing a disservice to your community. That’s because they’re all on there, looking for health information and content, every single day. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Telegram, NextDoor, Google Business and the rest means that it is quicker and easier than ever before to reach your target audience. You can reach 10,000 people in the space of a day with one great video you publish.

Social Media can be a life-saving medium for your patients. Our team have supported 1000’s of pharmacy businesses with social media services since 2017, and we’re getting stronger by the day. Whether you’re a single pharmacy, a multiple or another healthcare provider, we’ve got the right social treatments for you.

Paid Advertising

We’re big on PPC and Meta Ads? Why? Because they work. But which type of ads depends on the service you’re offering. For example, we see much better results by doing PPC for Travel and Ear Wax Removal than using Meta. We’ve got the insight from doing this 100’s of times.

To begin reaching your audience quickly and generating conversions, simply get in touch with us, tell us your objectives, and we’ll build the campaign for you, professionally, ethically, and promptly. We’ll send you an analysis of the results from your Paid Ads, including how many people we reached around your pharmacy, how many clicks it received, what kind of engagement we produced, and how many leads we generated.

Service Specific Marketing

Whether you are boosting seasonal Flu Jabs, opening a new Travel Clinic or looking to promote your Weight Management services, our Service Specific Marketing is here to help you. Get in touch with our team today to find out more.

Video Production

With a shortened human attention span and a world saturated with content, companies are looking for ways to engage their audience more, and for longer. Pharmacies and other healthcare providers need to differentiate themselves from the competition to stay ahead of the game. And that’s what video is here to do. Video marketing not only drives conversions (by upto 80% in some cases), it strengthens the trust and credibility of your pharmacy. They are the most engaging piece of content and are socially shared more.

Embedding video marketing into your strategy is highly beneficial and will certainly have a positive impact on your business.

Turn Clicks to Conversions

To get help with your pharmacy marketing or to find out more about how our services can benefit your pharmacy, please get in touch with us, our team are here to help you.

Contact Us

pharmacy business conference 2024

Pharmacy Mentor are delighted to extend a warm invitation to all pharmacy owners, pharmacists, superintendents, and decision-makers across the UK to join us at the Pharmacy Business Conference 2024. Scheduled for Sunday, April 28th, 2024, at the esteemed Hilton London Wembley, this conference promises to be a transformative event for the community pharmacy landscape.

In a rapidly evolving healthcare environment, where NHS funding is increasingly directed towards service-led contractual frameworks, pharmacy professionals face unprecedented challenges. The Pharmacy Business Conference 2024 aims to confront these challenges head-on, offering valuable insights and strategies to navigate this dynamic landscape effectively.

Register Now

 

What You Can Expect

The conference boasts a comprehensive program designed to explore the future of community pharmacy from various perspectives. Here’s a glimpse of what attendees can expect:

Insights from the NHS: Gain invaluable insights into the evolving landscape of pharmacy services directly from NHS representatives. Understanding the shifting priorities and expectations from the NHS is crucial for aligning pharmacy services with broader healthcare objectives.

Innovative Strategies from Community Pharmacy Owners: Learn from successful case studies and innovative strategies implemented by community pharmacy owners who are pioneering new business models. These insights will provide actionable ideas to adapt and thrive in a changing market.

Perspectives from Pharmacy Leaders: Engage with pharmacy leaders who will offer valuable information on industry trends, providing actionable insights to drive success. Drawing from their extensive experience, these leaders will share valuable strategies for navigating challenges and capitalising on opportunities.

Interactive Workshops: Participate in interactive workshop sessions designed to address key challenges and opportunities. These workshops will facilitate practical learning and skill development, empowering attendees to implement effective strategies in their own pharmacy practices.

Networking Opportunities: Connect with industry peers, experts, and decision-makers during the conference. These networking opportunities are invaluable for fostering collaborations and connections that can propel pharmacy practices forward.

The Highlights

One of the highlights of the Pharmacy Business Conference 2024 is the participation of our Founder and CEO, Saam Ali. With over 18 years of experience and expertise in helping pharmacists enhance their marketing and online presence, Saam will be providing attendees with invaluable insights and strategies for success in this digital age.

The Agenda

The conference agenda features an array of engaging sessions, including keynote speeches, panel discussions, presentations, and interactive workshops. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from esteemed speakers such as Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the General Pharmaceutical Council, Janet Morrison, CEO of Community Pharmacy England, and other industry experts.

The agenda is carefully crafted to cover various aspects of community pharmacy, from clinical governance and OTC business growth to branding and marketing strategies. Attendees will gain practical knowledge and actionable insights that they can immediately apply to their pharmacy practices.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • 10:00 Registration / Breakfast
  • 11:00 Shailesh Solanki, Executive Editor, Pharmacy Business. Welcome speech. 
  • 10:35 Conference Chair. Why community pharmacy must create its own future.
  • 10:45 Opening Keynote. Pharmacy of Tomorrow.
  • 11:15 PANEL DISCUSSION Innovation in community pharmacy services (NHS and private)
  • 11:45 TABLE WORKSHOP Interactive table discussions utilising mobile app and action planning on the outcomes of the panel discussion.
  • 12:05 IQVIA PRESENTATION Based around data on how community pharmacists are performing, as opposed to how the multiples are performing. So what is the sweet spot in terms of where community pharmacists can operate?
  • 12:20 PRESENTATION The implications for good clinical governance when innovating community pharmacy services.
  • 12:35 Networking break (20mins)
  • 12:55 PRESENTATION Tips for growing your OTC business. 
  • 13:10 PRESENTATION More than just a logo
  • 13:30 TABLE WORKSHOP Interactive table discussions utilising mobile app and action planning on the previous two sessions
  • 14:00 Closing Keynote with questions Janet Morrison, CEO, CPE will explore the current situation and how their vision and plans will create the pharmacies of tomorrow.
  • 14:25 PANEL DEBATE Q&A with Pharmacy Leaders The panel will debate what needs to happen in the next 12-18 months to facilitate the pharmacy of tomorrow.
  • 14:55 Sum-up and close Conference Chair
  • 15:00 Lunch / networking

 

pharmacy business conference 2024

Who Should Attend

For those who are wondering whether this conference is suitable for them, the answer is simple: if you are a pharmacist, pharmacy owner, pharmacy manager, superintendent, or decision-maker, this event is tailored specifically for you. Whether you’re looking to expand your range of services, enhance your marketing efforts, or simply stay informed about the latest industry trends, the Pharmacy Business Conference 2024 has something valuable to offer.

How To Register

Registration for the Pharmacy Business Conference 2024 is free, but seats are limited. Interested individuals are encouraged to secure their place early to avoid disappointment. To register, simply visit the conference website and complete the registration form. Upon registration, attendees will receive a confirmation email with their tickets and additional information about the event.

Book Your Spot Today

The Pharmacy Business Conference 2024 presents a unique opportunity for pharmacy professionals to gain actionable insights, network with industry leaders, and equip themselves with the tools needed to thrive in the evolving landscape of community pharmacy. Don’t miss out on this chance to stay ahead of the curve and shape the future of pharmacy practice. Register now and join us for this exciting event!

Register Now
 

how blockchain will transform pharmacy
Blockchain is next up in our series of articles on how future technologies will impact Pharmacy. In this article, we’ll examine how other industries use Blockchain, how Pharmacy can adopt it, and how its impact will grow as technology advances. For a “Too Long; Didn’t Read” summary, scroll to the bottom.

Blockchain technology is a network of computers storing data transparently.

What is the Blockchain, and how does it work?

Blockchain technology is a network of recorded and verified transactions. It’s an auditor’s dream, because it tracks everything.

From a technical perspective, it’s quite complex, so let me explain it in layman’s terms.

Think of a big notebook that everyone can see, and anyone can add to. Every time someone adds a new note to the notebook, everyone can see it and know that it’s true. No one can change anything that’s already written in the notebook, so everyone knows that the information is secure.

Now imagine that instead of a notebook, we’re talking about a digital ledger. This ledger is stored on many different computers all around the world, and each computer has a copy of the ledger. When someone wants to add a new piece of information to the ledger, they have to get agreement from all the other computers in the network. Once everyone agrees that the new information is valid, it gets added to the ledger and can’t be changed.

This is what blockchain technology is all about – it’s a way of storing information on a network of computers that is secure and transparent. Because the dataset is distributed amongst many different computers, it’s almost impossible for anyone to hack or alter the information. And because everyone on the network can see the same information, there’s no need for a central authority to verify transactions. This is what makes it a powerful tool for all kinds of applications, from finance to healthcare.

How can Pharmacy harness Blockchain in the future?

The most obvious impacts of Blockchain on Pharmacy will be:

  • Blockchain Prescriptions
  • Increased Data Security
  • Audit Trails & Accountability
  • Secure supply chain & eliminating counterfeit medicine

Blockchain Prescriptions: A more secure future

Blockchain technology has the potential to enhance prescription security in a number of ways:

  1. Preventing prescription fraud: By using blockchain to store prescription data, pharmacies and healthcare providers can create a tamper-proof record of prescription information that can’t be easily altered. This prevents prescription fraud and improve patient safety, especially if we transitioned to an electronic-only system. Similar to how Blockchain would prevent a lot of money laundering if we lived in a cashless society. Ironically, with no cash or paper prescriptions, there’s always a “paper trail.”
  2. Improving prescription tracking: Blockchain can provide a secure and transparent ledger of drug transactions, from production to dispensation, which could improve drug traceability and prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain.
  3. Enhancing patient privacy: Pharmacies guarantee that patient data is kept private and secure by using blockchain to store patient prescription data. The security of data and personal information is guaranteed for patients sharing data through blockchain-based systems.
  4. Streamlining prescription filling: Blockchain would allow quick and secure accessing of patient prescription data, allowing more efficient and accurate dispensing. This reduces errors and improves patient outcomes.
  5. Compliance with regulations: Using blockchain for storing prescription data means pharmacies comply automatically with regulations and guidelines related to prescription data storage and sharing.

Overall, blockchain technology has huge potential for improving prescription security. It requires significant investment, but the potential benefits for prescription security are more significant.

Increased Data Security

Reece Samani on Protecting Patient Data

Many of the great benefits that Big Data & AI offer have a common issue – data privacy & security.

But Blockchain provides a secure and decentralised database. Blockchain’s resistance to hacking and cyber threats, makes it the solution, protecting patient data and preventing data breaches.

Audit Trails, Authentication & Accountability

Reece Samani on Auditing Telemedicine Prescribing

A big issue within Pharmacy is practitioners going rogue: prescribing without need, overprescribing, under-dispensing and other fraudulent activities.

Blockchain, when combined with the Internet of Things, Big Data & AI, eliminates most, if not all the possibility for this to happen, especially not more than once.

Blockchain technology means that everything anyone does is traced back to them, or their log-in. It also tracks all the medicine across the supply chain, from source to dispensary.

The Big Data of the healthcare network includes the entire history of actions and behaviours by pharmacists across the industry in any particular network (e.g. the NHS).

Artificial Intelligence constantly scans this huge amount of data, learning what are and aren’t “typical” behaviours from pharmacists, suppliers, delivery drivers, you name it.

A fully blossomed Internet of Things links all devices across the same network and monitors activity, further increasing this paperless paper trail of actions.

All of these technologies working together combine in a way where, not unlike The Police’s creepy song about a stalker, every move you make, every step you take, the system is watching you.

It becomes very difficult to break the rules. For an industry which absolutely requires stringent regulation, this is only a good thing.

Secure supply chain & eliminating counterfeit medicine

Blockchain allows the tracking of drug movements all the way from manufacturer to the patient’s doorstep. This helps prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain and improves drug traceability.

By using blockchain technology, the pharmacy industry can ensure a secure and transparent supply chain, which helps to eliminate the entry of counterfeit medicines into the market. Since blockchain technology tracks every drug’s movement from the manufacturer to the patient’s doorstep, it becomes easy to trace the drug’s origins and detect any signs of tampering or counterfeiting.

Each time a new transaction occurs in the supply chain, it’s added to the blockchain. This creates an immutable record that cannot be altered.

This record includes details like the:

  • Date and time of the transaction,
  • Parties involved
  • Location of the transaction.

So any fraudulent activity can be detected quickly, and the drug can be traced back to its source.

As counterfeit medicines pose a significant threat to public health, ensuring drug traceability using blockchain technology can help prevent these dangerous drugs from entering the supply chain.

TL;DR?

There’s absolutely no question that technology enhances and enables better work from good pharmacists.

Blockchain technology however has enormous potential for reducing bad or illegal practice above all else. Especially regarding prescription security, supply chain transparency, and data security.

By leveraging blockchain technology, pharmacies create a tamper-proof record of prescription data that is secure, transparent, and easily accessible, while also complying with regulatory guidelines and providing better patient outcomes.

Although utilising Blockchain technology presents its own challenges, the potential benefits of blockchain technology for the pharmacy industry are more than worth it.

My only hope throughout writing this series of guides on future technology in Pharmacy is that the industry adopts them faster than they adopted digitisation.

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Your pharmacy business begins and ends with your people. As a Community Pharmacy, the numbers say that, on average, your people are probably unhappy. Let’s look at how to flip that script.
hands on a table signifying team culture

Get everyone bought in.

What do the numbers say about Pharmacy Culture?

  • Only 17% of Pharmacy Owners think every member of their pharmacy team operates with a unique set of values they want their pharmacy to be known for, according to our Perfect Pharmacy Scorecard.
  • Pharmacy technicians rate their career happiness 2.8 out of 5 stars which puts them in the bottom 15% of careers. (CareerExplorer.com)
  • Just 16% of the 2,694 pharmacy students in a joint study between Health Education England and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society chose community pharmacy over hospital pharmacy.

This doesn’t paint a great picture of working life in a Pharmacy. There’s clearly a disconnect between top and bottom. Pharmacy Owners want their teams performing better, and the teams just don’t seem motivated.

So many pharmacists we speak to cite being short-staffed as the main problem they’re dealing with right now. Couple that with Locum rates being so high, and there’s something of a staffing epidemic in Community Pharmacy.

Changing the narrative

Most pharmacies are currently in a vicious circle. The work is stressful, the employees get stressed and demotivated. A demotivated, depressing environment isn’t appealing for prospective new team members and so you end up stuck with the demotivated, overworked team.

What we want is a virtuous circle. Creating an environment where your pharmacy team loves working makes that environment appealing for job applicants.

So how do we move from that vicious circle to a virtuous cycle? Implementing culture that incorporates your team.

Creating your Pharmacy Culture

Building a positive culture in your Pharmacy team can have numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved patient outcomes
  • Increased job satisfaction amongst team members
  • Reduced staff turnover

Here are 7 steps for building a good team culture in your pharmacy:

1. Clearly define the values and goals of the team

What kind of pharmacy do you want to be?

Remember that values and Pharmacy Culture aren’t about what you do, it’s about the way you do it.

If your team understands and buys into the mission and values of the organisation, their performance aligns parallel.

Your culture comes from the top, from your passion as a leader. This means you need passion for your values! People follow leaders for their passion and because they align with their vision. You’re the driving force of your pharmacy.

Do you show up with passion and drive every day, and lead by example?

2. Foster open communication and transparency

Encourage sharing ideas, concerns, and feedback openly and honestly throughout your team. Giving people agency and control in their role both helps their sense of worth and productivity within your pharmacy.

Do this by sharing your own thoughts and visions for your pharmacy’s strategy with your team. Sharing begets sharing.

3. Show appreciation and give recognition

Let team members know that their contributions are valued and appreciated. This is as simple as saying thank you or recognising their efforts in team meetings, but make sure it’s sincere. This small gesture goes a long way.

4. Encourage personal and professional growth

Offer your team opportunities for developing their skills and advancing their careers. People invest in their own development. Offering development opportunities makes them invest themselves with your pharmacy.

5. Promote work-life balance

Help team members find a healthy balance between their work and personal lives. This can include offering flexible work schedules or providing resources to support employee well-being.

Naturally, if you’re already short-staffed, you might feel this is impossible. You need them to work, right?

You have options.

Investing in technology and automating your team’s most repetitive or time-consuming tasks is a major solution here.

Talk to your team, let them know you’re grateful for their efforts and, whilst it’s a struggle hiring locums and/or new staff, you’re investing in taking the pressure off them.

6. Foster a collaborative and supportive work environment

Encourage team members to work together and support one another. This can include things like providing opportunities for teamwork and building strong relationships amongst team members.

Again, lead by example on this.

The junior members of your team aren’t there to lend the senior members help exclusively – and often the junior members of the team are the ones who need the most help.

7. Lead by example

I’ve said this about three times already throughout this guide, because it’s critical to your culture.

As a leader, it is important to model the behaviour you want to see in your team.

If you never take a break, it makes your team feel like they can’t take a break. That’s not setting the right tone.

Being open and transparent, showing appreciation and respect for team members, and acting with integrity? That’s setting a great tone.


We understand that life in Community Pharmacy is usually high-speed, and can be very stressful. There are external influences that make the job harder e.g. drug prices or the GP surgery not sending a patient’s RX on time. These are not within your control.

However, your “culture” is within your control, and you have the power to shape and nurture that. It’s not easy, but the rewards make it worth it for you, your team and your patients.

This article was written by JP, our Brand Content Editor who has been with PM since the early days and has extensive experience in working with multidisciplinary teams, with the help of Saam, a pharmacist by trade and our CEO, and who has extensive experience in leading teams in both the pharmacy and digital worlds.

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12 tiktok pharmacy tips
As a pharmacist, you’re 100% forgiven for not being “up” on TikTok. But these 12 tips will get you up and running with a Pharmacy TikTok account.

tiktok logo

Want to start a Pharmacy TikTok account? You’ve come to the right place.

Everything You Need to start posting on TikTok

  • One smartphone with a camera
  • The TikTok app
  • One TikTok Account (with unique username & profile picture)

And that’s it.

12 Pharmacy TikTok Tips

Getting involved with TikTok is honestly pretty simple, because it’s a platform where no one expects perfection. But with these 12 tips, you’ll feel like a pro in no time.

1. It’s never too late

Whilst it might feel that the TikTok ship has sailed, it isn’t too late to jump on. The immediacy and short-term nature of the platform means that, provided your content delivers value, you’ll attract followers and views. When it comes to having a TikTok presence, there’s no time like the present.

2. Remember, you’re a pharmacy

Silly dances and pouting isn’t necessary for success on TikTok. Whilst showing a personal side is encouraged, it isn’t necessary.

Pharmacies can create TikTok content around:

  • Mental health issues
  • Correct Medicine Use
  • Product Demonstrations
  • Behind the scenes – pill sorting and cream mixing is incredibly popular on TikTok!
  • Common minor ailments and treatments
  • Healthcare myth-busting
  • And so much more!

Really, the skies the limit. Get creative, or check out other Pharmacy Content Creators for ideas (just don’t rip people off!)

3. Think about who’s watching

You might think TikTok is a young person’s game and that your audience is, well, the opposite. But anxiety, and associated prescriptions are, unfortunately, on the rise.

And Gen Z are the primary sufferers and most at risk of anxiety, with excessive use of social media central in theories as to why this is.

Exploring medicine use and offering helpful advice around this subject, as well as many other mental health issues, would be a fantastic and engaging issue for exploring with your content.

TikTok is no longer just for young people, either. Like most apps that start this way, the target market has expanded with its popularity. The app has been downloaded 2 billion times globally. That’s a lot more people than just children!

4. Be prolific, not perfect

TikTok users are familiar with handheld videos recorded on phones – Hollywood edited videos aren’t necessary for success on this platform. Posting more often is far more useful than worrying about appearing polished.

In fact, more polished videos seem less genuine and your audience won’t engage as openly with them as a result. In real life, not every sentence you say is perfect, and nor should it be on TikTok.

The whole point is building a relationship with your community, which doesn’t happen if you only show up every few months. The more regularly you post, the better your results become.

5. Have a goal in mind

Building an audience is always a solid marker, as the more followers you have, the better the perception of your brand when new people encounter you. But building an audience is not the end goal.

Ultimately the end goal is nurturing trust with your audience and developing engagement.

6. Utilise your team

Whilst the younger members of your pharmacy team won’t have as much pharmacy experience as more senior members, they almost certainly have more TikTok experience. Use that! Offer them a pay rise and make creating content part of their job description, or give them cash incentives per video. That goes for the stars of the video too, not just whoever’s filming it.

Many staff members might feel uncomfortable on camera, which is fine. But with the right incentives, they might feel more comfortable

Encouraging having fun with the videos suddenly makes the task more appealing.

However you do it, getting someone who’s comfortable with the platform makes the process much easier.

7. Engage with others

It isn’t all about creating your own content. Follow healthcare hashtags, follow other small businesses in your community and comment on their content.

Start conversations that aren’t in your own environment, and you’ll attract people back to yours.

8. Reuse your content on other platforms

If you’re considering entering the TikTok space, the likelihood is you’re already on at least one of Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. TikTok content works well on other platforms! Don’t be shy in spreading your videos across your other platforms.

Do you have digital screens in your Pharmacy? Get your videos playing on your screen and bring the fun into your pharmacy! This also helps boost your followers as people in your pharmacy realise you’re on TikTok.

9. Short, sweet, and straight into the good stuff

Jump straight into the content of your video and try to keep videos between 15-30 seconds. Longer videos are okay occasionally, but people can immediately see if a video is long, and it’s possible that deters them from watching any of it.

10. Link your website in your profile

Your digital marketing works best if things flow nicely. Someone sees your TikTok video demonstrating how lip fillers are professionally applied might want to use you for their treatment.

They’ll click on your profile, and find out more.

Optimise your profile, and maximise the exposure to your pharmacy services.

The Day Lewis Pharmacy Profile doesn’t include its website link, and it’s missing a trick.

11. Use Hashtags!

#pharmacy #health #advice #CityName #TownName #PharmTok

Without hashtags, the TikTok algorithm doesn’t know what your content is about, so it won’t show it to people who like content associated with those subjects. Always hashtag your location, especially as a local community pharmacy. You’re fostering a community, what better place to start than…people in your community!

12. Track & Analyse

If you’re not measuring what you’re doing, you’ve no idea if it’s going to be effective or not. You know this, you’re a pharmacist.

Check your videos and discover which type works best. Double down on what works, and ditch what doesn’t!

If something really doesn’t look great on your account, you can always delete it later!

TikTok has its own inbuilt analytics, but these are only accessible with “Pro” accounts.

How do you get a Pro account?

Manage my account > Switch to Pro account > Select “Pharmacy” Industry > Your TikTok account will reload with the analytics section.

And that’s a wrap!

Those 12 tips are more than enough to get any Pharmacy started on TikTok…so in the words of Shia Laboeuf…

what are you waiting for? just do it!

Interested in setting up a TikTok account and having the account managed by us? We can help. Simply get in touch.

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

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

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

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

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

Will my pharmacy benefit from a Prescription Collection Machine?

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

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

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

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

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

How do Prescription Collection Machines work?

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

The core mechanics of how they work:

  • Step 1

    Script is Processed

    The prescription is processed in the normal way and bagged up

  • Step 2

    Scan the Barcode

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

    Step 2

  • Step 3

    Place inside Prescription Collection Machine

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

  • Step 4

    "Prescription Ready" Text Alert

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

    Step 4

  • Step 5

    Patient Collects Medication

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

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

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

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

Managing the Cost of Investing in Machinery

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

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

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

Prescription Collection Machine Suppliers

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

Pharmaself24

Pharmaself24, a product of Videosystems, and now being distributed throughout Great Britain by Omnicell, are the market leaders in Automated Prescription Collection. This dynamic is important because it couples the market leading machines with Omnicell’s vast experience in automating retail pharmacy.

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

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

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

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

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

Omnicell Pharmaself 24 Features

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

MedPoint

MedPoint is a really solid option, offering three unique model sizes, the i900, i1200, and i1500. (The numbers represent width in cm.) The one that struck us most here was the MedPoint SOLO, designed to be separate to the Pharmacy.

A unique opportunity with MedPoint SOLO

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

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

(This machine is a demonstration model.)

 

The MedPoint also integrates with a growing list of PMR Providers: Titan, Proscript, Positive Solutions, Cegedim PMRs and the BeWell patient app, with more in the pipeline.

Whilst MedPoint doesn’t have the large glowing logo on the front, they do show lighting consideration for users with their external light.

MedPoint’s unique barcode-led process helps minimise the risk of the wrong patient getting the wrong bag, significantly enhancing safety by eliminating human error.

MedPoint Features

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

Pharmabox 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pharmabox24 Features

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

Summary

Ultimately, your pharmacy will have its own specific needs.

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

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

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

Increasing Pharmacy Sales with your existing patients

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

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

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

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

The difference between Cross-Selling & Upselling

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

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

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

Balancing cross-selling with speedy service

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

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

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

6 Simple, Effective Questions for Counter Sales

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

“How are you doing today?” 

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

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

Have you considered using X and Y?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is there anything else bothering you at the moment?

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

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

Are you going anywhere on holiday this year?

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

Did you know you can get your flu jab here?

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

Utilising leaflets

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

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

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

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

Increasing Pharmacy Sales through incentivising employees

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

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

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

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

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

A real-world pharmacy application

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

This is a great chance to spark a conversation:

HCA – “Are you going anywhere nice?” 

Customer – “We’re off to Morocco”

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

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

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

Your Attitude Matters

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

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

Don’t diminish your reputation for profit

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

What should I cross-sell?

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

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

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

Have a focus, but remain flexible

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

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

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

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Ultimate Guide to Black Friday & Cyber Monday for Pharmaciy
Black Friday & Cyber Monday starts on the final Friday of November. This year, it will fall on 25th November. This guide shows you everything you need for making a massive boom in your pharmacy’s bottom line this Black Friday weekend.

What is Black Friday & Cyber Monday?

Black Friday & Cyber Monday are Red Letter Days when it comes to shopping. In recent times, they’ve been joined by “Small Business Saturdays,” where supporting local businesses is encouraged. But by and large, Black Friday & Cyber Monday are the attention grabbers.

Black Friday

Black Friday is a significant date because it’s the first weekend after the final payday before Christmas. The event pre-dated offers and promotions, and was simply a date where most people would conduct their Christmas shop.

Over time, that overwhelming volume of shoppers drove competition between businesses, who’ve steadily driven down prices in attempts to lure customers through their doors.

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is a more recent addition, created by retailers to encourage eCommerce spend and traditionally offers deals on smaller electronic goods and items. It is only really a thing because of Black Friday.

However, with the rise in prominence of eCommerce in recent years, Cyber Monday is actually bigger than Black Friday!

How much do people spend on Black Friday weekends?

The average UK consumer is predicted to spend £283 over the Black Friday weekend, a whopping 25% increase from last year, according to research from Emarsys.

“But there’s a Cost of Living crisis!” I hear you yelling in your brain at me. “Surely people will spend less?!”

It’s precisely because there’s an economic downturn that people will spend more on Black Friday.

With less money to spend, people want more bang for their proverbial buck. Saving 30% on your overall Christmas spend sounds far more attractive when you’re spending 70% more on heating your house.

So let’s get into how you and your pharmacy make Black Friday & Cyber Monday work for you.

1. Pick your promotions and choose your discounts carefully

Standing out on Black Friday is massively down to what your promotions are, and what they include.

Balancing that with remaining profitable is where the sweet spot in the Venn diagram is.

Offering 90% discounts gets you noticed, but leaves you out of pocket.

Offering 5% discounts keeps your margins high, but won’t attract loads of new business.

Figuring out the best promotions depends on what you offer as a pharmacy, who your local community are, and who your competitors are.

Be careful (read also: Don’t do this) around including things like Emergency Contraception in promotions. Boots did this and faced a lot of backlash, suggesting if they could afford to make the prices lower, they should do that permanently.

Luxury, cosmetic and retail items are your candidates. Urgent health necessities should be avoided.

The opportunity of Black Friday weekend is bigger than the weekend

And don’t forget that attracting new business generates more awareness for your pharmacy in the future. If you made a small loss on Black Friday weekend but gained hundreds of new patients going forwards, that’s potentially a worthwhile trade-off.

For example, offering a heavy discount on a new service, like Ear Health Clinics, gives people a reason to try your service instead of their regular provider. Blow them away with your service, and you become their new regular provider. Private healthcare services like this help you stand out on Black Friday, because most retailers cannot offer them, making it unique.

2. Utilise your Social Media platforms

A pharmacy’s social media followers have almost certainly visited the pharmacy before and enjoyed the experience. Why else would they follow you on Social Media?

It’s a no-brainer to promote your deals to your own community, those who trust you are your most likely visitors.

How much promotion is too much promotion? The 80/20 rule is a good rule of thumb. If 80% of your content is organic, community-based posts for your community, 20% can be promotional. If you post five times a day, one of these can be a Black Friday post. Five times a week? One of these can be a Black Friday post.

Please don’t post the same post over and over again. That’s how you lose followers.

Also, bear in mind you’re adding to a lot of Black Friday noise – try and stand out with your content as well as your offers.

3. Send Black Friday Promos to your Mailing List (if you have one!)

Emails are one of the best options for getting your promotions out to your community. Why? Because unlike with social media, you guarantee that the email is sent to the recipient. Yes, they may not check their emails, and yes they might not open your email, but it guarantees that chance.

Social media, unless your post has attracted a lot of engagement, may only be seen by 10% of your following.

Emails get sent to every single person on your mailing list.

Don’t have a mailing list for your pharmacy? Read, (or bookmark to read later) our complete guide to Email Marketing for Pharmacies.

Sending an email a week before your Black Friday deals, the day before, and on the day, makes sure you’re at the forefront of people’s minds when they’re thinking of the deals they can get.

So if you do have a mailing list, use it! (And if you don’t have one, get one!)

4. Beat your competitors’ Black Friday deals

Black Friday was borne out of competition for consumers’ attention, and it remains the tinder on which the money in consumer’s pockets burn.

Paying attention to your competition is critical.

After all, it doesn’t matter if you’re offering 20% off if a pharmacy across the road is offering 30% off everything. There’s loyalty to your pharmacy, but there’s also loyalty to one’s own bank accounts.

5. Don’t be afraid of spending money (especially promoting eCommerce offers!)

If you’ve got an eCommerce arm to your pharmacy business, capitalising on Cyber Monday is an option you shouldn’t overlook.

With the potential to make multiple thousands of pounds in retail sales, spending a couple of hundred pounds guaranteeing people find your website and products isn’t a bad idea.

With both Google Ads & Facebook Ads, your discounts and offers can be seen by thousands of people on a weekend where spending money is at the forefront of their minds.

If, because you’re a pharmacist and not a digital marketer, you want help managing digital advertising, we can help.

6. Feature your products in your promotions!

It isn’t enough to say 20% off everything in-store, especially when, as a pharmacy, you’ll have to put the dreaded asterisk* against everything* to exclude prescription medication.

When every retailer is offering these discounts, yours won’t stand out.

Feature and promote the products you believe generate the most excitement in your store, like NuroKor or Fitness trackers! Discounts on bigger ticket items are the most enticing reason people visit specific retailers.

So if you’re discounting them…feature them in your promotions!

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pharmacy iot
The Internet of Things (IoT) is next up in our series of articles on how Future Technologies will impact pharmacy. In this article, we’ll examine how other industries use IoT, how pharmacy currently utilises it, and how its impact will grow as technology advances.

What is the Internet of Things (IoT) and how does it work?

The Internet connects computers across the world across the same network (the world wide web). The Internet of Things works in a similar way, but instead of Personal Computers (PC’s), it connects…well, things.

The “things” in question are manufactured with components that can communicate with other devices and send data through signals, as well as their primary function. These are “Smart” devices. Things like smartphones and Smart TVs are already ingrained into the fabric of the modern world.

The Internet of Things is growing

Increasingly, entire households are becoming “smart”, controlled via a Home Device like the Amazon Echo or Google Dot.

Inhabitants can simply declare, “Alexa, it’s dark in the lounge” and the lounge lights up. Or, “Alexa, it’s party time!” and be greeted by Despacito, a whole different lighting arrangement, and the jacuzzi firing up.

IoT technology works by connecting all these devices to a centralised CPU, which processes, organises and analyses all the data sent to it from each connected device. In industrial usage, the central processing unit often configures and facilitates the devices communicating and interacting with each other, too.

Healthcare should focus on providing the best care, not caring about the best provider.

The future is automated

This all happens without human interaction, barring setting up the device and its instructions.

The Internet of Things is still in its infancy, like the rest of the technology in “Industry 4.0.”  And like most of these fields, it benefits from its interactions with other technology, such as Artificial Intelligence & Big Data. With every passing day, more devices are becoming “smart”, and optimising their use for how we live.

But let’s explore how it’s currently utilised, before taking a prospective look at how pharmacies can harness it further.

How is IoT currently used in Pharmacy?

Manufacturing, supply chain management, and warehousing all use IoT along the production and storage chain.

If you’re a frontline pharmacist, you’re wondering when any of this technology affects you in your pharmacy. Just like all technology, when it’s first released, it’s generally super expensive and not worth the investment for smaller businesses.

But as the IoT technology grows cheaper, the good news is that pharmacy IoT almost certainly brings massive improvements for patient care.

How can Pharmacy harness IoT further in the future?

Whilst, in the changing landscape of Earth 4.0, anything is feasibly possible, I’ll restrict this section to the imaginable impact.

  • Monitoring the “Cold Chain” of refrigerated drugs.
  • Improved treatment quality
  • Smart wearables monitoring and linking patient health data to the PMR.

Smart wearables and digital health tech

Monitoring medicine use, as well as the impact of medicine on things like heart rates, and blood sugar spikes. This could radically improve the New Medicine Service. Imagine patients taking home specific wearables or sensors with them when starting a new treatment and new medicines.

Monitoring someone’s health remotely and automatically during a period of new treatment?

Now that’s smart.

Monitoring the Cold Chain of refrigerated drugs

IoT devices already check and control temperatures of food. Think sensors with medicine that detect if they’ve been outside controlled temperatures long enough to spoil. Barring technology malfunction, which is rare, the efficiency and assurance of drug controls skyrockets, when you have paper trail proof the drugs have never gone above a certain temperature.

Improved treatment quality

As we touched on in the future tech guides to AI and Big Data, ultimately, the more data you’re working with when consulting a patient, the more informed your judgments are. That’s only a good thing when it comes to patient outcomes.

A great example here is tracking outpatients rehab/recovery with Smart devices, guaranteeing patients adhere to drugs and physio exercises by having them having to record it with a smart device, either one that dispenses the drugs at the right time, or one that detects the motion necessary for someone completing rehab exercises.

The major difference-maker

The biggest impact of an IoT pharmacy, in particular community pharmacies, is in enabling pharmacies’ evolution towards becoming the first point of contact for healthcare.

Let’s demonstrate with a simple example of this in action.

Patient X has diabetes.

Monitoring diabetes includes:

  • Blood glucose levels
  • Blood pressure
  • Weight
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Heart health
  • Sleep
  • Mood
  • Medications
  • Eye, kidney, and foot health.

Patient X consents to data sharing between their devices and their Patient Medication Record in the pharmacy.

Some of these are easier to monitor from home than others. So Patient X wears a smart heart rate monitor measuring both sleep and heart rate, and weighs themselves regularly on smart weighing scales.

If the smart devices detect data out of healthy ranges, the PMR raises an amber or red warning on Patient X’s record, which automatically triggers an SMS & email being sent advising the patient to visit the pharmacy.

The pharmacist then performs a range of checks, exploring the patient’s health more extensively.

The patient is then advised further: either referred, or advised on further monitoring and behavioural precautions.

This gives the patient more control and agency over their health, whilst not letting poor health slip through the cracks just because it wasn’t in line with a 6-monthly health checkup.

What are the challenges in adopting an IoT Pharmacy Practice?

Whilst IoT tech undoubtedly has benefits for pharmacy, like all things, there’s always risk involved and different challenges posed.

Here are a few of the major challenges pharmacy will face when further integrating IoT into standard practice:

  • Data Security & Privacy
  • Universal Functionality & Integration
  • IoT is 24/7/365
  • Internet Connectivity
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Current limitations of IoT

Data Security & Privacy

This is the biggest issue surrounding IoT technology. Though it feels unavoidable with Smart Cities developing all over the world. How do you opt-out of IoT when you live in a Smart City?

But the point stands. There are a whole raft of issues when it comes to patient data, especially when you’re entering the realm of real-time monitoring and Big Data. With a data leak, hackers aren’t just accessing that Patient Y has IBS, they’re potentially accessing what their current blood sugar levels are. Scary potentials follow with possible uses of that information.

Universal Functionality & Integration Issues

What happens if Apple develops a great network of devices that all work harmoniously with one another, but then Google brings out a revolutionary singular device that massively improves patient outcomes? Google’s tech historically tends not to work with Apple. But healthcare should focus on providing the best care, not caring about the best provider.

Your Alexa not synchronising with your iPhone is an inconvenience.

The fact that situations such as this might arise in healthcare is unconscionable.

Morally, innovation in healthcare tech shouldn’t be exclusive.

IoT is 24 hours a day

Whilst hopefully the automated nature of the technology means you don’t need 24/7 human monitoring, it may mean requiring the technology being left switched on 24 hours a day. Hopefully that’s all handled on cloud servers and this is a non-issue. But if it is, then keeping your systems online all day could run up costs.

Cost-effectiveness

Continuing that thread, the overall cost of these devices needs paying by someone. Unless the NHS, (or your respective healthcare system) is going to front the investment for these costs some day, pharmacies must invest in their own progress as usual.

That said, pharmacies fulfilling this role in the healthcare of local communities means there’s potentially more substantial contracts from the NHS. So it’s an investment for generating more revenue at the other end (as you’d hope most investments are!).

Current limitations of IoT tech

Before IoT becomes universal, there are a few barriers the technology itself must overcome.

  • Battery life on devices
  • The distance between device and receiver currently only works via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, severely limiting its range.
  • More compatible devices (currently limited by demand and expense at the moment.)

An IoT pharmacy would improve patient care, and we need to embrace IoT as soon as possible.

All in all, if we’re using smart sensors for cooking steaks to perfect temperatures, it seems about time as a society that we began investing into more technology for keeping people healthy.

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6 unusual pharmacy partners
Making partnerships in your community is a great way of increasing your community presence and growing your business.

The reality when looking for pharmacy partners, is that striking up relationships with any business in your community is possible. Whilst partnering with the local GP surgery goes without saying, there are other partnerships with natural two-way referrals that often go unexplored.

1. Gyms & Leisure Centres

We’ll start with perhaps the most obvious pharmacy partners of the bunch, the place where people either live or avoid…the gym.

The exact nature of the partnership may depend on what your pharmacy offers, and what type of facility you’re partnering with. For example, a relaxed spa-type leisure centre may prove a better partner for a Health Food Pharmacy or an Aesthetics specialist. More of your iron-pumping, gut-crunching, throwing tyres at punching bags gyms may refer more naturally to a pharmacy with a good range of supplements.

woman lifting weights at the gym

2. Travel Agents

Errr…do I really need to explain this one?

The unusual thing about this partnership is that it shouldn’t be unusual. Travel Agents make excellent pharmacy partners. But many pharmacists don’t bother building relationships with Travel Agents.

Sure, there’s very little chance of you being able to refer them business, but perhaps offering a discounted rate for their referrals gives them an extra value proposition to their clients.

High street travel agents might be less likely to partner (though you don’t ask, you don’t get) but self-employed Independent Travel Agents are increasingly common.

You’ll often find them on Instagram, so reach out to them and ask! Even if you get blanked, what has it cost? And what do you stand to gain? The risk/reward is so disproportionate, the only reason I can think of that more pharmacies don’t do this is that they’ve not thought of it.

So, you’re welcome.

a message on instagram reaching out to an independent travel agent to propose becoming pharmacy partners

A direct message (DM) sent on Instagram.

3. Furniture Shops

This is definitely a bit more left field, but there’s definitely scope for back and forth between a pharmacy dealing with people with posture and mobility issues and furniture shops which provide specialist furniture to support these issues.

Whether it’s a patient complaining about back pain despite being given the right treatment, or a customer purchasing a bed or a chair who complains about chronic or debilitating pain, there’s room for both parties to refer to each other for additional support.

The large furniture retailers are probably harder to contact, but if you focus on smaller, local businesses, firing them an email is again a very small output of time for the potential of a partnership.

bed with mattress

4. Personal Trainers/Yoga Instructors

Both personal trainers and Yoga Instructors work very closely with people actively taking measures to improve their health.

They also tend to have good ongoing relationships with their clients, and are trusted sources of advice.

Reaching out to these people for a referral exchange? Recommend them to patients looking to get more active, and they recommend patients to you for things like joint supports, supplements, etc. It’s an unusual partnership with a very normal business relationship.

yoga class led by instructor

5. Sports Clubs

Sports clubs are pillars in their communities, and great for bringing people together. They also help keep communities active and healthy, aligning with your goals as a pharmacy (pun intended.)

There’s a range of clubs in most communities, all of which make excellent partners for community pharmacies:

  • Tennis Clubs
  • Football Clubs
  • Athletics Clubs (including Running & Cycling Groups)
  • Rugby Clubs
  • Golf Clubs
  • Crown Green Bowls

Every one of those sports routinely sees minor injuries which don’t need a doctor or a hospital – but often need treatment. And more often than not, they go without treatment, because there is no obvious solution.

Making your local sports clubs aware of your offering and how you can provide a service to their members’ problems is simply a matter of having a conversation and, as with most partnerships, putting up some posters & leaflets around the club.

How can you refer people to sports clubs?

Perhaps you can’t refer people to the sports clubs. Unless you have a fantastic relationship with them and are encouraging more rigorous exercise, it’s likely not a natural course of conversation. But there are multiple ways of reciprocating value:

  • Supplying First Aid Kits
  • Sponsoring Their Kits
  • Offering free assessments for any sports injuries
  • Featuring their posters on your noticeboard.

There’s another set of clubs you can target, namely societies at Universities. But that is such a big opportunity, it deserves its own section.

girls playing volleyball in a sports hall

6. Universities, Societies & Student Unions

There’s a wide range of opportunities for partnerships between pharmacies and universities. It’s a partnership with a lot of potential both ways.

Firstly, in the UK at least, the wait for a university doctor is extensive. Pharmacies offering initial health consultations as an alternative could see a wave of demand from young people with disposable income.

But here are some of the other ways you could provide a value proposition to both the university and its students:

  • Sexual Health Awareness Days
  • Women’s Health Clinics
  • Travel Clinics for Gap Years, Placements & International Students
  • Sports societies for all the same reasons as Sports Clubs
  • Alternative to University Doctor

Driving students into your pharmacy comes with great cross-selling opportunities. Hangover remedies, noise-cancelling earplugs for sleeping, contraception…the list goes on, especially once you’ve talked to the person and understood what their particular needs and circumstances are.

university students

Partnerships shape businesses

One major partnership can revolutionise businesses. Where previously it made no sense to stock certain products, with the right partnerships, they could be your best sellers. It’s worth considering what you’re open to offering, as well as what you do offer when you head into these discussions with potential partners.

Finding Pharmacy Partners is easier online

Whilst meeting face-to-face is always better for building relationships, you understandably won’t have time to schedule meetings all over town.

This is where emails or social media are your friends. Especially a great social media presence.

What’s the first thing you’d do when assessing whether or not a business held any sway with its community?

Pretty much the only thing you can do to assess it. You’d check out how many followers they had, and what kind of engagement they get on their posts.

Of course, that isn’t strictly necessary. If you don’t have a great social media presence, don’t let that stop you from reaching out.

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