Bricks and clicks: a winning formula
By Jeremy Meader
Bricks and mortar pharmacies have gone above and beyond to serve local communities throughout the pandemic. While distance selling pharmacies (DSPs) have seen healthy growth in online prescription volumes, community pharmacies have remained at the forefront of 'personal', everyday healthcare.
Running a community pharmacy during a global pandemic has certainly reinforced the need for agility and convenience. Changing patient needs have paved the way for offering customers the best of both worlds moving forward: digital convenience and home deliveries with access to face-to-face professional advice and support.
The fabric of community pharmacy is rooted in never breaking the link between patient and local healthcare professional. Retaining that essential line of communication is a winning combination and should be celebrated and maximised as a leading competitive edge against DSPs. Bricks and clicks should not be mutually exclusive; with the right investment and support, community pharmacy can do both very well.
local pharmacies are crying out for more support to help them make those changes and bolster their status as a critical third pillar of the NHS
The friendly human connection that expert local pharmacies offer is a core attribute for future growth. Bricks and mortar pharmacies should not be sidelined, but supported and equipped to digitise as much as possible, without compromising the link between patient and professional.
More than half of Numark members fear the future impact of DSPs on community pharmacy, with changes in digital and personal service acknowledged as being most important to help minimise this threat and maximise customer retention. But local pharmacies are crying out for more support to help them make those changes and bolster their status as a critical third pillar of the NHS.
Numark hopes to bring much needed support to its members with the acquisition of the Co-op Health digital platform, with a winning formula of bricks and clicks at its core. The key to online growth is not just increasing prescription volumes, but rather how pharmacy teams best engage online audiences to drive them to visit the physical pharmacy. After all, wraparound healthcare from a professional offers far more than just receiving a prescription through the letterbox.
Further business acquisitions, NHS service commissions and a fairer, more sustainable funding model will only help strengthen community pharmacy’s capability to better compete in the online space. With access to digital propositions and services, bricks and mortar pharmacies are a powerful collective who champion accessible everyday health.
As we embark on a new era for pharmacy, the focus should be on supporting community pharmacies to become 'connected spaces' for everyday health: connecting customers to the ease and access of online services and to the imperative value of professional healthcare advice. Future growth lies in propositions and services that help improve access to healthcare professionals – whether they’re a stroll or scroll away – rather than replace them.
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