As value-based reimbursement takes root and spreads to every corner of the health care industry, each stakeholder becomes more dependent on others to improve outcomes and control costs. Independent pharmacies can be important business partners, but only if they understand how to promote themselves to health care providers and grow those relationships.
Independent pharmacies that want to market themselves to providers and build strong partnerships with them should follow these three steps:
1. Identify providers who could benefit most from the pharmacy’s services
2. Promote the value offered by the pharmacy, not the pharmacy itself
3. Prepare and execute a marketing plan for a visit to a provider
Finding providers who could benefit from the pharmacy’s services
Independent pharmacies must first identify providers who would make the best partners. That starts with recognizing that providers aren’t limited to physicians. They can be nurse practitioners, other advanced-practice providers, dentists and any licensed clinicians able to prescribe medications under the law in each state.
The pharmacy should build a master list of potential candidates and sort them by:
- Distance from the pharmacy
- Medical specialty
- Number of prescriptions written per month
- The pharmacy’s current share and potential share of those prescriptions
To pinpoint the best candidates, pharmacies should use a number of factors to cull the master list and create a shortlist. Those factors include:
- Identifying providers who treat patients with complex medication regimens. It may be advantageous to focus on physicians who write prescriptions for patients with complex medication needs and who could particularly benefit from the pharmacy’s services.
- Finding providers who treat a targeted patient population. Specialists like obstetricians care for female patients who may be the key health care decision-makers in their households. Others, like geriatricians, treat patients with multiple chronic diseases and multiple drug needs.
- Targeting practices whose patients may benefit from specialty services. Pediatricians and dentists need drug compounding services for their patient populations. Endocrinologists may need the pharmacy’s specific products and services for diabetes patients.
Promoting the value of the pharmacy as it aligns with provider needs
When reaching out to providers who make the shortlist, pharmacies should understand the specific needs of a provider and tailor the pitch to meet those needs. Aligning the pharmacy’s solutions with the provider’s challenges lays the groundwork for a mutually beneficial relationship.
Consequently, it’s incumbent upon the pharmacy to understand what services, capabilities, knowledge and experience are of most value to a particular provider. For example, a provider caring for patients with complex medical needs might place a high priority on:
Meanwhile, a specialty practice may appreciate a pharmacy that understands quality measures. The pharmacy can work with the practice in a variety of ways to ensure that those measures are headed in the right direction. For example:
- The pharmacy can collaborate with the practice to identify mutual at-risk or high-risk patients for specific medical conditions.
- The pharmacy can monitor at-risk or high-risk patients to ensure they’re achieving their therapeutic outcomes with safe and effective medication use.
- The pharmacy can recommend additional services it can provide to the patients to improve their health outcomes.
- The pharmacy can recommend safe, alternative solutions when the practice identifies medication-related problems.
Physician practices are under increasing pressure to meet certain quality measures that will directly affect payment rates for their services. This represents a significant opportunity for an independent pharmacy to partner with providers.
Developing then implementing a marketing plan for visits to providers
With the list narrowed to the best candidates and services aligned with the provider’s needs, the final step for the pharmacy is to develop and execute a marketing plan for a visit with a coveted provider. In addition to in-person visits, pharmacies can reach out to providers by phone, email, mail and fax.
Regardless of channel, the pharmacy should craft its message before making with the provider. Some sample messages include:
- “Our services can help you increase your quality measures.”
- “We are always available by phone to support you with your medication questions or billing and prior authorization support.”
- “We offer your patients convenience, everyday low prices, and friendly, personal service.”
- “We have a strong focus on medication adherence, helping you ensure better outcomes.”
- “Community pharmacies are known for our excellent customer service. We give your patients personal attention and highly specialized services that they can’t get from chain drug stores.”
In addition to communicating its many capabilities to the provider, the pharmacy should do its own market research during the visit. The information to be gathered includes:
- The types of patients seen at the practice site
- The practice type and any subspecialties
- The names of key staff members, including the “gatekeeper”
- Names and descriptions of staff to recall them later
- The number of patients the provider sees per day
- Personal things in common with the provider to build rapport
Based on the conversation, the personal visit should end on a strong note, with the pharmacy making specific recommendations to the provider about what services would be most beneficial to patients and to the practice. In addition to leaving behind patient educational materials, the pharmacy should schedule a date and time for a follow-up visit.
Independent pharmacies that follow these three steps for initiating and building relationships with providers will benefit from increased prescription volume and expanded use of other clinical services.
Related: Learn more about Studiomaca’s growth and expansion services for independent pharmacies