In a conversation with the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Dr. Julie Akers, clinical associate professor of pharmacotherapy at Washington State University, declares that “more involved direct patient care is the future of pharmacy practice.” We at Physician 360 are ready to help community pharmacists across the country invest in and benefit from this future.
But why is more direct patient care the future for pharmacies? Why expand beyond product-based care? Here are three key reasons why you should offer clinical services– and how Physician 360 can help.
1. Increasing patient accessibility to medical services increases your bottom line in front-end sales and new revenue streams.
Offering clinical services at your local pharmacy increases both the financial and physical accessibility of those services for patients in your community. In terms of financial access, to put it simply, clinical services at a local pharmacy are much more affordable than a visit to a doctor or the ER, especially for uninsured customers. According to a 2017 study by The Annals of Internal Medicine, uninsured patients pay an average of 3-4 times more in an ER visit than an urgent care visit. Seeking help for a UTI without insurance, for instance, can cost over $600 at the ER, as opposed to $110 for urgent care. High co-pays and impossible ER fees offer a high incentive to opt for urgent care clinics or community pharmacies.
Distance and convenience also offer incentives to choose community pharmacies over a trip to alternative clinical centers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a community pharmacy. Compare this to the 58% who live within 5 miles of a hospital, as found in a 2018 Pew Research Center study. Add onto this the convenience factor: why go to an urgent care clinic for a service you can get at your local pharmacy, which community members tend to frequent more regularly anyway? In other words: if you could get their groceries or over-the-counter medications while also getting tested for an earache at your local pharmacy, why split those tasks into two different trips? Plus, the online consultations paired with Physician 360’s rapid testing kits makes it even easier for patients to get diagnosed and prescribed with the right medicines.
Increasing patient accessibility to clinical services by offering them at your pharmacy will significantly increase your bottom line. You will generate new revenue streams by adding testing kits to your inventory and increasing prescription sales thanks to new patients from Physician 360’s telehealth consultations. Returning to the convenience factor, building patient traffic will also increase current front-end sales: increasing patient count will increase the potential customers you have for buying your OTC medications and other products. This also increases potential long-term relationships with customers in your community. Overall, by offering clinical services to your community, you can improve both community health outcomes and your own performance as a business. Physician 360 provides the tools, the expertise, and the support to help you do both.
2. Integration of clinical services into pharmaceutical practice is a future already in motion.
More involved direct patient care is the future of pharmacies, and it is a future already in motion today. In 2010, Health Affairs published a paper that estimated 27% of ER visits could and would be handled by urgent care facilities and retail clinics. This shift to alternative sites for acute treatments is evident in a 2018 study published by Family Medicine Care, which noted a “continuous annual increase [of urgent care] across years,” starting from 2011-2012 with a 44% jump, and ending in the study with 2014-2015, a 16% increase. This upward trend reflects the financial and distal incentives of non-ER and doctor’s visits for patients. Community pharmacy clinical services is the next stage of this movement, thanks to those same incentives.
This next stage is reflected in multiple dimensions. According to The Future of Community Pharmacy: Direct Patient Care, a publication in AACP, student pharmacists across the nation are being trained in clinical services in addition to their regular curriculum. This article also noted that 72% of pharmacists offered naloxone in a community setting in 2019, which reminds us that pharmacists have already been expanding their roles in public health, in and outside of crises. Finally, according to Commonwealth Medicine, a division of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, state legislation over the last decade has adapted to expand the roles pharmacies play in state health, i.e. vaccines, contraceptives, etc. In education, legislation, and in practice, local pharmacies are more active in the health of their communities.
Physician 360 is helping usher in an already-inevitable shift in pharmaceutical care. We are here to help you propel this shift in your local business, increasing your revenue and keeping you competitive in this new world of pharmacies.
3. Offering clinical services now helps you and your community prepare for future emergencies.
Dr. Jennifer Adams, Clinical Associate Professor at Idaho State University College of Pharmacy, says it best: “My thought is, how better to be prepared for an emergency situation than to have that be what your daily practice is?”
By offering clinical services now, you will be prepared for future crises. In a future pandemic, for instance, where the ER, doctors’ offices, and urgent care will all be filled to capacity, your pharmacy will be the place where patients with acute conditions get the help they need. Instead of improvising amidst the emergency, you can begin your preparations now with the help of Physician 360. Your future self– and your community– will thank you.
By offering clinical services, you can maximize your bottom line, stay competitive in the dynamic world of healthcare, and get a head start on preparing for future emergencies. Physician 360 is here to help you accomplish all of these things. If you’re interested in improving your business performance and patient outcomes in your community by offering rapid testing kits and connecting to our telemedicine urgent care, why wait? Get started by clicking here.