Differentiate with a Diabetic Focus


Eden Drug’s investment in being the “go-to” diabetic resource for its community has more than paid off in goodwill, referrals and revenue

If your pharmacy isn’t focused on serving customers with diabetes, you’re missing a huge opportunity to make your business stand out and improve your top line.

Big, Growing Market

In the United States, diabetes affects 25.8 million people, including 26.9% of those ages 65 and older. Another 79 million — 1 out of 3 American adults — has pre-diabetes, which puts them at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within six years.1

Diabetics aren’t typical customers. While the average consumer spends $300 per year at a retail pharmacy, individuals with diabetes can spend more than eight times as much.2 Check out the article “The Full Value of a Diabetes Patient” for more details.

Eden Drug’s Focus on Diabetes

The size and value of the market are why Pete Crouch, owner of Eden Drug in North Carolina, makes diabetes a priority and works to differentiate his pharmacy by finding better ways to serve those with diabetes. Some of the strategies that Eden Drug uses to grow its diabetes-focused business include:

  • Creating a diabetes center. A couple years ago Eden Drug placed all of its products for customers with diabetes in a central location near the prescription drop-off area, using Health Mart’s focal area signage. “We really wanted to funnel diabetic patients into that area of the pharmacy,” Crouch explained. In addition to meters, syringes, lotions and other items, the area includes a wall with displays of the three brands of diabetic shoes the pharmacy sells. By locating the pharmacy’s diabetes center in a high-traffic area, it increased the likelihood of impulse purchases. While customers are dropping off a prescription, they might pick up something to keep their insulin cool, a tablet cutter, or a foot lotion specifically for individuals with diabetes.
  • Boosting diabetes adherence. To encourage diabetics to stay on their medications, Eden Drug uses a system that automatically calls customers with a reminder when they are more than seven days overdue to refill a prescription. In addition to diabetes, they use this automated reminder system to make calls for several other chronic conditions that require maintenance medications like high blood pressure and high cholesterol, where adherence is important but patients may not feel an immediate impact if they start missing doses.
  • Investing in diabetes-focused staff training. Crouch has a certification in diabetes, and he has been certified to fit diabetic shoes and compression hose, which allows him to bill Medicare for diabetic shoes. While Crouch is the only pharmacist at Eden Drug who has become certified so far, he can supervise others who have had training but are not yet certified.

Pharmacies where a staff member has obtained certification have the opportunity to promote their staff expertise. This can be done by sending news releases to local media when people complete training and by including credentials on the “About Us” section of your website, on social media profiles and via in-store signage. Discover more about the benefit of boosting your credentials in the article “Becoming a ‘Whole Health’ Center.”

  • Educating the community. Eden Drug hosts a diabetes education program the third Thursday of every month, which typically attracts 20 to 30 people. The pharmacy uses an automated phone blast reminder a day or two before each class to encourage new diabetic customers to attend and bring a friend. Using a system from Pharmacy Development Services, Crouch can call in to record a message and set what day and time the message will be delivered to customers in Eden Drug’s database.

At the beginning of each session “we teach them the basics of diabetes,” Crouch said. The sessions start with an explanation about diabetes and how to treat it. Crouch talks about the “three-legged stool” for treating diabetes — diet, exercise and medication — and that each leg is equally important. Treating diabetes can be like trying to juggle three balls. So, Crouch encourages diabetic customers to let their doctors manage their medications while they manage their diet and exercise. “We try to empower them,” he said.

Then each session covers a different topic, using a PowerPoint presentation to provide visuals. “We cover topics like what a meal plan is. We teach attendees how to count carbs. We teach them about the plate method and portion control. We teach them how to survive the holidays and still enjoy their favorite foods.” The pharmacy serves fruit and vegetable snacks during the sessions and ends by giving attendees a healthy recipe to try.

Since Eden Drug doesn’t have enough room for these well-attended education sessions, Crouch holds them at the local Chamber of Commerce office. Pharmacies can find other creative ways to take education sessions to the community by partnering with major employers, hospitals and other organizations.

Eden Drug reinforces the education from these sessions that Crouch provides on diabetes, as well as other topics, through posts on its Facebook page. Crouch also provides information for a 30-minute daily show on the local cable television channel and for occasional radio programs and newspaper articles.

Pharmacies may be able to receive reimbursement for some diabetes education activities from patients, insurers, Medicare and employers. Get more details in the article “Why Becoming a Diabetes Expert Makes Good Business Sense.”

Promotional idea: November is National Diabetes Month, which makes it a great time to promote the many ways you serve diabetic customers. You can promote in the store, online and through local media.

Relationships in the Community

One more reason why Crouch prioritizes diabetes care is to strengthen his relationships with physicians and other providers in the community, as well as with Medicare Advantage plans. With Medicare star ratings emphasizing the management of chronic conditions such as diabetes, doctors and other providers are increasingly looking for community support in caring for their diabetic patients. (See “Star Ratings Explained.”) “We’re trying to position ourselves to be a good partner with physicians and hospitals,” Crouch explained.

The bottom line: Positioning your pharmacy as a one-stop resource for those with diabetes can help you capture a larger share of this major market.

Additional Resources

Tell us what you’re doing to better serve people with diabetes.

The information provided here is for reference use only and does not constitute the rendering of legal or other professional advice by McKesson. Readers should consult appropriate professionals for advice and assistance prior to making important decisions regarding their business. McKesson is not advocating any particular program or approach herein. McKesson is not responsible for, nor will it bear any liability for the content provided herein.

1 “November Is National Diabetes Month,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nov. 19, 2012, www.cdc.gov/features/livingwithdiabetes/.
2 “Retail Pharmacy and the Diabetes Epidemic,” Drug Topics, Dec. 11, 2009, http://drugtopics.modernmedicine.com/drug-topics/news/modernmedicine/modern-medicine-feature-articles/retail-pharmacy-and-diabetes-epidem.