Increased Prescriber Outreach = Increased Pharmacy Traffic
In today’s competitive environment, it is unrealistic for a community pharmacy to expect that customers will just flock in after opening the doors. Increasing traffic takes concrete strategies and focused execution. One strategy that community pharmacies are using to boost traffic is prescriber outreach.
Why Does Prescriber Outreach Matter?
Physicians and their staff are important influencers whose recommendations carry great weight. As a result, a recommendation of a community pharmacy by a physician prescriber is generally followed by patients.
But today the majority of prescribers often don’t think to recommend a community pharmacy to their patients. Prescribers often believe that independent pharmacies are more expensive than chains, and have less convenient hours and locations. In addition, prescribers are often unaware of the value and advantages that independent pharmacies offer.
That’s why targeted prescriber outreach provides such an important opportunity to refute the misperceptions that exist, convey your pharmacy’s unique advantages, promote niche services, build relationships — and ultimately get prescribers to recommend your store. The results will include increased traffic, volume, loyalty and profits.
How to Engage in Prescriber Outreach?
Here’s a simple five-step approach for prescriber outreach.
- Understand what prescribers want.Recent research among physicians, nurses and staff indicated that they would welcome the level of service, support, knowledge and guidance that a reputable community pharmacy can provide. Specifically, research among prescribers indicates that they are looking for:
- Pharmacies that answer their phone promptly
- Affordable and dependable service for their patients
- Pharmacists who can provide answers to physicians’ medication questions
- Pharmacists who help prescribers care for patients through services like adherence support and medication therapy management (79% of prescribers said they would be more likely to recommend an independent pharmacy that provided adherence services leading to improved outcomes)
- Support to make their front-office staff’s lives easier on billing and insurance issues
- Pharmacists who will visit in person to provide education
- Know your market. Identify all of the prescribers in your area. Then narrow the list by targeting prescribers who treat patients requiring complex medication regimens and who would benefit from special services like diabetes services or compounding. Good targets might include pain management specialists, pediatricians, OB/GYNs, dermatologists, physicians specializing in geriatrics or dentists.
- Convey your unique value.Prescribers often aren’t aware of the unique value provided by community pharmacies. As Tim Davis, owner of Beaver Health Mart Pharmacy in Beaver, Pennsylvania, said after visiting the office of a physician where he had a good relationship, “I realized we weren’t getting many scripts from that physician’s office … there were things that they didn’t know that we could do, like provide immunizations. We never told them.” The key is to understand what prescribers want and succinctly convey the unique ways your pharmacy adds value — which they may not realize. Focus on educating prescribers, not promoting or selling to them.
- Overcome misperceptions. To counter the potential negative perceptions of independent pharmacies, emphasize your pharmacy’s unique advantages such as excellent service, personal patient relationships, adherence support, and capabilities like compounding, immunizations and wellness services.
- Develop and execute a marketing plan. A marketing plan lays out the many ways to touch prescribers. Having a plan allows for prioritization, delegation and budgeting.
By understanding what prescribers want, by communicating your pharmacy’s unique value and by actively marketing your pharmacy’s value, prescribers are more likely to recommend your pharmacy to patients.
Learn from the Efforts of Others
Advice gathered by McKesson from pharmacies that have engaged in prescriber outreach includes:
- Focus on the best prescribers. Not all prescribers are equal. Focus on those physicians who are most likely to value the unique services offered by your pharmacy.
- Educate prescribers. Don’t sell — educate. Teach physicians and their staff about your unique services; explain how these services benefit patients and prescribers’ staff.
- Develop relationships. Prescribers want and value relationships with reliable healthcare providers who can help them care for their patients.
- Sell up to prescribers you already know. Even though you may already have close relationships with physicians in your community, they may not be aware of the many services your pharmacy provides. Meet regularly with these prescribers to continually educate them about your services, share success stories and strengthen relationships.
Tools to Make Outreach Easier, Better
Recognizing the importance that prescriber outreach can play in boosting traffic, McKesson has developed the Physician Outreach Program to support community pharmacies in their outreach efforts. The main components are:
- A web search tool to identify local opportunities. Designed to work like Google Maps, this Web-based tool pulls together data about nearby prescribers (based on your ZIP code) and presents a map with a pin for each prescriber. For better targeting, results can be filtered using different criteria. Also, eligible stores can see their portion of each prescriber’s prescription volume, identify where opportunities exist and help prioritize the best opportunities.
- Marketing tools to help realize local opportunities. A marketing guide provides insights into prescribers’ needs along with outreach tips. Ready-to-use marketing materials enable community pharmacies to deliver compelling messages to the prescribers easily and professionally. Materials can be quickly and easily customized.
For more information about the Physician Outreach Program, click here.