Supporting Innovation in Pharmacy for a Healthier Canada

Services require simpler language

February 2015 - New consumer research confirms that when it comes to expanded services, pharmacists need to keep it simple and do more to raise general awareness.

The Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada recently released findings from a series of one-on-one interviews with a cross-section of 48 pharmacy patients (conducted by Decision Partners, an independent research firm). When asked about expanded services, 65% indicated they were uncertain about what was meant by expanded services and/or which services were available at their pharmacies. For example, most were unfamiliar with or unable to explain the terms “chronic disease management,” “treating common or minor ailments” and “MedsCheck/Med Review.”

Nearly all of those interviewed indicated a moderate to high level of interest in receiving specific expanded services, particularly to help them understand their medications. Yet when prompted later in the interview, only 15% were familiar with the existing, reimbursed medication assessment program available in their province (including MedsCheck in Ontario).

Flu shots were a notable exception. Two out of three patients knew that their pharmacy offered flu shots. On the other hand, only 20% reported having used the service.

"The bottom line is that neighbourhood pharmacies should plan to promote their new service offerings aggressively, basing those offerings on services with which patients are familiar and consistently using language that is simple and familiar to patients, from corporate marketing programs, in-store signage and literature to personal over-the-counter interactions," says Denise Carpenter, President and CEO of the Neighborhood Pharmacy Association of Canada.