December 2014 – Pharmacists need to shift their language and approach to pharmacy services to better reach their patients, according to recent research on consumer attitudes towards pharmacy and pharmacists conducted by the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada.
“The majority of people surveyed didn’t know what a medication review was or that they’d had one done,” said Denise Carpenter, CEO of the association, speaking at this year’s Pharmacy Forum hosted by the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy. “We need to think about how we characterize ourselves and what we do.”
While the results showed that most consumers tend to think of pharmacists as accessible healthcare providers with an expertise in medications, Carpenter said this just skims the surface of the potential of pharmacy services. She urged the audience of pharmacists and industry leaders to think about pharmacists as full-service providers and market themselves accordingly. “Our research suggests that there is a lack of awareness of services available to [patients] for their conditions, yet there’s also pent-up demand,” she said. “We need to establish confidence in ourselves and we need to schedule time for patients.”
Carpenter advised that pharmacists focus on providing one or two services really well, “market like crazy” to build a customer base and then expand to other services.
The shifts in current practice don’t have to be huge either, she added, noting that something as subtle as the language used with patients can be a major factor. For example, consumers said their number one objective was to get off medications. “They don’t care when we talk about education and adherence so we need to shift our language and approach into a dialogue that helps them manage their chronic diseases,” said Carpenter.
For more information on the survey results go to www.neighbourhoodpharmacies.ca.