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Travel clinic: ‘We often see people directed on to us by local travel agents’

By Saša Janković

10 Mar 2021

Pharmacist and IP Olivier Picard is Managing Director of Newdays Pharmacy Ltd, and the owner of four pharmacies at Reading, Eton and Twyford in Berkshire, and Lane End in Buckinghamshire. He works primarily from the Eton branch, and talks to Saša Janković about running a travel clinic.

Service type: Travel clinic.

Name of pharmacy: Newdays Pharmacy, Eton.

Name of superintendent pharmacist: Olivier Picard.

Why did you start offering this service?

We set up our first travel clinic in back in 2016. I had been thinking about running a travel clinic for a while, but I didn’t really know where to start. I happened to get chatting to another pharmacist I knew who was using the MASTA service – which assesses the customer’s needs and then refers them on to their nearest or most convenient ‘partner clinic’, such as at their local community pharmacy – and he recommended talking to them. I went to see to MASTA to find out exactly how it all worked, what training I would need and so on, and it went from there.

How much did it cost to set up the service?

It was quite expensive with MASTA -around £1,200-1,500 – but I knew it was something I really wanted to do and I was attracted to MASTA’s service because they do all the initial consultation with the patient for you. In the first year we didn’t make a lot of money, but the driver was more about offering something new, and now we have definitely seen repeat business from it.

What, if any, training did you or other team members have to undergo?

Initially, it was just me and a colleague from one of my other pharmacies who trained up, but MASTA works on a territory basis and, since we started, three of my pharmacies now qualify. MASTA provides all the training and the PGD and sets up all the appointments without you having to do anything. They charge the patient a fee for the telephone consultation, book them into the pharmacy nearest to them, and then tell me when I’ve got someone coming for an appointment. Because I’m an IP, I now also do consultations myself, and use another company to provide further vaccinations with patients myself.

Over the years, I’ve also built up relationships with local travel agents in our area and explained the service to them, and they give out our leaflets about it to their customers. This means we often see people coming to us who may not live near the pharmacy but have gone to the travel agent to book a holiday and been directed on to us for our travel clinic. This, and the referrals from MASTA, is great because it brings new people into the pharmacy all the time.

In a nutshell, what does the service involve?

We offer vaccinations for hepatitis A and B, yellow fever and rabies, as well asanti malarials, and advice and products for travellers’ diarrhoea, mosquito repellents, sun cream etc. We will also have a general conversation with the customer about managing their health abroad, covering things such as what to do if they are bitten by an animal, the importance of good hand hygiene and so on.

Are there any opportunities to sell over the counter or prescription products during the consultation or after it?

Yes – we can advise and sell all kinds of travel health items, such as sun cream, mosquito repellent, tick removers, and products for diarrhoea and travel sickness.

How have patients responded to the service?

What I have noticed is that customers tend to trust the person who has just jabbed them, and it gives them confidence that we know what we are talking about when it comes to product advice. They tell me they don’t want to buy travel health products at the airport, and they’d rather know what I recommend and buy it from us.

Roughly, how often each month do you carry out the service?

Normally we see 6-10 people a week, although for obvious reasons that it is fewer at the moment.

How much do you charge for the service?

We charge per vaccination or per course of tablets, so the price varies depending on what the customer wants. Vaccines range from £30-100, and patients can also pay for certificates for travelling with health issues for around £20.

Roughly, how much a month do you make from offering the service?

The average traveller will spend about £150 in a visit, which covers something like two or three jabs but, depending on where they are going and what they need, some courses cost more.

Would you recommend offering this service to other contractors?

Absolutely. GP surgeries get lots of enquiries about travel health and send people on to us, and word of mouth also helps you to grow.

Read more case studies on travel health services.

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