Martin Hao, managing director of Healthera and Lewis Fiford, pharmacy innovation manager, explore how pharmacies can begin to use this data to their advantage to boost their business further.
Pharmacies collect huge amounts of patient data, which if used in the correct manner could help improve business performance significantly.
Transaction data is already being used effectively in many pharmacies that employ systems to help plan and carry out their product ordering autonomously.
However, by using new electronic point of sale (EPOS) systems, it is also possible to compare that data with national trends to make sure the right products are being ordered in the right quantities and to ensure that they are being displayed in the best place possible. These modern EPOS systems can also be used to modify stock displays around best sellers and to help remove ‘dead stock’ in order to refresh displays and encourage customer interest.
Order management technology can also provide significant cost savings by ensuring that stock is bought at the most competitive prices available from suppliers (and not necessarily just the cheapest, but the best margin and the best product.)
Because pharmacy staff only have a limited time to spend with each patient, it is beneficial to make good use of prescription history data to focus that time and really make the most of it.
This can be done by categorising patients based on their ailments and then recommending them specific services and products (known as cross selling). For example, offering the flu vaccination service to patients who are identified to be at high-risk or offering vitamin packs to help customers recover from serious conditions.
It is also becoming easier for pharmacies to use their own data to drive sales and set internal performance metrics. Targets drive business and by using existing data, it is possible to set focussed goals for staff – for example targeting increased customer engagement to increase the number of service bookings.
Furthermore, by using internal data, it can be quickly identified which products are down in sales compared to the previous year, prompting staff to address why this may be.
It could be, for example, that a neighbouring pharmacy is running a promotion on that particular product, highlighting the need to create a similar promotion in order to compete.
New technologies are now emerging that enable pharmacies to invite their customers to join apps and online platforms where they can connect with their pharmacy to order products and gain information about service booking.
By using either their email address or phone number to receive a text message, pharmacies can invite their patients to join, thereby driving their customer retention and subsequently their business. Further to this, there is also the potential to improve customer service and care by linking them to apps that help them take control of their health.
What data pharmacies are collecting and should analyse frequently?
- Transaction data through till systems (EPOS data)
- Adherence data, such as dosage frequency and reasons for missing doses, qualitative data regarding patient understanding of their medicines and the ability of patients to use medication or devices correctly through medicine use reviews (MURs)
- Number of services carried out and service types, such as a smoking cessation programme or MUR