The role of community pharmacies has seen significant shifts in recent years prompting a need for a proactive approach to meet evolving patient expectations. Recognizing and addressing these changing dynamics is crucial as we step into 2024. In this blog, we’ll explore the pharmacy trends shaping the industry in the coming year, providing insights to help your business thrive in the face of these transformations.
1. Adapting to DIR Fee Changes
Being the most talked about topic of 2023 in the industry, now that the “DIR Fee Armageddon” is upon us, pharmacy owners are adapting to the fees occurring at point-of-sale while paying the retroactive fees from 2023. Budgets are tight to start the year off as a result of these cashflow interruptions, so it’s no surprise that many pharmacies will continue to look for ways to diversify their revenue beyond prescriptions by growing their clinical services and/ or focusing on high-margin front-end products. For an in-depth dive into strategies to help your pharmacy offset DIR fees this year, be sure to check out our “Offsetting DIR Fees” eBook.
2. Digital Transformations
As in the past years, one of the top pharmacy trends of 2024 remains to be “digital.” Many people use multiple platforms for the delivery of goods including furniture, food, and groceries – this has since transformed into digital pharmacies.
Digital pharmacies not only offer medication delivery, but they may have an array of services including telehealth consultations and virtual medication counseling. Options like this allow patients access to their medication without having to visit the doctor’s office or their local community pharmacy. Pharmacy mobile apps allow patients to request refills and manage the delivery of medications, which makes the process even more convenient.
One of the major drawbacks of digital pharmacy is the lack of face-to-face interactions. Such lack of interaction can lead to a lack of counseling on medications and disease states, so these companies are having to come up with novel ways to bridge that gap.
For a virtual pharmacy to stand out among other companies, it is important to provide adequate medication counseling. Through electronic pharmacist consultations and educational medication videos, patients are gaining more knowledge and guidance about their medications thus allowing them to have a similar experience to what they would receive in a traditional pharmacy.
3. Clinical Services & the Evolving Role of Pharmacists
To really stand out among its competitors, a pharmacy needs to offer a diversified portfolio of services that provide patients with holistic, personalized care. Offering a wide array of services to their customers and doing it well, will be a game changer for them and their business.
When a store can provide diversified healthcare services, including but not limited to, chronic disease state management, virtual specialty care, infusions, compounding, and MTM services more patients will be attracted to the pharmacy and inquisitive about what it offers. It’s crucial for pharmacies to be a place that not only provides medication but also sound medical advice and care for their patients. Having the pharmacy become your customers’ one-stop for all their needs, is exactly how you will gain loyalty and increase your customer base.
While having a diversified portfolio is important, it’s even more needed that these services are provided at an exceptionally high level of care. Focusing on the details of these services and ensuring your team is properly trained and ready to execute, is going to be the key to their success.
4. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Automation
The rapid integration of artificial intelligence (AI), automation, and robotics is reshaping the healthcare landscape. In 2024, automation is set to revolutionize pharmacies by streamlining routine tasks, allowing pharmacists to focus on more complex responsibilities. According to the NCPA 2023 Digest, 24 percent of pharmacies are currently using robotics for compliance packaging and it is anticipated that number will grow in 2024 and robotics will play an increasing role in prescription filling, reducing wait times, and enhancing medication management precision. While AI, automation, and robotics promise improved efficiency and patient care, the integration may take time to trickle down to most independents. This year we will witness a notable growth of these technologies across the industry and it is important to understand how the needs of the patients are also evolving as new technology emerges. Many conveniences will come with these technological advancements so it is imperative you are prepared to adapt to patients’ expectations.
As we embrace 2024, understanding and addressing the unique needs of community pharmacies is essential for delivering high-quality care and fostering business growth. By staying attuned, adapting to emerging trends, and embracing innovation, pharmacies can navigate the evolving landscape and ensure success in the new year and beyond.