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The Evolution of Patient Needs: How Independent Pharmacies Can Grow & Adapt

Last updated Apr 13, 2023 | Health Trends, Pharmacy Management, Pharmacy Technology

The healthcare industry is constantly changing and the pharmacy landscape is no exception. In the past decade, there has been a significant evolution of patient needs. In this changing environment, independent pharmacies face increasing competition from retail, online, regional, and mail-order pharmacies. To stay competitive, it is key for independent pharmacies to adapt to changing patient needs by leveraging technology and providing elevated patient care beyond their medication needs.

The Shift in the Pharmacy Landscape

Retail pharmacies have historically been known for their convenience and accessibility, with many locations open 24/7. They also have a level of resources that are at times unmatched by smaller competitors. Regional pharmacies, such as Rite Aid and Kroger, also have a strong presence and can leverage their brand recognition and community ties. In numerous studies, retail pharmacies are continuously selected by patients because of their proximity to home and acceptance of their insurance.

The Emergence of Mail-Order and Online Pharmacies


In recent years, mail-order pharmacies, such as Express Scripts and OptumRx, have emerged as convenient and cost-effective options for patients who would like their medications delivered on a regular basis. They can offer lower prices due to their bulk purchasing power and can deliver medications directly to patients’ homes. Online pharmacies, such as Amazon Pharmacy, Capsule, and Mark Cuban Cost Plus, are also disrupting the traditional pharmacy model by offering streamlined, digital experiences, home delivery, and in some cases even eliminating the need for insurance.

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Patient Care

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The COVID-19 pandemic has also accelerated the adoption of digital solutions and changed patient behavior. Patients now may seek out contactless options for receiving their medications, such as curbside pickup and at-home delivery. Additionally, there have been shifts in patient needs and expectations, with a greater emphasis on personalized care and a focus on preventive health and patients’ overall well-being. Patients now look to their pharmacies for their health needs outside of just prescription refills such as vaccinations and Point of Care Testing.

How Independent Pharmacies Can Adapt to Evolving Patient Needs

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In a recent article by McKinsey, the writers proposed several key strategies for the pharmacy of the future, including leveraging digital solutions and providing personalized care. They also suggest that pharmacies should focus on building strong relationships with their patients by offering personalized services. Now– let’s dive a little deeper into how independent pharmacies can achieve this and thus differentiate themselves from other types of pharmacies.

Building & Maintaining Relationships with Patients

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Independent pharmacies have a unique advantage over larger chain pharmacies in building personal relationships with patients. This can involve taking the time to listen to the patient’s needs, providing recommendations based on their individual health history, and following up to ensure that they are satisfied with their treatment plan. Independent pharmacies can also offer additional services such as 

medication therapy management and home delivery, and other clinical services which can improve patients’ overall wellness to patients and help patients feel more connected with your pharmacy team.

Maintaining these relationships requires ongoing communication, such as sending reminder calls or emails for prescription refills, providing educational resources on new medications, and offering personalized consultations when necessary. By prioritizing personalized care and communication, independent pharmacies can build strong relationships with their patients and establish a loyal customer base.

Implementing Digital Solutions for Patient Care

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Digital solutions, such as telehealth consultations and medication management apps, can help pharmacies provide more personalized and convenient care. These personalized consultations can lead to a deeper relationship between the pharmacist and patient, and lead to sustainability and growth for the pharmacy. Digital solutions can also help pharmacies streamline operations and reduce costs, allowing them to compete with larger pharmacy chains and online pharmacies.

With all this said, when it comes to pharmacies of the future, there is no one size fits all solution. As pharmacies adapt and grow through technology and patient care, their approaches and implementation techniques will absolutely differ.

Digital Pharmacist Can Help Your Pharmacy Elevate Patient Care

Digital Pharmacist Patient Engagement Platform

Our Patient Engagement Platform offers task-based workflows that automate outreach and track prescription lifecycles, improve adherence and reduce your return to stock, and organize and manage patient relationships and touchpoints effectively and securely from multiple access points.

Within the Patient Engagement Platform, there is an appointment scheduling tool that allows pharmacists to set up, support, and offer a range of appointment-based services.


Vow is the only all-in-one IVR and VoIP communication system on the market purpose-built for pharmacies. This platform is secure, reliable, and easily integrates into any pharmacy software system to allow customers to refill prescriptions, find information, and communicate with your team like never before.

Digital Pharmacist Marketing Services

Digital Pharmacist can help with a wide range of digital marketing services and support, from Facebook advertising campaigns to social media posting to new customer tracking. Digital Pharmacist’s original content and curated health resources keep customers informed and educated while positioning pharmacies as experts who care.

In conclusion, the pharmacy landscape has shifted significantly in the past decade, with independent pharmacies facing increased competition from retail, regional, online, and mail-order pharmacies. To stay competitive, independent pharmacies must adapt and continue to focus on personalized care while leveraging digital solutions. Through this combination of factors, independent pharmacies can ensure future success and continue to provide high-quality care to their patients.

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