Building Trust for Better Care


How independent pharmacies can leverage relationships to enhance patient care and accelerate business growth.

The role of the local apothecary is evolving in ways that are exciting for healthcare. CMS Star Ratings, pharmacist as a provider legislation and other outcomes-focused initiatives have shed new light on the role of the pharmacist along the healthcare continuum. While these changes may cause some initial concern and hesitation to adapt to new ways of doing business, they actually present opportunities for independent pharmacies to thrive.

How can independent pharmacies capitalize on both their evolving roles and their reputation in the community? A 2013 National Community Pharmacy Alliance (NCPA) study revealed that nearly 90 percent of independent pharmacy users reported a strong sense of connection to their pharmacy staff, while only 67 percent of retail chain users and 36 percent of mail-order users reported the same.1 Leveraging the close relationships they have with patients, pharmacists can build trust to enhance care and grow their businesses in three key areas.

Medication Therapy Management (MTM)
Approximately 42 percent of fatal, life-threatening or serious adverse drug events (ADEs) are preventable.2 In many of these cases, patients receive prescriptions from multiple providers or leave the hospital with a prescription they never start using. And with new oral therapies for cancer presenting their own set of unique adherence challenges, both patients and providers are faced with medication compliance complexities.

Enter the community pharmacist. MTM programs, Comprehensive Medication Reviews (CMRs) and drug education position pharmacists to intervene in care and prevent ADEs. In the process, the pharmacist inspires patient trust as a source of clinical care while contributing to improved performance on adherence related Star Measures, an important way CMS is evaluating quality care.

Pharmacists can be a source of critical immunization education, taking advantage of regular patient interaction to share information on the need for - and effectiveness of vaccines. Whether because it's back-to-school and time to make sure the kids' vaccines are up-to-date, an infectious outbreak occurs or it's simply good practice to remind patients about the appropriate vaccines for overall wellness and prevention, the convenience of the community pharmacy for receiving immunizations is unmatched. Expanding and marketing this offering can grow the business and highlight the pharmacist's expertise in new ways.

Community-centric services
Different communities have unique health needs based on the makeup of the patient population. Areas with a large proportion of elderly or diabetic patients, for example, have different pharmaceutical and healthcare product needs than those with a greater number of young families. This can mean varying demand for everything from personal care products to children's vitamins. In rural or remote areas with limited access to healthcare, the pharmacist may find himself a source of clinical expertise. 

"The less time doctors have to spend with their patients, the more important the pharmacist-patient relationship becomes."3

Offering services that meet the community's unique needs positions the pharmacist as a critical access point for healthcare. Home healthcare equipment - all of the items that make aging or disabled patients more comfortable in their own homes - is a solution that can help the community pharmacy enhance the level of care provided while exploring new revenue streams. The same is true for diabetic supplies and services such as shoe fittings and testing. And vitamin programs for local children are both a marketing opportunity and a way to facilitate community wellness. Depending on the patient population in the community, adding one or more of these services reinforces the essential nature of clinical pharmacy services that diversify the pharmacy business taking it beyond filling prescriptions.

A trusted source for care
It has never been more important for pharmacies to establish themselves as healthcare destinations in their communities. The keys to success are communication, a community focus and clinical expertise. These are the things community pharmacists are already known for, and all equally critical to enhancing care.

1 NCPA Study Determines Pharmacists' Personal Connection with Patients is Leading Factor in Medication Adherence. (2013, July 10). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from
2 Bates, D. W., MD, MSc, Cullen, D. J., MD, Laird, N., PhD, & Peterson, L. A., MD, MPH. (1995). Incidence of adverse drug events and potential adverse drug events: Implications for prevention.JAMA,274(1). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from
3 Johnson, K. S. (n.d.). The importance of pharmacist-patient relations. Retrieved February 23, 2015, from

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