As the health care landscape changes, pharmacists have to adapt and grow. That starts with thinking differently.
“People change. So must pharmacy,” said Dave Wendland, vice president and member of the owners group at Hamacher Resource Group, a leading partner in category management, business strategy and marketing services focused on consumer health care at retail.
“Staying stagnant and not innovating is a death sentence,” he said.
Are you ready to think like an innovator?
Traits of innovators
Change happens all the time. Trends change. Patients change. Health care changes. Independent community pharmacies must innovate to accommodate change.
“If independent pharmacy operators aren’t reinventing, reimagining and reshaping their businesses, they’re likely receding and retreating,” Wendland said.
Wendland calls these types of businesses “establishment retailers.” Establishment retailers are the pharmacies choosing to live in the past, and they haven’t caught up to the present, he said.
Differentiating your business
Innovators are those businesses that aren’t afraid of making mistakes. They’re the ones that are always striving to push their limits, Wendland said.
Wendland believes successful innovators in pharmacy are those who bring new value to their patient base, and who refuse to surrender to the competition. Specialty pharmacies that focus on conditions such as HIV, cancer, multiple sclerosis and respiratory conditions are one example.
“Specialty pharmacies have aspired to be different in the marketplace,” Wendland said. “They’ve transformed their approach to patient care, and they’ve reengineered their entire operation.”
Pharmacies that focus on niche areas, such as women’s health, diabetes or other chronic conditions, also provide unique experiences for patients, he said. “They’re redirecting energies to something that’s going to resonate with the population they hope to serve.”
Steps to innovation
The first step is always the most difficult. Pharmacies looking to become innovators must understand that the first step is not the final one.
“Innovation is iterative, and improvements are continual,” Wendland said. “The most important action to take when getting started is to remember the saying, ‘Think big, but start small.’”
If you don’t consider yourself to be an innovative thinker, Wendland has a few nuggets of advice. He recommends reading and continually learning.
Ideas into action
Once you put an idea into action, how do you determine whether it was a success?
Examining the hard numbers and how much your business profited monetarily from the new endeavor is useful in measuring success. However, Wendland recommends measuring the soft data as well.
“Don’t overlook the value in customer satisfaction and employee happiness,” he said. “To determine success, you must quantify both variables.”
Pharmacists should expect to run into a few obstacles to innovation. Wendland recommends considering your budget when deliberating ideas, but to always be open to new ideas and to overcome the initial resistance to change.