Is your pharmacy strategy flexible? In today's world, it certainly needs to be. Over the past two decades or so, changes have been coming hard and fast to the pharmacy business. The typical independent community pharmacy has evolved from its traditional focus on dispensing medications to a more active role in providing patient care, collaborating with other health care professionals to promote wellness, provide health care information, and assist in disease management and medication compliance, among other tasks.
Staying competitive has meant being prepared to develop with those changes, anticipating them to some degree to make stepping into those roles a smooth, efficient process. Since there are certainly more changes to come, with factors like our aging population and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in play, among many others, agility will be central to profitability in the foreseeable future as well.
So What, Exactly, Does “Agility” Mean In Relation To Your Pharmacy Strategy?
Agility is the latest “buzzword” in the world of business, and with good reason. The needs and demands of consumers are changing faster than ever these days, and the information age has made those consumers more aware of the many options available to them for meeting those needs and demands. That means that businesses face increased competition as they strive to build a steady, loyal customer base – and independent pharmacies are certainly no exception to that rule. Agility means being flexible enough to take advantage of change, whether it is planned or unexpected, to improve your competitive edge, rather than letting it sideline your business.
So how can the average independent pharmacist incorporate that sort of agility into their pharmacy strategy? The obvious first step is to be well-positioned to anticipate likely changes – keeping your ear to the ground in terms of industry trends and proposed regulations to avoid being caught by surprise. Of course, not even the most attentive business person can anticipate every possible change in the industry, so the second step is to prepare your management strategy for the unexpected.
Things you can do to build flexibility into your business model include making good use of the latest information and workflow technology to maximize your everyday workplace efficiency. Nurturing effective, open communication between yourself, your staff and your customers is important too, enabling a free flow of ideas on how to best meet the ever-evolving needs and desires of your customers. Fixtures, including work stations, retail shelving, display areas and storage areas should be designed with not just efficiency in mind, but flexibility, allowing for quick, convenient upgrades and enhancements to accommodate necessary changes in the way your workspace works for your business and your retail space and service areas work for your customers.
Last, but certainly not least, building agility into your pharmacy strategy means re-evaluating that strategy frequently. Rather than setting an annual agenda, look things over with a critical eye once a month or so to see what could be done better. A lot can change in a year, and staying profitable means keeping ahead of that curve – and your competitors – rather than playing catch-up.