Tip of the Week: Be a Beacon of Information

Shane P. Desselle, PhD, RPh, FAPhA

A study found that 14.4% of customers had sought information prior to visiting a community pharmacy.

We used to think that the future would look somewhat like it did on The Jetsons cartoon. We’d be riding around in flying cars, pressing buttons to have a sandwich appear out of nowhere, and have a robotic maid clean our entire household. Well, we’ve actually made strides in a few of those areas lately, such as robotic vacuum cleaners, but indeed the future as now (predicted decades ago) looks far different. It has been less so The Jetsons and more toward computing, artificial intelligence, and the dawn of the information age, with extraordinarily powerful computers that fit in the palm of our hands, and that we take with us everywhere we go.

Wanting to be in the know is not a new phenomenon. But the current landscape of 24-hour media coverage and the vast array of technological platforms have brought information-seeking to levels probably never envisioned. This was confirmed as it relates to medication therapy in a study published in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy.1

The investigators found that 14.4% of customers had sought information prior to visiting a community pharmacy. The typical information-seeker was younger and female.

While we are rightfully suspect of much of the information that might be found on the internet, the study found that the majority of consumers who had sought information did so from reliable sources. Their internet searches largely included credible sources and information from other health care professionals. The primary reasons for their information searches were to determine if they can solve the problem or question themselves, to know more about a product before they begin taking it, to determine what others can do to help them with their problem or question, and to find information on adverse effects.

A number of individuals wanted the information they initially found to be validated once they visited the pharmacy. The study authors also point out that the information gathered by consumers prior to visiting the pharmacy was often applied in and used positively during the counseling session.

Pharmacists should embrace patient information-seeking rather than eschew it, even while being aware of the existence of specious sources. Knowing that patients are seeking information, the pharmacist can inquire about information that has been sought.

The pharmacy manager can market to their patients that the pharmacy welcomes questions and seeks to clarify information initially acquired. Pharmacy managers can also create a culture and employ marketing strategies that further activate and engage patients.

We might not get paid expressly to provide additional information, but not only is that part of the job, it’s also a way to engender patient loyalty and improve patient outcomes, as the tide toward pay-for-performance slowly but surely continues to turn.

Additional information about Marketing Theory and Customer Servicein Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e, available online at AccessPharmacy.

Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, Professor Social/Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California in Vallejo.

REFERENCE

Burghle A, Abrahamsen B, Lundby C, Rossing C, et al. Customers’ information seeking behavior prior to community pharmacy visit: A community pharmacy survey. Res Social Adm Pharm.2020;16(10):1442-1446..