Tip of the Week: Innovation Influences New Pharmacy Services

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Pharmacy managers can cultivate an innovative mindset amongst staff members by adopting an attitude that is welcoming to change.

Many community pharmacies struggle to maintain healthy profit margins, as they experience waning dispensing revenues resulting from competition along with continuously tight reimbursement levels and fees assessed by pharmacy benefits managers (PBMs). Because of this, pharmacies must be on the hunt to diversify their revenue streams.

The prospect of offering various patient-centered services has long been a possibility in this regard. Pharmacy leaders must leverage their entrepreneurial skills to ensure their pharmacy identifies new areas of opportunity that correspond with evolving patient population needs and a key ingredient in adopting an entrepreneurial mindset is innovation.

A recent survey of community pharmacies examined factors associated with their service offerings. The survey elicited the type and frequency of services offered and included multiple possible responses, such as health screenings, disease state management, medication management services, point-of-care testing, medication reconciliation, complex non-sterile compounding, immunizations, and medication therapy adjustments. On average, community pharmacies offered 3 of the 8 services, with a larger number provided by supermarket and chain pharmacies and fewer by mass merchandiser pharmacies.

The results showed that innovation was the strongest element associated with the number of services offered. Innovation was measured as the sum of 3 items based on a 5-point Likert scale, wherein survey respondents were asked to select responses to the following statements: 1) “Our pharmacy is known as an innovator among pharmacies in our area,” 2) “We promote new, innovative services in our pharmacy,” and 3) “Our pharmacy provides leadership in developing new services.”1 Doucette et al. described innovation as a tendency to perform activities that develop and bring new services into markets.1

Of the factors tested, perceived workload, pharmacy staffing, and involvement with an interprofessional care team were also positively correlated with the number of services provided. However, an increase of more than 3 technicians was negatively correlated and adequacy of resources was not shown to be significant.1

These findings are relevant because they underscore the importance and value associated with innovation in any retail setting, whether a large chain or smaller independent pharmacy. Instilling innovation into the community pharmacy setting means applying creative and critical thinking skills to accomplish practical goals. Thanks to their high level of public accessibility, pharmacists are well positioned to contribute to the development of novel patient care approaches which could lead to viable business opportunities.2

Furthermore, innovation is a skill that can be honed and nurtured. Pharmacy managers can cultivate an innovative mindset amongst staff members by adopting an attitude that is welcoming to change, which also establishes trust by welcoming new ideas and encouraging collaborative brainstorming. In doing so, managers are promoting a culture of innovation where employees feel safe and supported to express their creativity, offer solutions, and provide constructive feedback. Fostering this type of work culture may also result in better employee engagement.

Pharmacy managers can leverage innovation to identify and implement new services. The concept of innovation has broad applicability and may benefit many different types of pharmacy managers if instituted along with the goals of the pharmacy’s business model.

More information on Entrepreneurship and Innovation can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Valerie Wasem is a PharmD Candidate at Touro University California.

Shane P. Desselle, PhD, is a Professor of Social and Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California.

References:

  1. Doucette WR, Rippe JJ, Gaither CA, Kreling DH, Mott DA, Schommer JC.Influences on the frequency and type of community pharmacy services. J Am Pharm. 2017;57:72-76.
  2. Moczygemba LR, Desselle SP. Entrepreneurship and innovation. In: Zgarrick DP, Desselle SP, Moczygemba LR, & Alston G (Eds.). Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. New York: McGraw Hill; 2020: pp.657-670.