When I was first starting out in healthcare IT, a mentor told me, “Pharmacy data is king. And don’t just focus on the data you need now, focus on the data you’ll need in the future.” Those words of wisdom became the foundation for my career in healthcare.
You couldn’t ask for a better set of data than what pharmacists have in front of them every day – a treasure trove of therapy-based information, collected over many years from loyal patients. And when that data is normalized, organized and analyzed, unprofitable areas of the business are revealed and new opportunities are exposed.
So what can your pharmacy data tell you?
Are your patient volumes growing, declining or holding steady?
Is your business gaining, losing or maintaining patients within each age group (i.e. baby boomers, Gen-X, millennials, Gen-Z)? Data can tell you when patients first became customers, why they became customers (a new diagnosis, ongoing chronic condition, medication costs, ability to pay cash, certain types of insurance, etc.), and how long on average they remain a customer.
If you notice a decline in active patients or a lower than expected active patient count, technology might be a factor. Patients expect simple and intuitive digital interactions with your pharmacy. This includes auto-fill, intelligent refill reminder notifications, intuitive online ordering, the ability to pay using services such as Venmo or PayPal, curbside pickup and home delivery to name a few. If you are losing patients, it may be time to consider upgrading the technology solutions you leverage to facilitate your patient experience.
Are you losing Medicare patients during open enrollment?
Leveraging data can help you understand what percentage of patients transfer their prescriptions because they selected a Medicare advantage plan that wasn’t accepted by your pharmacy. There are tools out there that can help you easily consult with patients and provide them cost-effective plans accepted by your pharmacy.
Are referrals still driving traffic to your store?
What does your data reveal regarding originating prescribers or clinics? If you monitor this data, you can watch for any falloff in referrals from prescribers or clinics that were once driving patients to your pharmacy. If you discover declining volumes from a particular prescriber or clinic, you can reach out to work through any issues. You can also look for new prescribers or clinics and develop new relationships.
Are your delivery and mail services profitable?
If your pharmacy offers delivery or mail services, what does the data look like before, during and after COVID-19? Many pharmacies were forced to quickly adapt to the rapid demand for these services brought on by COVID-19, but patients living in a post-COVID-19 world will expect these convenient services to continue. By leveraging data to understand how these services are utilized, you can ensure that they are optimized, profitable and sustainable. For example, should you consider contracting out your home delivery or modifying fees in order to keep this service profitable long term?
Which clinical services would make the most sense for your patient population?
What does your data tell you about opportunities to expand clinical services? I find that many pharmacies with active vaccination programs are still not vaccinating at their full potential. Beyond just COVID-19 and flu, many patients need other vaccinations like pneumococcal, shingles and HPV. Leveraging data can help you identify immunization gaps and recommend appropriate vaccines to your patients.
You can also leverage data to determine what percentage of your customer base is diabetic, trying to quit smoking or trying to lose weight. If you find that you have a high percentage of patients in any of those categories, it may make sense to expand your business to provide DSME, smoking cessation or weight management services.
Never underestimate the power of data
Why do you think companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are obsessed with collecting and mining their users’ data? Because data tells you about the needs of your consumer, and helps you make informed, strategic decisions to keep your business growing and profitable.
Your data has a lot to tell, and it wants you to listen.
Data is king!
Duane Smith, Technical Director, Fusion-Rx Product Management