Better data in pharmacy

Business Insights

The information and the needs are there. What’s your next step?

The Healthcare industry collects data and lots of it.  Pharmacy is no exception and owners should look inside their business for new ways of reaching out to their customers. 

Too many businesses keep pushing what they think the customer needs.  Listening to what the customer is telling them – whether that be by direct consultation or by their habits and spending patterns. 


What does the consumer think of Pharmacy?

The release by NABhealth of the NAB Pharmacy Report 20211 contains survey results conducted over 3 days in July 2021 of 1,000 Australian consumers.  Pharmacists made their usual appearance in the top three of the most trusted professionals, led by doctors and nurses. 


The survey

The survey covers a range of areas.  I have attempted here to identify some points of interest and discuss some implications for pharmacy practice and business.

For pharmacy, the results of the survey were a mixed bag:

  • Patients visit on average 18 times a yearThe Healthcare industry collects data and lots of it.  Pharmacy is no exception and owners should look inside their business for new ways of reaching out to their customers. 
  • Various factors were listed for consumers to choose their three most important factors when choosing a pharmacy. 
    There were two stand-outs:
    • ​the most important reason according to one in two people was convenience or location. 
    • Low-cost medication was ranked by three in ten people.
  • Discounters outranked traditional pharmacies, nabbing 48% of the preferred pharmacy for prescriptions and a whopping 59% for other products and services.  Consumers were asked what type of pharmacy they had typically visited over the past 12 months for each category.
  • On the service side, traditional pharmacies, in terms of satisfaction out of 10, rated 8.1 whilst discount pharmacies rated 7.8 (not a lot here between 1st and 2nd ). Online pharmacies rated 7.0.
  • In the key reasons for switching pharmacies, ‘paying too much’ came in strongest, followed by ‘having to wait for prescriptions’ and then ‘out-of-stock on medication’.

Community or traditional pharmacies might be surprised at the closeness of ranking on service satisfaction and the ongoing rising tide of opinion on the cost of medicine.  If a pharmacy is to take itself to market as a professional service provider and be judged on outcomes rather than price, it needs to take centre stage and call it out. 

Pharmacists are worth it.  They save lives, ease suffering and provide comfort and peace of mind. 
All of this is in the midst of sometimes unpleasant behaviour, lack of care, and a lack of knowledge from the customer. 

Ultimately it is a communication exercise of not small proportions and aiming to overcome the ‘customer is always right’ position with a position of knowledge and trust. 

That is where perception and actuality come in and the question is often asked as to what customer takes away from the visit having dealt with the pharmacist and the pharmacy, based on the setting, offering, customer experience and the pharmacy team’s service-ability.


Professional Services

The responses on professional services are interesting and the market in this area still seems to be trying to find common ground.  Pharmacy has not set the pace in terms of consistency around fee for service and therefore patient expectations are naturally setting the market. 

The Healthcare industry collects data and lots of it.  Pharmacy is no exception and owners should look inside their business for new ways of reaching out to their customers. 


1 NAB Pharmacy Report 2021 produced by National Australia Bank released in August 2021. All tables and data in this article are, unless otherwise noted, are from that report and NAB is fully acknowledged as the source for this data.

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