A Prescription for Patient Success: What Pharmacies Can Teach Us about Selling Supplements
Patients usually leave their conventional doctor’s office one of two ways:
– With a prescription in hand
– An electronic prescription that has been sent directly to a pharmacy
The process from there continues to be straightforward. The patient goes to the pharmacy, fills the prescription, and is on their way, no questions and no changes to the product, dosage, or cost.
When it comes to leaving an integrative practitioner’s office, however, the process can be very different. Instead of (or in addition to) a prescription, patients may be provided with a list of recommended supplements.
Those patients then have the option to either purchase from their practitioner’s in-office dispensary (if they have one and have the correct products in-stock), or search for the product elsewhere, where they may not find the exact product and dosage their practitioner has recommended.
So, how can practitioners avoid this can of worms and make sure their patients are getting the correct supplements that will make a positive impact on their health?
Patients seek convenience and practitioners want quality and outcomes. Unfortunately, the convenience of ordering supplements online often leads to low quality (and ineffective) product being purchased. But here’s the good news — practitioners can meet their patients’ needs while offering a quick and convenient shopping experience by opening their own online dispensary.
An online patient dispensary, like Wellevate by Emerson Ecologics, is more than an online store. It is a practice management tool that is designed for the specific needs of integrative practitioners and their patients. It fits the conventional paradigm by providing patients with three key things: specific quality products, exact dosages, and convenient delivery.
Specific Quality Products
When patients fill a prescription, they are not asked to find the product that works for them. The medicine quite simply comes as it is prescribed.
Wellevate can do the same thing. The practitioner can create product recommendations within each patient’s account and choose exactly what products are made available for the patient. The patient logs into the Wellevate portal, views the recommended products, and adds them to their cart. There are not 20 different calcium products to choose from, and there is no sales associate recommending a different product than the one on their list.
One particular value in offering specific products to patients is the assurance of quality. Dietary supplements do fall under FDA regulation, but their safety and efficacy are not FDA-reviewed before marketing. Product quality can vary dramatically from company to company, making it particularly important for practitioners to only make choice products available for their patients.
When patients fill a prescription, it is dispensed in a precise dosage with precise instructions. When it comes to dietary supplements, however, there is no standardization of dosing from product to product. In order for products to be effective, they must be delivered at therapeutic dosages. The Wellevate platform includes a dosage tool where practitioners can enter specific recommendations for quantity, frequency, and times to take dietary supplements. This eliminates any confusion or potential mistakes in patient compliance.
Patients are able to fill prescriptions at pharmacies located on nearly every street corner. Pharmacies are typically open for 13 or more hours a day. It is easy to get in before or after work and now there are even drive-through options. When it comes to purchasing products from an integrative practitioner‘s office, however, office hours are often much shorter. One of the most commonly cited reasons that patients do not continue to purchase products from their practitioners is convenience.*
Online retailers have filled a consumer need: retailers like Amazon offer thousands of dietary supplement products, which are available for order 24 hours a day. With an online dispensary, patients have the best of both worlds: assurance that they are purchasing the high-quality products their practitioner recommends, along with the convenience of purchasing those products anytime and anywhere.
By adopting an online patient dispensary, clinicians can capitalize on the benefits of the conventional/pharmacy paradigm. They can offer specific and high-quality products, specific dosage recommendations, and the convenience of 24-hour service.
*Source: Nutrition Business Journal. Practitioner Channel Deep Dive. 2017