The pharmacy channel is playing a critical role in marketing

Authored by: Jeff Monroe, VP of Product and Marketing, Outcomes

As highly trusted healthcare professionals, pharmacists are experts at identifying barriers to medication adherence and helping patients overcome them. Pharmacists play a key role on the healthcare team and often coordinate with other healthcare professionals for prior authorization requests and therapy changes on behalf of a patient. As we look to the future of care, pharmacists will take on an increasingly significant role as suggested by their expanding clinical capabilities and capacity to fill care gaps created by the physician shortage. As pharma manufacturers recognize this trend, marketing strategies are leveraging the trusted pharmacy to engage patients.

Leveraging the patient-pharmacy relationship at scale

The mitigation and control of the COVID-19 pandemic are largely thanks to contributions of healthcare workers, including community pharmacists, who worked tirelessly to provide diagnostic testing, administer vaccines, and prescribe antiviral treatment. For example, pharmacists administered more than 270 million COVID-19 vaccines from February 2020 through September 2022.

Beyond the pandemic, the impact of pharmacies on Americans' health is far-reaching. Pharmacists are one of the most accessible healthcare professionals. In fact, nearly 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy. Additionally, pharmacists are particularly influential on patient health outcomes in rural and underserved demographic areas in which the pharmacist may be one of the only care providers for miles. The pharmaceutical industry and policymakers realize that pharmacists serve as a key solution, as they consider future plans for healthcare delivery.

The role of pharmacists is expanding

While the pandemic highlighted the critical role of pharmacists, the pharmacy profession has already been evolving and expanding over the past few decades.

Previously, pharmacists primarily focused on filling prescriptions and reviewing drug utilization as part of the dispensing process. Today, pharmacy teams are still dispensing but have expanded into many more clinical services, such as immunization, medication management and adherence programs. Pharmacists are actively identifying gaps in care and making therapeutic interchanges when appropriate. Currently, 39 states recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers under Medicare Part B.

Although some of the following responsibilities vary by state, pharmacists currently have the authority to inject long-acting medications, conduct pharmacogenomics testing, and prescribe certain medications. In all 50 states, pharmacists have the authority to prescribe naloxone as part of the efforts to combat the opioid crisis. On July 6, 2022, the FDA granted authorization to all state-licensed pharmacists to confirm eligibility and prescribe Paxlovid for the treatment of COVID-19. Pharmacists can also prescribe hormonal birth control in 20 states and counting. Most states also have collaborative practice agreements in place between a prescriber and a pharmacist to allow prescribing of other medications, such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to help prevent transmission of HIV.

These are just a few examples of how pharmacists demonstrate their advanced clinical role and ability to impact patients' short- and long-term health outcomes while coordinating with other providers on the healthcare team. As the role of the pharmacist evolves, they become an essential part of care management, from drug regimen optimization and lab interpretation to care plan creation and closing gaps in care.

The U.S. currently does not have enough physicians. The shortage is growing each day, and experts project a shortage of nearly 140,000 physicians by 2030. The good news: pharmacists are positioned to help with these gaps in care. In addition to their expanding clinical role, about 300 published studies show that pharmacist-provided medication management services contribute to significantly improved outcomes across disease management, costs savings and quality of life.

Engage patients through pharmacy

As the nation's most trusted drug therapy experts, pharmacists are uniquely positioned to meet patients where they are and support them along their healthcare journeys. In fact, patients with chronic conditions interact with their pharmacist up to 10 times more than with their primary care physician each year. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are shifting marketing dollars into the pharmacy channel, where drug brands can provide tailored education, access patient populations on specific drug therapies, improve adherence, expand brand reach and achieve healthier outcomes. For instance, pharma brands running engagement programs through pharmacies are achieving 7-11x ROI, as demonstrated by Outcomes™ programs.

Outcomes – which has the largest pharmacy network including over 60,000 pharmacies and over 40 million patients – intuitively flags individuals most in need of personalized care, such as medication therapy management (MTM), ensuring pharmacists consult the right patients at the right time. For patients with less complex needs, text campaigns prove to drive adherence and bring patients back to therapy.

For pharma, Outcomes provides solutions for three primary objectives:

  • Awareness: Inform patients of medication, supplies and immunizations that may be helpful to their current treatment regimen.
  • Access: Offer support and connect patients with resources to help them afford their medication.
  • Adherence: Provide education and resources to keep patients adherent to their medication.

Learn more about how the Outcomes pharmacy network can elevate your brand.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.