Global forces, advances in telecommunications, and the age of mobility and consumerism have combined to revolutionize the health-care system. What used to be a closed and isolated system of key players—doctors, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and medical device firms—has been cracked open. If patients were traditionally the passive recipients of physician care and treatment, today they are active consumers willing to pay for their own health care and seeking the people, technologies, tools, and partnerships that will best serve them.
Under the changing health economy, new players are stepping into the ring, including retailers, tech companies, airlines, and hotels that are providing basic health-care services, incentives, and benefits for consumers outside the traditional health-care model. All around the world, millions of people are downloading health apps, using their phones, mobile devices, and computers to access medical information, consultation, and even diagnosis and treatment.
In the new medical business model, one of these key new players is retail pharmacists, who have begun to fill not only prescriptions but the wants and needs of their customers. Leveraging their assets, local pharmacies are now providing ear checks, vision tests, flu shots, strep tests, and more services—along with bread, milk, makeup, and movies. Close, convenient, and easy, consumers are embracing their neighborhood pharmacies as a go-to source of basic health care—but not only because the price and location are right.
By far, pharmacists are one of the most trusted group of health-care professionals in the industry. While once confined to drug dispensing activities, today’s neighborhood pharmacist is a trusted source of advice and consulting who often is knowledgeable in home remedies and alternative treatments. Moreover, in a tough, competitive economy, pharmacies are looking for new sources of revenue and ways to capture the market. If delivered with care, retail pharmacies can seize the moment by offering valuable services that will be readily adopted by consumers, such as catering to the aging population, providing solutions for chronic disease management, selling medical wearables, and other services.