What the Tide of Big Data in Healthcare Means for Compounding Pharmacies

What the Tide of Big Data in Healthcare Means for Compounding Pharmacies

i-cadeceusImagine this scenario: Anna, a 45-year-old marketing executive who suffers from diabetic nerve pain, searches for topical capsaicin pain treatments online. While she is perusing your compounding pharmacy’s website, she gets a prompt to sign up for a quick video conference with one of your pharmacists to answer any questions she might have.

After she goes through her initial consult, comes in for lidocaine cream and tries it for several months, she reports skin rashes. Your pharmacist switches her to a medicated lidocaine patch instead and logs this information in your pharmacy’s system so anyone else who works with Anna will know that the cream’s formulation caused side effects, vastly improving Anna’s experience when she returns for other needs.

Does this sound like the future? It’s actually happening right now at compounding pharmacies who prioritize data collection and analysis to improve care. If this scenario isn’t something you can imagine at your pharmacy, you might need to consider better ways to leverage data.

“Big data” is a healthcare buzzword that has come to encompass the massive amounts of data now available as a result of using technology to streamline and connect healthcare operations. Data can tell healthcare operators how to run their organization better and how to serve their patients better, both of which ultimately boost revenue.1

For compounding pharmacies who work with individual customers, big data in healthcare is a wave you cannot afford to miss. The compounding pharmacies who fail to use data to improve their practice will be left behind as technology and patient expectations steam full speed ahead.

How Compounding Pharmacies Can Use Big Data to Make Patient Care More Intimate

“Data” should mean more than supply inventory, payroll and overhead, pricing and other information you need to run your pharmacy. Think of data instead as a strategic asset.

The compounding pharmaceutical industry is like any other healthcare sector. We’re moving away from being product-focused and toward a customer-centric and service-focused model. Think “holistic treatment approach to asthma” rather than focusing on delivering inhaler drugs, which is only one piece of the puzzle.2

Using data to track patient behavior can help you deliver more intimate, focused patient services. What do your customers want? Are certain products outpacing others in terms of customer preference? In what situations? What can that tell you about new products to develop or potential cross-selling opportunities?

As a compounding pharmacy, you’re at a unique crossroads between the clinical and the educational when it comes to patient interaction. Studies show that seven out of 10 patients trust their pharmacist as much or more than other clinical professionals. Make sure that your team as a whole is focused on more than simply compounding and delivering prescriptions, otherwise, you will miss opportunities to become more than order-takers for your customers.3

Compounding Pharmacies Who Successfully Leverage Big Data Will Gain a Competitive Advantage

Leveraging data comes with challenges, of course. Along with “big data,” another crucial and looming healthcare issue is patient data privacy. If we’re all collecting so much data, how can we store it securely and guarantee our patients’ all-important privacy?

For compounding pharmacies, one option to protect patient information is to ensure that all data is stored in your secure electronic health record system and not anywhere else. You can also ensure that you’re only collecting the information you need to make informed decisions about customer experience initiatives, and not wasting space and money storing more.4

It’s easier for larger healthcare entities to be out in front of data leveraging and analysis, of course, but any organization can focus on the key elements of harnessing data and promoting customer experience initiatives.

Here’s what “leveraging data” might look like at your compounding pharmacy:

  • More connectivity. No customer interaction should happen in a vacuum. Implement data and customer relationship management systems to track interactions and help your pharmacists and other staff educate your customers. If Robert comes in for a cystic fibrosis prescription, will the compounding pharmacist who works with him have enough available data to recommend vitamins and supplements from your other product lines?5
  • Health and wellness are the future. Americans spend a lot on personal health and wellness products, and research shows that they would prefer to think of pharmacology in these terms, rather than drugs for treating diseases or illnesses. Use your data to tell you how your messaging is resonating (or not) with people who are focused on these factors.
  • Focus on the experience. Don’t be the place where people stand in long lines for a prescription and then leave. Customers expect a retail experience from their healthcare providers today, and that includes compounding pharmacies. Use your customer and sales data to tell you how well or poorly customers feel about the experience you’re providing. Figure out where you can include a brief survey or a place for feedback. Engage your customers to find out what they want from you in all your public spaces, including your website and your brick-and-mortar space.6
  • Look for opportunities to get upstream. Most compounding pharmacies only secure a customer’s business if that customer decides to come in to buy a product or fill a prescription. What if you had the opportunity to secure a customer’s business from the moment they investigated products on your website?

Remember the earlier example of Anna and her video conference? That’s a great example of moving “upstream” in the patient cycle. Look for ways you can show your potential customers your ability to help them with their health situation earlier than you do now. Look for ways to show your existing customers other products and services you offer so they’re not finding out just by chance.

If your compounding pharmacy doesn’t deal with consumers often, you can still use data in all the same ways to reach potential and existing business partners as well.7

The traditional model of the compounding pharmacy is going the way of all traditional models. The compounding pharmacies that are best able to adapt and tap into the large amount of available data in the smartest way will be at the forefront of the new healthcare wave. We will all need to think with a retail mindset, be where our customers are and deliver what our customers expect to be successful.

Big data in healthcare doesn’t have to be a daunting proposition. Use data in discrete ways to become a modern compounding pharmacy serving the modern patient.

Pharmaceutica North America is a leading provider of high-quality active pharmaceutical ingredients and custom compounding kits. Contact us to learn more about how our products can help your compounding pharmacy provide the highest possible level of customer care based on your data.

Show 7 footnotes

  1. “How Big Data is Changing Healthcare,” April 21, 2015, http://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2015/04/21/how-big-data-is-changing-healthcare/#16aecd7032d9
  2. “McKinsey Quarterly: Seizing the potential of ‘big data,’” Oct. 2011, http://whispersandshouts.typepad.com/files/using-big-data-to-drive-strategy-and-innovation.pdf
  3. “How big data will disrupt role of community pharmacy,” Dec. 9, 2014, http://www.chaindrugreview.com/how-big-data-will-disrupt-role-of-community-pharmacy/
  4. “Business Intelligence and Analytics: From Big Data to Big Impact,” December 2012, http://hmchen.shidler.hawaii.edu/Chen_big_data_MISQ_2012.pdf
  5. “How big data will disrupt role of community pharmacy,” ibid.
  6. “How big data can revolutionize pharmaceutical R&D,” April 2013, http://www.mckinsey.com/industries/pharmaceuticals-and-medical-products/our-insights/how-big-data-can-revolutionize-pharmaceutical-r-and-d
  7. “Big data analytics in healthcare: promise and potential,” Feb. 7, 2014, http://hissjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/2047-2501-2-3
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