Retail Pharmacy Trends That Will Impact 2024R
etail pharmacies play a vital role in healthcare by providing access to medications, health products, and valuable health information. As we look ahead to 2024, the retail pharmacy landscape continues to evolve, driven by new technologies, shifting consumer preferences, and new healthcare paradigms. The traditional role of the retail pharmacy is expanding, blending healthcare services with enhanced customer experiences.
Here’s a look at some of the key trends expected to impact the retail pharmacy industry in 2024.
Digital Health Integration
Retail pharmacies are increasingly adopting digital health technologies. From mobile apps that allow customers to manage prescriptions and appointments, to telehealth services that connect patients with healthcare providers, digital integration is becoming more prevalent and is enhancing the convenience and accessibility of healthcare.
Customers are increasingly using digital platforms to access pharmacy services. In 2023, 81% of customers said they rely on digital platforms to interact with their pharmacy, up from 76% last year, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Pharmacy Study. As a result, retail pharmacies will continue to expand their digital capabilities next year, offering remote consultations, prescription renewals, and access to health-related resources via secure digital platforms.
Personalized Customer Experiences
Personal interactions with pharmacy staff can help increase customer satisfaction and build long-lasting relationships. Customers value pharmacies that deliver personalized service, including interactions where communications occur on a first-name basis and when the pharmacist is available to answer questions. These elements of personalized service enable brick-and-mortar pharmacies to forge meaningful connections with customers and deepen their relationships. Retail pharmacies are also offering online experiences that enable customers to receive personalized guidance and recommendations to improve their health.
Grocery giant Albertsons debuted Sincerely Health, a digital health and wellness platform that provides users with a personalized view of their health. The platform allows users to link activity trackers such as Apple Health, Fitbit and Google Fit, as well as log their vitals and medication regimen. Customers can then set goals to improve their health, track their progress, and receive actionable insights and rewards for achieving those goals. Sincerely Health also offers an online pharmacy solution that includes tools for managing prescriptions, scheduling vaccine appointments, and connecting users with general practitioners via telehealth services.
Health and Wellness Services
Retail pharmacies have been growing their healthcare service offerings as customers have become more comfortable with the cost-effective care and convenience of the pharmacy locations. Retail clinic claims volumes grew 200% from 2017 through 2022, mainly due to high usage during the pandemic, according to a Definitive Healthcare report. Retail clinics outpaced other sites of care in large part because the federal government made national retail pharmacies a key part of its COVID-19 vaccination strategy. People have become more comfortable with receiving vaccinations and other medical services at these clinics.
In 2024, retail pharmacies will continue to expand their scope of services beyond dispensing prescription medications as they adapt to increasing customer demand. Eighty-three percent of brick-and-mortar pharmacy customers are interested in receiving health and wellness services at their pharmacy, according to the J.D. Power study. Top services named included immunizations or flu shots (50%), health screenings (46%) and COVID-19 testing (42%). Additional services may include wellness checks, chronic disease management, and nutrition recommendations, positioning pharmacies as a one-stop shop for health and preventive care.
Prescription Fulfillment Automation
Demand for prescription delivery is growing as customers increasingly take advantage of digital platforms to fulfill their healthcare needs. Additionally, the aging population is growing, leading to a rise in chronic health conditions. Many chronic diseases require regular medication, driving the need for efficient pharmacy fulfillment and delivery services. Companies are increasingly turning to fulfillment automation and digital platforms to increase operational efficiency, speed up fulfillment processes, and manage their fulfillment and delivery operations more effectively.
Walgreens recently opened its 11th automated micro-fulfillment center, which uses robots to fill prescriptions and ease pharmacist workloads. The automated pharmacy fulfillment centers support more than 4,300 stores and fill over 2.3 million prescriptions each week across 29 states. By eliminating repetitive fulfillment tasks, pharmacists can be more hands-on with customers and provide healthcare services such as testing and treating medical conditions. Walgreens is working on improving the rollout of its fulfillment facilities before opening the final five micro-fulfillment center locations.
The retail pharmacy industry in 2024 is poised for innovation, expansion of services, and a heightened focus on patient well-being. These trends reflect the industry’s commitment to providing accessible, personalized, and technology-driven healthcare solutions. As retail pharmacies continue to evolve, customers can look forward to a more holistic and patient-centric approach to their health and well-being.
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