Skip to main content

4 tips to enhance the patient journey – and your business, Part 2.

When I went through my undergraduate education in pharmacy, I was told, if there are red flag symptoms/signs, refer to a doctor. That was the end of that conversation.
Jane Xia

Read Part 1

It was not until I experienced this firsthand as a patient that I realized: the patient journey and experience are complex and frustrating. This is also an opportunity for businesses to create value and profit from providing much needed solutions.

When I went through my undergraduate education in pharmacy, I was told, if there are red flag symptoms/signs, refer to a doctor. That was the end of that conversation. 

So, how can we help - and increase business? 

Read Part 1

1) Empathizing with your patients and addressing their needs can increase patient loyalty

We all understand that patient/customer loyalty leads to sustainable business. Let’s talk about this. 

In a non-health-care environment, most customers encounter loyalty-eroding problems when they engage in the following (1):

  1. Having to re-explain an issue.
  2. Getting switched from the web to the phone or in person.
  3. Resolving an issue requires moderate to high efforts – e.g. waiting for a long time on the phone after listening to various options again and again.
  4. Being transferred from one person to another.
  5. Having to repeatedly contact the business to resolve an issue.

I can think of many instances where patients have had to go through that and stopped going to a pharmacy because of their frustration with the process.

Now, imagine a patient with a language barrier, low or no health literacy, financial problems and other issues to deal with in life. How will this patient manage his/her disease properly? Often, the patient gives up and ends up not taking the medications prescribed. Instead of asking why, we are too “busy” to engage in a conversation and immediately categorize this patient under non-compliance because the refills were not requested on time or medications were not taken according to the label.

Often, we are bombarded with a million different tasks that require our attention, and to sit down and empathize with the patient requires our energy, time and potential delay in operations. The truth is, patients value our insights, empathy and effort to understand their needs. Our speed and adding something extra to delight our patients are not value-adds in the grand scheme of things, our listening and health advice to address their needs are (1). If we are curious about our patients’ problems, we are able to identify opportunities to increase patient loyalty by providing solutions. When we can increase patient loyalty, we keep the business and profits continuing to come in, simple as that.

2) Comparing the actual patient journey with the expected patient journey will help us pinpoint our value proposition

To gain insights into an actual patient journey for a disease state of interest, which can be very zig-zagged and confusing, we have to speak to a number of patients to understand where health navigation becomes challenging for them and what barriers are stopping them from achieving better disease management.

There are many expected patient journeys, which are very streamlined, published and available online. This information comes from the lens of health-care providers. By comparing and contrasting the actual versus the expected journeys, you can identify gaps and formulate solutions. In addition, I would suggest that you talk to other health-care providers. Their knowledge and understanding can help you visualize a more holistic view of your value proposition.

For instance, a patient who is newly diagnosed with Type II diabetes is avoiding going to government-funded education sessions. As health-care providers, we may assume that this patient is non-compliant or perhaps just refusing to learn more. When asked, this patient responds that the sessions are only offered Monday-Friday during working hours (which means the loss of a day’s pay) and the parking at the location being offered is extremely expensive. With this understanding, you can consider offering diabetes educational sessions on the weekends at your pharmacy but also tag on medication reviews for these patients if they qualify. Moreover, you can promote this clinical service to different GPs, endocrinologists and nurses by sharing your value proposition and acquire more customer referrals to your pharmacy business.

3) Price the service or product based on your research of your customer’s willingness to pay

One of the vital steps is to research/ask about your customer’s willingness to pay for this value you are providing. We may assume that no one wants to pay out of pocket because items we sell in the dispensary are funded by the government or paid for by 3rd party insurance. I will state this: If we are able to tell the patient and inform them of the value of our service (i.e. better disease outcome, easier journey to better therapy) and the patients are interested in these types of outcomes, we are able to price an out-of-pocket fee. Do not sell yourself short.

4) Do the math

As pharmacists, not all of us are taught or interested in dealing with numbers. “That’s a banker’s job.” In reality, we deal with numbers every day. Our pay cheques, our budget, our family financial status, price of clothing, cost of living. I can go on and on. Truth is, do not shy away from facing the music of financial calculations. To do so:

  1. Figure out your market size in the community you are serving by using epidemiological data to help you calculate a rough number of patients who will likely use your services. Make sure your services are designed on a yearly basis to ensure this flow of revenue is stable over time.
  • For example, 20% prevalence in a community of 15,000 people yields 3,000 patients.
  1. Calculate the total dollars you will make based on the price you are planning to charge.
  • For example, $50 per consult (20 minutes) x 3,000 patients = $150,000 Voila, you have a rough idea of the potential income of this service.
  1. Think about your expenses, and do a rough calculation of potential profit.
    • If you are not getting a positive number, think it over; how do you add on additional products or services that make them valuable and attractive to your patients?

When we care, we will be intentional with our time management and choose to listen to our patients’ needs over tasks that will constantly be there to nag us to work mindlessly faster. Let’s understand our patients’ journey and experience, identify those gaps, build our value proposition, create a sustainable source of revenue and showcase our worth.


  1. Dixon, M., Freeman, K. and Toman, N., 2022. Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers. [online] Harvard Business Review. Available at: <> [Accessed 21 September 2022].

Read Part 1


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds