Skip to main content

How do you let the community know about your counselling services?

Robert Heaton


Spreading word in the community about patient counselling is no easy chore. This is especially true when many of your customers would rather head for the parking lot with their medication than listen to advice from a member of your dispensary team.           

Providing first-rate care is an integral part of our job, so it’s imperative that we work hard to overcome patient barriers to counselling, such as shyness, inhibition, or lack of patience.           

But how do we convince patients that understanding their medication is important for their wellbeing? How do we persuade them to take a few minutes to sit down and discuss such important issues as how to properly administer their medication, the potential for side effects and adverse drug interactions, and how precisely a drug will help them?

In my view, it’s all about communicating and educating patients in a way that establishes the caring relationships that will eventually break down any inhibitions they have.  Once they’re comfortable in our presence, they are often happy to listen to our advice and more importantly, put it into practice once they begin taking their medication.           

This comfort level is attained by encouraging patients to ask questions and providing pertinent information that will put them at ease should they have any concerns.  Pharmacists and other members of the dispensary team should make themselves more approachable by getting out from behind the dispensary whenever possible.          

When questions arise, be sure to take the time to provide all answers in easy-to-understand terms, and if confidentiality is an issue, use a room where healthcare matters can be discussed in confidence. Before patients leave your pharmacy, make it clear that you are only a phone call away if they have questions or concerns once they are home and ready to take their medication.           

Once customers have confidence in your counselling services, word of mouth – the best advertising a pharmacy can ask for – will take over. They’ll tell friends and family, colleagues and neighbours, and before long more people in the community will seek your expertise when they pick up their prescriptions.

But informing your community about patient counselling shouldn’t stop there.           

In an era when the Internet is a key communications tool, pharmacies should use their websites and social media to trumpet the benefits of counselling. They should post up-to-date information that clearly explains not only their selection of products and upcoming promotions but also the benefits of counselling and how patients will be better off when they understand, among other things, how long it takes for a medication to begin working, how often to take medicine, when to take it, what to do if they miss a dose and when to seek help if there are problems.           

Patient counselling should also be featured every time your pharmacy distributes flyers or publishes ads in newspapers. By keeping it top of mind, more customers will take advantage of it.           

In the competitive world of pharmacies, your business must stand out from the crowd. It can be done by letting your clientele know that counselling is a customer service that you are better at than any of your competitors.

 Robert Heaton BScPhm has owned Cambrian Pharmacy in Calgary, AB since 1996.


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds