Don’t choose between discounts and service

two happy pharmacists

Pharmacy no longer need be a ‘discount’ or ‘service’ model. The new ‘optimal pharmacy’ model optimises profits and health outcomes, writes Mouhamad Zoghbi

The general consensus between today’s pharmacy leaders is that we are in the era of either the service based or discount based model. I believe otherwise.

The pharmacy profession has become like two ships heading for a common destination with a bearing one degree off compass: eventually, they will have found themselves hundreds of degrees off course and thousands of kilometres apart.

A common enemy is a uniting force for pharmacy to reconnect and articulate a new direction. The conviction that my business model is ‘righter’ than yours has created distance between pharmacy factions.

The common enemy isn’t the government or the financial crisis.

Our common enemy is us (and yes, there is a ‘U’ (You) in ‘us’).

By combining the discipline of service and the strategy of discounts, pharmacy can make the most of their valuable resources and redirect themselves towards a common destination.

I would like to introduce you to the new ‘Optimal Pharmacy’ model, but before I explain the Optimal model, at its core, we need to address one important aspect and that is to ask ourselves, ‘Customer or Patient?’

(To read more about this concept please download a document titled “Effective Sales Strategies For Today’s Pharmacy Challenges” at the end of this article.)


The transformative question… Are they customers or patients?

When someone is visiting their physician, they consider themselves a patient. Interestingly enough, 72% of patients feel that they transform into customers after leaving a surgery and entering a pharmacy.

Why is this critical?

Because once the patient feels that they transformed from a patient to a customer, they lose their health essence and become financially oriented, and here is where the core of today’s pharmacy problems lies.

Patients don’t ask for the cheaper physician to treat their ailments, but the same customer may argue for a cheaper solution at the pharmacy. When patients feel they are treated as a retail customer and not treated for their health issues, pharmacy becomes no different to a supermarket, news agency or gift store.

To this effect, pharmacies must prevent the transformation from patient to customer.

For future reference I will call this shift ‘patient transformation’. Patient transformation is attained by acquiring a clear health focus no matter what part of the discount or service platform the patient stands on.


The Optimal Pharmacy concept

In pharmacy, teams are usually split into different sections: one assistant is responsible for the vitamins section, another takes care of the pain section and so forth.

In the Optimal pharmacy model, I have added a new dimension to the pharmacy team and that is:

  1. The Health Consultative team.
  2. The Price Consultative Team.


Both teams have a sole responsibility, and that is patient transformation: their ultimate responsibility is to improve the health outcomes of the patient.

This is the fundamental calibration within the profession that will create the common purpose which guides our two ships accurately towards a common destination.


The role of the health consultative team

Because there is no substitute for your patient’s health, the health consultative team’s role is to value health, protect it from the harmful effects of disease and let your patients know you anticipate their every need.

The health team’s influence emanates from the moment the prescription is dispensed until the patient goes to sleep.

The team devises strategies for specific disease states on how to optimise health outcomes and combine products with services that are highly profitable yet so valuable that the value exceeds what you receive in payment, creating loyalty.


The role of the price conscious team

The price conscious team functions under the ideology that: education is as potent as medicine and as powerful as a cure.

The inability for a patient to pay for treatment is by no means due to the lack of desire to be cured and symptom free; in the majority of cases it stems from a sincere inability to pay for their treatment.

This is where the discount team educates the price-sensitive patient on self support. Knowledge can reduce patients costs, gaining loyalty and delivering optimal health outcomes.

A vital factor with the discount team is to give the patient quality self care resources that save you time, increase patient awareness and saves the patient money.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”.


No longer a split decision

Yesterday belonged to the past. Learn from it and decide how fast you want to adapt to what you need to become tomorrow.

With location rules and de-regulation around the corner, your time has come to make a decision. Now!

In every pharmacy, the foundation of improving patient health outcomes enhances financial prosperity.

And today, to help you move towards greater success, I have presented the ‘Optimal Pharmacy’ model that optimises health and profits together.

If pharmacy is the health hub of the community, your pharmacy teams expertise is what determines the pharmacy’s health and prosperity.

Ill-equipped teams produce a poor performance, whereas a well equipped team with collaboration, leadership and genuine patient interaction at its core, enhances performance, amplifies value and accelerates results

Today there is a new journey of leadership and evolution to embark on, a journey that adds the best of both the discount and the service worlds together, creating an optimal pharmacy with results far greater than the sum of its parts.

Whether you are a discount model, a service based model or a ‘God only knows what I am’ model, let’s collectively calibrate our compasses to a degree never yet anticipated and embark on the Optimal Pharmacy journey together, bearing the power of improving the lives of the people of our nation by looking beyond profit to make more profit.


When Mouhamad Zoghbi was a pharmaceutical representative, he conducted over 7,600 pharmacy visits in Australia and across the world. From the sideline, he watched pharmacy regress from the community pharmacy to the retail pharmacy. His pharmacy specific training company and book titled ‘The Prescription For Pharmacy’ helps optimise pharmacy teams by combining the discipline of service with the strategy of discounts.

To learn more about optimising your pharmacy results, please download “Effective Sales Strategies For Today’s Pharmacy Challenges”. Click here to download.

Mouhamad invites readers to connect with him at APP2016 and ask him for a copy of his book.



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