When COVID-19 forced the shutdown of doctors’ offices across the country last spring, community pharmacies remained open — and pharmacists stepped up, taking on more patient counseling, immunizations and testing. And as COVID-19 vaccines have become more widely available, pharmacies — and pharmacists — have played a critical role in their distribution.
“Society is realizing that pharmacies are literally saving the world with immunizations,” notes Scott Knoer, CEO of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). “The access point of the community pharmacy is very significant.”
The medical marketing community has finally taken notice. While pharmacists have long been an important audience, their increasing responsibilities and rising profile as healthcare providers have made them an even more crucial group for marketers to reach, not to mention busier than ever before.
The resulting shift has prompted marketers to experiment with new channels as they try to cut through the noise. As they do so, questions have emerged as to whether pharmacists’ expanded scope of care, and subsequent increase in contact with patients, will outlast the current crisis. Either way, many consumers are unlikely to ever again view their local chain pharmacy as a mere convenient destination for M&M’s and paper towels.