October 1, 2023

The Future of Pharmacy

By: Amy Greenwood, Director of Consumer Health & Wellness, Evoke Mind+Matter

How do Pharmacists feel about their changing industry? We asked them.

Back in May, I wrote a blog about Sunak’s pharmacy plan. With increased reliance on Pharmacists to take pressure off GPs, the future of pharmacy looked very different all of a sudden. I was interested in what Sunak’s plans could mean for OTC marketing. And, as an agency that creates marketing strategies for Pharmacists, it was important to know how Pharmacists, themselves, felt about the shift from drug dispensers to health consultants.

So, we asked Pharmacists across the country what they thought about the future of pharmacy.

 When the results came in, it was great to see there is general optimism around the idea of pharmacies becoming comprehensive health hubs. But it will probably come as no surprise that many Pharmacists also had concerns. Because, without adequate funding and support, was this a realistic achievement?  

Our research found that Pharmacists welcome the opportunity to offer more services. In fact:

77% of Pharmacists say they’d like to spend more time providing clinical services.


83% say checking/dispensing medicines is what they do most.

As well as looking to the future, we also looked at the situation today.

Recent research commissioned by the PAGB found that, for every £1 spent on OTCs, £840 was created as an economic and social benefit to the UK.[1] In turn, this saves the NHS £6.4bn in prescriptions and appointment costs.[2] 

But even though this industry is crucial to so many people, in so many ways, the reality right now is tough for many Pharmacists.

Research carried out earlier this year by the Pharmaceutical Negotiating Committee (PSNC) found that 71% of community pharmacies are experiencing a shortage of Pharmacists.[3] Meanwhile, 73% reported longer dispensing times.[4]

Our Head of Strategic Innovation, Joe Marshall, says:

“Overall, Pharmacists aspire to transform pharmacies into centres of health excellence in the future. However, they expressed frustration over persistent challenges, including inadequate funding, staff and medicine shortages and finding time for professional development.”

Our Pharmacists also shared a need beyond funding and staff shortages. One that we, as healthcare marketers, can help with.

To fully realise the impact that OTC and pharmacy as a channel can have in the UK, Pharmacists see the benefits of digital transformation. There are, of course, concerns that need to be addressed. Many of our participants, for example, were concerned about online pharmacies. They worried about the move away from face-to-face services.

But 6/10 say they would welcome digital support and training.

They also expressed an interest in collaborations with brands and companies. Partnerships that could create tools and apps for diagnoses and disease management.

Marshall continues:

"There is a huge opportunity for the industry to rally around the digital transformation of pharmacy. This would lead to a significant step change in self-care provision and help the OTC industry reach its full potential."

The Pharmacists we spoke to certainly felt hopeful about their role in delivering a more holistic service in the future.

This feeling is validated by the recent Edelman Trust report, which found that Pharmacists enjoy high levels of trust among consumers, with patients increasingly viewing them as the first line of defence against many minor ailments.[5] In fact, the report found that Pharmacists enjoyed the greatest rise in trust of any HCP.[6]

The next few years will be pivotal in realising the true potential of this previously underrated healthcare professional. But all the signs are there that Pharmacists could be the driving force in improving the nation’s everyday health provision in the future.

So what does all of this mean for you as a healthcare marketer?

It means we all need to adapt and grow in line with the changing industry. At Evoke Mind+Matter, we’ve worked alongside Pharmacists for many years. And as their jobs evolve, our marketing strategies do too.

We continue to listen and learn directly from the experts themselves, so we can give our consumer health and wellness clients the very best advice on how to be seen and heard in the busy pharmacy space.

To find out more about our Pharmacist research, or to talk to us about the changing world of OTC marketing, please contact Zak Mansford at Zak.A.Mansford@evokegroup.com. 

[1] The Economic Impact of Over-The-Counter products in the UK, Frontier Economics 12 July 2003, p4

[2] The Economic Impact of Over-The-Counter products in the UK, Frontier Economics 12 July 2003, p4

[3] https://cpe.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/PSNC-Briefing-009.23-Summary-of-the-results-of-PSNCs-2023-Pharmacy-Pressures-Survey.pdf

[4] https://cpe.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/PSNC-Briefing-009.23-Summary-of-the-results-of-PSNCs-2023-Pharmacy-Pressures-Survey.pdf

[5] 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

[6] 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer

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