A Better Pill: Pharmacy Cleaning for Increased Business

By Amy Milshtein

A Better Pill: Pharmacy Cleaning for Increased Business

More than a place to fill prescriptions, drug stores sell convenience. While pharmacies make about 90% of their annual profit from prescription medicine, according to Drug Channels, today’s consumers can fill those scripts anywhere. Modern drug stores set themselves apart from the grocery chains, club warehouses and even mail-order outlets that dispense medication by offering diverse products and unique services under one roof. While it’s a great strategy to attract and retain customers, added foot traffic makes pharmacy cleaning more important than ever.

A Shot in the Arm

In 2010, pharmacists in all 50 states were cleared to administer vaccinations. This turned your local drug store an attractive, convenient place to get that yearly flu shot. A few years later national chains like Walgreens and CVS bet big on in-store health clinics. Business Insider reports that in 2013 there were 1,020 such sites around the country offering basic, walk-in medical care. Some clinics go one step further, diagnosing and treating chronic illnesses like asthma, diabetes and high cholesterol.

With extended hours the in-store clinic is certainly convenient. "I'm a mom and it could be an evening and a child has an ear infection, and my primary care physician, my pediatrician, may not be open. The retail clinics can provide a great option," said Heather Helle, a divisional vice president at Walgreens in the Business Insider article. Lower costs and transparent pricing add to the appeal.

Compounding the Issue

Some pharmacies set themselves apart by offering compounding services. The American Pharmacists Association (APA) defines compounding as the creation of a drug by a licensed pharmacist to meet the unique needs of an individual patient. This lets the pharmacist adjust dosages, reformulate a drug to remove non-essential ingredients like dye or gluten or even add flavor to make the medicine more palatable to a child. Of the approximately 56,000 community-based pharmacies in the US about 7,500 specialize in compounding services according to the APA.

A Prescription for Clean

While specialty services will draw in customers, thorough pharmacy cleaning is crucial. “Looks matter,” says Bruce Kneeland, pharmacy development manager with Epicor Software Solutions in Drug Topics. “Clean does not cost but it sure pays.” Kneeland strongly urges keeping the variety portion of the store--the part that sells cards, candy and stationary--clean, organized and well-lit.

Stores with an on-site clinic need even more care. Drug stores always served a higher proportion of sick people, add a walk-in clinic and the chance of spreading infection grows. Floors, sinks, cash registers and washrooms should be cleaned daily or when visibly soiled.  Pay special attention to touchpoints: countertops, seating, door knobs, faucet handles or anywhere else a contagious person might make contact. Scrupulous cleaning will help protect you, your staff and customers from illness.

Compounding pharmacies are regulated by USP <797> and USP <795>. The standards provide strict guidelines for cleaning, disinfecting and testing the results

For more information on tools to help with touchpoint cleaning in pharmacies, click here.

Image source: freeimages.com

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein

Amy Milshtein covers design, facility management and business topics for a variety of trade publications and consumer magazines. 

Her work has won several awards, most recently a regional silver Azbee Award of Excellence.

She lives in Portland, OR with her family and Clyde, a 15-lb tabby cat. Once an avid hiker, these days she finds herself on the less-challenging -but-still-exciting 'creaky knees' trails.

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