Capitalize on growing demand and provide your patients with personalized wellness care with your practice’s online supplements store
If you’re looking for a way to gain supplemental revenue for your practice while providing your patients with additional support for their health, an online supplements store may be just the thing you (and your patients) need.
According to the Council for Responsible Nutrition’s (CRN) 2021 survey, 80% of American adults take dietary supplements. Opening your online supplements store will allow you to capitalize on this growing demand, while also providing your patients with personalized recommendations based on their unique health needs. Your patients will also benefit from having a trusted medical source to answer any questions or concerns.
Online supplements store: selecting the right fit
There are numerous dispensary providers to choose from when setting up your online supplements store, but not all offerings are the same. The three most important features to look for when selecting a provider include innovation, flexibility and compliance tools:
- Innovation — Technology is constantly evolving, but it’s still common to find software that has remained stagnant over the years. It’s important to select an online supplement partner that continuously invests in its platform with useful features like patient-facing apps and software integrations.
- Flexibility — There is no one-size-fits-all medical treatment, and the same goes for practices. When searching for an online supplement dispensary, you want a platform that gives you the ability to customize your store to your office and patients. This includes the option to pick and choose what products to sell as well as make personalized recommendations for patients.
- Boost Compliance — Patient compliance is a top priority, yet still one of the biggest struggles for health practitioners. Technology can make things easier and more convenient for patients to adhere to medical recommendations, but it has to be just right. Make sure you choose a provider that has an intuitive and easy-to-use platform from both the practice- and patient-facing sides. Features like automatic refills and refill reminders can also greatly improve compliance.
Other features to consider when searching for an online dispensary provider are support and marketing. Support features can apply to both your patients and your staff, with online solutions centers, help lines and chat functions to field questions about the platform or the products. Common marketing features to look for include options for co-branding your dispensary and pre-made marketing materials such as signage and email templates.
When comparing online dispensaries, make sure to keep a running list of what features each company offers, so you can select the one that provides the best options for you and your practice.
Setup is quick and easy
Getting started with your online supplement store is a breeze. Once you’ve decided on an online dispensary provider, sign up for an account, provide a copy of your health care license and credentials, and you are ready to go.
Medical providers are exempt from retail licensing, so there is no additional paperwork or permits required. You can select what products you’d like to make available from your account portal and begin making personalized recommendations to patients.
One of the greatest benefits of an online supplement store is that you don’t have to make space for inventory or worry about shipping. Your store provider handles everything in-house, and the costs of these services are typically rolled into the product pricing.
Spreading the word
As with any new service, it will take time for your online supplements store to grow. To help you spread the word, introductory e-blasts, social media posts and signage are great ways to let your patients know about your new supplement service.
Clinic-wide recommendations or discounts on common items like immune support or multi-vitamins are another good way to catch the attention of patients.
However, the most effective way to grow your supplement service is to make personal, face-to-face recommendations to your patients. In a 2014 CRN survey, 55% of respondents pointed to their health care provider as their most-trusted source for reliable information on dietary supplements. Don’t discount the effect of a personal endorsement. After all, you know your patients best.
Recommendations, especially when made in-person, are more likely to get patients to purchase than an impersonal email.
Adding an online supplements store to your growing practice is a quick and easy way to provide additional support for your patients’ health, plus it’s a smart way to continue growing your business. Make sure to do your research when looking for a dispensary provider so that you find a flexible, easy-to-use system that has the features that best fit your practice.
JACLYN SMEATON, ND, is senior vice president of medical affairs at Emerson Ecologics.