Having difficulty recommending OTC supplements to your patients? We put together some guidelines and best practices for how to successfully discuss nutrient depletion, based on independent pharmacies like yours!

Before you talk to your patients about the benefits of supplements, make sure that your staff is well-versed on the topic of nutrient depletion. This clincial guide is an extremely helpful resource that details the science behind nutrient depletion and the benefits of each recommended supplement. 

Tip #1: Print the clinical guide to use as a reference

Keep the guide in a three-ring binder by your patient check-out station to reference during patient conversations.  

Once you feel you and your staff are prepared to initiate these conversations, it's time to share your knowledge with your patients! Remember, your patients trust you as their healthcare professionals. You are here to fill in the gaps that doctors may overlook when prescribing their medications.

Tip #2: Start the conversation by asking your patient if they are experiencing any of the common side effects. 

This will help you gather information to better frame the rest of your interaction. After this question is asked, the patient will reply in one of two ways. Below are examples of how to respond in each situation. 

Conversation A:
Pharmacist: Hey, I see here you are taking [medication]. Have you been experiencing [side effects]?
Patient: Now that you mention it... I have been experiencing [side effects]!
Pharmacist: I am sorry to hear that, but not to worry as this is a common side effect of [medication]. The good news is that [supplement] is commonly used to help treat [side effect]. Here is a handout with more information about [supplement]. 

Conversation B:
Pharmacist: Hey, I see here you are taking [medication]. Have you been experiencing [side effects]?
Patient: No, I don't think that I have...
Pharmacist: I'm happy to hear that! [Hand them the educational handout]. [Medication] can cause your body to feel [side effects], and [supplement] is known to help in treating [side effects], so let us know if you start to notice anything new and we would be happy to help you out.

In Conversation B the patient is not experiencing the side effects. This should not deter you from empowering him/her with knowledge. Giving patients the handout to take home gives them the time to assess if they are in fact experiencing any of the common symptoms you described. 

One pharmacist shared with us that he had a patient who had been taking cholesterol medication for over 20 years and she thought muscle cramps were something she would have to live with for the rest of her life. After her pharmacist recommended CoQ10, the muscle cramps completely went away! This seemingly small suggestion has the power to make a big difference in the lives of your patients. 

Tip #3: Focus on education over selling

The intention of these conversations is not to increase sales. The intention is to improve your patients' quality of life by offering valuable information that can help maintain their well-being. The moment you think of it as purely "providing education" and not "selling", the more successful you'll be! 

Tip #4: Make the interaction personal 

You know your patients best, and they trust you! Cater your conversations differently based on who you're speaking to so that the information resonates with them.

Even if your patient doesn't end up buying a supplement, the touch-point with them still has a positive outcome in that it increases patient loyalty and sends the message that your pharmacy is a "wellness hub". Offering resources and information beyond just dispensing medications establishes a meaningful relationship with your customers, letting them know they have someone in their community looking out for them.  

What's Next? 

Learn more about best practices for increasing your supplement sales.

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