Perspectives on the pharmacist’s “product”: a narrative review
Clarity about the pharmacist’s “product” is fundamental to developing and communicating the value of pharmacy offerings. It is clear within the profession that pharmacists use their scope of knowledge and technical skills to address medication-related needs of individuals and populations. However, confusion still remains in the professional and public literature about what a pharmacist precisely produces for society. Is it a drug, service, program, solution, or something else? As the profession evolves from one that focuses on dispensing drugs to a profession that seeks to achieve positive patient health outcomes, pharmacists need to better conceptualize and articulate what they produce. This narrative review explores ideas from the marketing, business strategy, and entrepreneurship literature to discuss diverse perspectives on the pharmacist’s product. The four perspectives are the product as (1) a tangible product, (2) an intangible service, (3) a “smart, connected” good or service, and (4) a solution to a customer problem in whatever form provided. Based upon these perspectives, the pharmacist’s product can be any combination of tangible or intangible, face-to-face or virtual offering produced by pharmacists that seeks to satisfy medication-related needs and wants of pharmacy patients and customers. Ideas discussed in this review include the total product concept, classification schemes from the services marketing literature, the theory of service-dominant logic, the concepts of “smart, connected” products and industrialized intimacy, and the jobs-to-be-done framework. These various perspectives offer lessons for pharmacists on how to innovate when serving patients and customers and to communicate the pharmacist’s value proposition to the people they serve.
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