Setting up a clinic is NOT difficult!
Having said that, I will point out that you must adhere to certain key elements that I shall discuss below to ensure your service is safe and meets the standards of the regulatory bodies.
Policies and procedures
Firstly, you will need a set of documents that outline how the service will be carried out and, most importantly, systems to monitor, evaluate, and improve your services, i.e., a clinical governance framework.
A sample list of policies and documents I use within my clinic can be seen in table 1; however, although they are generally applicable within the UK, they have no legal standing or authority.
Scope of practice
In line with governance arrangements, you must work within your competency and scope.
As a starting point, I recommend acute conditions because you do not need to be a prescriber to manage them as there are plenty of over-the-counter treatments and patient group directions to assist you.
Do not ignore this!
Seriously, you need to undertake regular audits to ensure high quality of care and that the services provided by the clinic are meeting the demands of the patients who use them. Areas that might require regular audits include assessing patients, your record-keeping, antimicrobial prescribing habits, etc.
It is crucial to ensure when setting up a clinic, you are either GPHC or CQC registered. In general, if you are carrying out a ‘regulated’ activity, you may need to register with the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Branding and Marketing
Now, this is where things become fun and challenging, and I intend to discuss this concept of building a brand and marketing in more depth in future articles.
For now, let’s start to challenge your theories and definitions of marketing.
Let me ask you what do you think is marketing?
If advertising, posting on social media, having a website, or raising awareness are the terms, actions, or phrases that come to your mind, then, in my opinion, you are WRONG!
At this point, you may be a bit confused; well, that is fine because I, too, at one stage, thought marketing and advertising were synonymous, and marketing is all about simply raising awareness.
However, once I started to research and read literature by individuals like Seth Godin and Simon Sinek, I soon realized marketing is all about helping others become who they seek to become, and, as pharmacists, we are all ideally placed to help patients become the best versions of themselves by helping them achieve optimal health and well being.
At this point, you are probably wondering, ‘Faheem, how does this information help my clinic and me?’
Well, let me explain. At some point, you may have been told or heard to improve your sales; simply raise awareness about your product by advertising as much as possible through social media, newspaper ads, TV screen ads or start writing articles on your website to improve your search engine results.
The problem with this approach is that if you do not have a product that people actually want and the product does not better their lives or society, you are just a ‘swipe away’ from being ignored. The good old days of running ads on TV and bombarding people with subliminal messages are over because people no longer have to watch your ads or connect with you; you are a click away connecting from with billions of people and a click away from being ignored!
Take it from me, do not only advertise the features of your product, such as free delivery services or online consultations, because you are not the only one offering these services, and I bet someone can do it cheaper than you. So instead of just advertising your features, consider telling people your story and how your product can better their life; now isn’t that something worth paying for?