On a recent trip to my local Walgreens to get an annual flu shot, I noticed something different from years past in the pharmacy department. After checking in at the counter, I was escorted to a separate waiting area and then sat in a private booth with a window counter looking into the entire pharmacy. Next, the pharmacist on duty came over to administer a quick survey prior to receiving the flu shot. After the shot was completed, the pharmacists asked me other questions about my general overall health and how I was combating sickness during the cold and flu season.

While this experience might not seem like a big deal to some, I found it fascinating and engaged in a quick conversation with the friendly pharmacist.  His interactions weren’t because he was overly personable – the retail pharmacist is evolving into more of a consultative figure.  As part of a company-wide initiative by Walgreens, pharmacists are being told to engage in this type of interaction and consultation with all customers.

Other chains are also following their lead. Kerr Drug is launching a new campaign to get people to talk to their pharmacists. According to Drug Store News, the regional chain says it would launch the “Just Ask” marketing campaign in stores and across various marketing channels to encourage its pharmacists and patients to talk to each other about prescriptions, conditions, health practices and overall health.

“I know from working as a pharmacist that there are many reasons people don’t ask about their medicines, including confusion, embarrassment or the patient just not wanting to bother the pharmacist,” Kerr CEO Tony Civello said. “The ‘Just Ask’ campaign will encourage conversations and a sharing of information because it’s the best way to avoid poor health outcomes.”

Kerr also noted that surveys have shown 3-in-4 people don’t always take their medicines as directed, which can lead to serious health consequences, higher medical costs and longer recovery times. Kerr’s campaign will focus on 11 conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, as well as specific questions a patient might have.  It’s an interesting idea and one that will most likely get pharmacists more excited with their new consultative roles. With employees better engaging in customer needs, the end result is almost always more products flowing through the cash register.