Imagine a dispensary where a professional employee greets and checks in patients and customers; understands their complex needs; recommends a product, dose and delivery method tailored to each consumer; and acts as an education resource. While this scenario sounds like the unlikely alliance of a personal shopper and concierge doctor, it is actually a defined role in a growing number of dispensaries nationwide.
The Patient Care Consultant (PCC) position expands the traditional budtender role by focusing much more extensively on education, treatment options for specific conditions and product properties that are associated with a customer’s desired effects. Typically, the PCC utilizes scientific rather than anecdotal experiences. PCCs can also help your dispensary market to a broader audience, increase revenue per customer and boost customer retention.
The PCC is becoming a crucial role as medical and adult-use markets across North America continue to expand.
Follow these four steps to implement a PCC program at your dispensary and reap the benefits of patient/customer-centric service.
PCCs typically have experience in a healthcare environment, perhaps as a medical scribe, research assistant or project manager. They have scientific and communication skills that should be paired with a desire to learn and interact with patients. Identify internal candidates, and recruit from local colleges and universities. In my experience, PCC salaries range from $17 to $21 per hour.
A challenging and high-value component of a PCC program are product recommendations and dosing. Train your PCCs on which products can be used for what conditions and why. Similarly, adult-use consumers are increasingly seeking a certain experience or feeling from cannabis products. However, be mindful that based on state regulations, PCCs may not be able to recommend a particular product in the same way a physician or pharmacist would prescribe or dose a medication. In all markets, the PCC will utilize qualitative and quantitative data to show appropriate amounts and ratios of cannabinoids and terpenes to address certain symptoms. Build a training document that can recommend products with appropriate levels of THC, CBD, terpenes, release times and effect duration based on the consumer’s condition, treatment goals and desires. There is a depth of information on this in the industry for both flower and oil products. Many resources are available online and for hire.
PCCs must be experts in all products and delivery methods offered by your dispensary. Expect them to address questions such as:
- How do I use a vaporizer?
- Where do I place my transdermal patch?
- What results should I expect?
- When will the medicine take effect?
- How long will the effects last?
Build a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document for your PCCs and have them proactively review relevant FAQs with each patient.
3. Develop a Process
Develop a workflow to ensure a consistently high-quality experience for your patients and customers. The workflow should walk PCCs through:
- Greeting patients and customers, confirming their state registry status and collecting any relevant health history.
- Understanding the patient/customer objectives: What conditions are they trying to treat? What outcomes are they seeking?
- Recommend a product, amount and delivery method.
- Educate new patients and customers on delivery methods and what to expect from each.
Promote your PCC program to prospective consumers. Connect with patient advocacy groups for the qualifying conditions that are approved in your state. Offer to have your PCC attend and host learning sessions with these groups. In adult-use markets, target your marketing to people who “like” or “follow” high-end brands. Your PCCs can act as personal shoppers and educators, as well as brand ambassadors, for this market demographic.
Colin Kelley is a member of the LeafLine Labs board of governors.