MURs – the elephant in the room and how to hit your 400 cap by Christmas

Peter Kelly
Peter Kelly

IN Dan Pink’s book, To Sell is Humanhe states that we are all sales people now, as all work now involves what he calls “non-sales selling.”

Our survival and happiness now depends, on our ability to persuade, influence and convince others to give up something they’ve got in exchange for what we’ve got. Medicine use reviews (MURs) are an exchange of time for information.

In the last few months, there has been a lot of talk about MURs. Most of it has been negative, critical and controversial. It has created a degree of confusion and anxiety around doing MURs. It has alarmed the newly qualified and the about to be qualified. The majority of pharmacists polled in a survey said they would like to see them scrapped and some probably believe they might be scrapped.

I am here to set the record straight, to reassure, to motivate and to inspire.

Firstly, MURs are going nowhere. They are here to stay.

While many MURs, can be a polite exchange that involves very little active listening or learning, they can sometimes be very effective and beneficial. There is enough evidence to back this up to keep the MUR paymasters happy.

The payment for MURs is reasonable enough. Reasonable enough that if there was ever any serious talk of their demise, pharmacy owners would talk them up so passionately, you would be forgiven for thinking they were the single greatest life-saving, medical intervention since someone else no one remembers succeeded, where Alexander Fleming failed and figured out how to turn penicillin into a usable medicine.

Secondly, if you want to bring your MURs up to the 400 cap (it is not a target) you need to work on your sales skills, not your clinical skills.

MURs are 90 per cent sales 10 per cent clinical.

The clinical side of MURs is easy, we all know it, we are good at it.

The sales side is a little trickier.

Rejection fraction
The elephant in the room when it comes to MURs, is MUR rejection.

Nobody likes rejection and to be frank, pharmacists are not used to it. The MUR hunter will be faced with a lot of rejection. From a simple “no”, to “it’s not you it’s me, I am in a hurry,” and the “why would I want to talk to you when I can talk to my doctor (who is much cooler and more interesting than you BTW)?”

Like all great sales people you have to take rejection on the chin, tell yourself, it is nothing personal and move on to your next mark.

The average strike rate for MURs is 1 in 4. For every person who thinks it is desirable to give up their free time to have an unsolicited chat with a stressed out pharmacist, gesturing at them frantically to join them in the consultation room like a lady or man of the night in a Soho alley way, there are three other people who have surprisingly better things to do.

Patients know they can benefit from the information given in MURs. The problem is that most people would rather be entertained than educated. And pharmacists just aren’t known for being very entertaining. I am actually surprised so many people agree to doing MURs. I could think of nothing worse than having a chat about the frightening possible side effects I might get from the tablets I have to take for my medical condition. Talk about putting a downer on your day off.

MURs are can be like a modern form of confession. “You had three takeaways last week? With your blood pressure? You better do three runs and a couple of star jumps this week to make up for it”.

So how do we make MURs more fun? How do we increase our strike rate from 1 in 4 to 1 in 2? How do we learn to sell the sizzle not the sausage?

The first step is to warm up your audience. Every person who walks into your pharmacy may at some point be eligible for an MUR. Therefore, every time someone enters the shop, make eye contact, smile at them and if you are in the mood and it feels right, throw them a little cheeky wink. Winks are old school but they work. Everyone loves to be on the receiving end of an appropriate and well executed wink.

Next step, the patient is eligible for an MUR. It is show time! Sales is all about performance and imagination.

At this point I will take a second to imagine that I look and sound exactly like Leonardo DiCaprio in the opening sequence of The Great Gatsby.

I strut out into the shop and announce: “Missus T, would you like to join me for a medicine review in the consultation room?”

That is what I actually say, however this is what I imagine I am saying: “Missus T, would you like to join me, on an adventure of a lifetime, the greatest adventure, two human beings have ever, embarked upon. We will travel the high seas, exploring magnificent cities past and present. We will taste the sweetest fruits the gods ever imagined and I will have you home in time to watch Coronation Street with a lovely cup of tea.”

Who could say no to an offer like that?

MURs are here to stay, when they work well, they are very rewarding and beneficial. Most of the time you will feel like you are trying to sell fruit to children who just want to eat ice-cream and chocolate. Alas, these are the joys of modern life.

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