The role of the pharmacist in patient care and information is a
developing one. No longer mere prescription processors, they advise on
the use and application of medicines and have become so much more
accessible that they are often the first port of call for minor
Boots the Chemist aimed to draw attention to the pharmacist as
information provider. In the first of a series of initiatives focusing
on the management of chronic conditions, it chose asthma for a 1996
patient care initiative, kicking off in National Asthma Week starting 7
To develop and publicise information and advice available from Boots on
asthma, to enable the pharmacist to complement that given by GPs and to
improve overall patient care.
Greenlines, a specialist in healthcare communications, was appointed to
develop the Boots ’Living With Asthma’ concept. It produced a supporting
video and range of literature comprising an application to join the
programme, information leaflets targeting adults and parents of children
with asthma, an illustrated children’s book, and a quarterly
Editorial content was developed with an advisory group, including the
Doctors in Asthma group, a hospital consultant and the National Asthma
Campaign, organisers of National Asthma Week. The creative emphasis of
the programme was on enjoying life to the full by managing your own
Boots appointed key pharmacists as area co-ordinators and sent them a
’Living With Asthma’ pack, with briefing and display guidelines, and a
presentation kit for local events at clinics or schools. Publicity
material was distributed in early October and a helpline set up for
people joining the programme.
Boots’ in-house PR worked on creating pre-awareness of the programme,
focusing on topicality for national press and ongoing issues for women’s
and consumer press.
For regional publicity, major stores received press kits to promote
individual in-store activity during National Asthma Week, such as ’test
your inhaler technique’.
Boots distributed 750,000 information booklets to its stores and more
than 30,000 people signed up to the programme, exceeding the initial
target by more than70 percent.
Boots says the helpline has had a steady stream of callers, while
feedback from Boots pharmacists indicates a marked increase in the
number of people seeking information on medical issues.
Press coverage of the programme to date includes the News of the World,
the Mirror and the Daily Mail, over 100 mentions in the regionals, and
consumer titles such as Family Circle, Zest and Good Housekeeping.
Broadcast exposure includes items on Central TV news and around 20
regional radio stations.
With three million sufferers in the UK and the condition becoming more
prevalent, especially in children, asthma was a good choice for Boots to
demonstrate its commitment to taking a lead in health education. Repeat
prescriptions mean that asthma patients see the pharmacist far more than
the doctor, and as long as the pharmacist is only there to reinforce
messages, the Boots initiative has the support of medical professionals.
As Janis Churton of Boots says: ’Pharmacists’ level of knowledge is
extensive and they will always refer people to their GP if necessary,
but the ’Living With Asthma’ programme has established a level of
confidence and an atmosphere in which they feel comfortable asking
Client: Boots the Chemist
PR Team: In-house/Greenlines Healthcare Communications
Campaign: Living with Asthma
Timescale: Six months to October launch and ongoing