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Safety and Risk Management Education for Healthcare Businesses

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If you own or manage a healthcare retail store, you likely work daily to help people feel better and live their best lives. But even with the best intentions, it's always possible for you or a worker to make an honest mistake, putting the business at risk of lawsuits and other liabilities. Here's a look at what healthcare stores should consider regarding retail sales training and staff education.

Employee Education is Ongoing

In any business, staff education and training are essential. Retail sales training helps with everything from productivity to customer service and keeping the storefront clean and presentable. You'll also want to cover government regulations and any major liabilities that could put your business at risk.

While it's obvious that you should train new employees, staff training should never end, that can be particularly true in a healthcare setting. Suppose you sell any kind of medications, supplements or healthcare products. In that case, you may fall under scrutiny from consumer protection agencies, ranging from local health departments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. You'll want to take concrete steps to ensure your team members know how to keep themselves safe, particularly if they handle hazardous substances, while also helping to keep visitors and customers as safe as possible, too.

Staff Education Goals in Healthcare Retail

While high-level goals around product or service knowledge, customer service and risk management apply to nearly all businesses, here are a few specific places to focus on staff education when you're a healthcare store owner.

Product Knowledge

When you go into a restaurant and ask if an item on the menu has a particular ingredient, it's important that the server knows or can quickly return with an accurate answer. For healthcare items, product and service knowledge is equally important.

Just as restaurants may be serving guests with allergies, healthcare stores play a role in their customers' short- and long-term health. Employees may be asked questions about how to use a particular product, what its ingredients include, potential reactions to it and more. The wrong answer could lead to serious consequences or even medical emergencies. Continued product education for new products and refreshers on older ones can help ensure accuracy and good service.

Customer Service

Customer service is another part of healthcare store staff education. While the basic concepts of acting courteous and being prompt and professional are universal, your business likely features unique customer service requirements and challenges.

In healthcare retail, employees may be expected to possess product knowledge that could include helping customers find the best product when inaccurate advice could lead to serious injury or illness. Depending on the products, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) privacy laws may apply. Retail sellers of controlled substances, notably retail pharmacies, may have additional rules from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to follow.

A single mistake could be dangerous, costly, and embarrassing for your business. Following a regular retail sales training schedule can help employees learn what to watch out for and how to respond to specific situations.

Safety and Regulations

While businesses should educate store staff about customer service and products, those may be best practices rather than requirements. Depending on the specific nature of your business, you may fall under the purview of a medical or healthcare regulator or rules from your insurance company that require certain staff training. Medical officesoutpatient care centersdistributors, and supplement retailers are all part of the healthcare ecosystem with unique safety requirements and rules.

Common places to look for guidance on safety and regulations training are your worker's compensation insurance company for general safety training and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for workplace safety regulations like Safety Data Sheets (SDS) placements. These forms must be accessible to employees who work in proximity to potentially hazardous materials. In healthcare retail, that may include anything from cleaning chemicals to products available for sale.

Risk Management

Some level of risk is unavoidable when you run a business. Even the safest stores could see an unintended trip or fall at their front curb or when a customer turns around a corner too closely. With the unique risks of healthcare products, it's wise to keep your team engaged in your risk management process to help minimize the chance of any accident or legal liability.

Part of risk management comes from continual education with trainings like quarterly safety seminars and annual product safety reviews. But your risk management is only as good as the team implementing it. With complex and high-risk healthcare products, enforcing safety standards is arguably more important than traditional retailers. Make sure your staff follows protocols for product storage (some may need refrigeration, for example), sanitation, expiration dates and more. Make sure they also practice common sense with customers, like not selling supplements to young people who are under 18 and may be using a product without their parent's knowledge or permission.

Your Team is the Front Line for Risk Prevention

If you own a healthcare store with staff, you likely can't be present for every customer interaction and sale at your place of business or anywhere else your products and services take you and your team.

Staff education is a core aspect of risk prevention and management that you should not overlook if you want to keep the worst of those risks at bay. Connect with a Westfield agent today to learn more about managing risk in your retail healthcare business.