If you’re going online or don’t want the hassle or expense of running a dispensary, in 2022 there are a number of options for Australian herbalists wanting to outsource their client dispensing.
Some companies offer a one-stop shop, not only with a wide range of liquid herbal brands but herb and nutrient supplements as well, while others only dispense fluid extract prescriptions.
Pros and cons of outsourcing client prescriptions
Like most business decisions, there are pros and cons to outsourcing. Much will depend on the size of your clinic — the needs of a solo practitioner being different to one with multiple clinicians and dispensary staff.
- It can be empowering for clients to leave an in-person consultation with a trusty bottle of herbs.
- Delays in receiving remedies may not be suitable for acute or other time-critical presentations.
- On-the-spot dispensing may be cheaper for the client, with no additional postage costs.
- Some practitioners love dispensing, feeling their personal input adds an extra vibrational energy.
- Ideal if you’re working online/remotely.
- Outsourcing can save practitioners time and money.
- No dispensary set up costs.
- May offer access to a wider variety of herbs than solo clinicians can usually afford to keep in stock.
- It frees up admin time as there’s no stocktaking, ordering and unpacking.
- All the companies listed offer rebates or mark ups, so this continues to provide a revenue stream.
Practitioner dispensing options
Currently (June 2022) there are four main practitioner fluid extract dispensaries, in addition to local apothecaries or health food stores.
These online dispensaries fall neatly into two categories: ones that only provide liquid herbal dispensing or others that meet all your prescribing needs, with a full compliment of herbal tablets, nutritional supplements, pessaries as well as individual herbal prescriptions.
Liquid herbal dispensing only
Both these businesses use the same model. Herbs are priced per 100/200/500 ml bottle, with an additional charge for premium herbs. Just like dispensing in your own clinic, the client pays the practitioner the retail price directly. Practitioners can lodge prescriptions online or by phone — neither websites appear to be fully automated, The herbs can be sent to the clinic or directly to the client.
The Herb Group, is ‘partnered with Integria’ and currently lists 122 herbs in stock. Almost all are Mediherb, with 5 Optimal Rx. The only other product on offer is vitamin E cream base.
Postage $12.50 (Express Post)
Pricing example: standard 200 ml $35 (Inc. GST) Suggested pricing to patient $50 + $12.50 postage = $62.50
Herbal medicine online is independently owned by a medical herbalist (Linda Krick). She currently has 85 herbs available, mostly Mediherb liquids, a few Optimal Rx and Herbal Extract Company. Though the website notes to contact them if there are additional herbs you’d like to be added. They also stock a few herbal creams and flower essences (Bach and Australian).
Pricing example; standard herbs 200 ml $51.50 (including GST)/freight free. Suggested patient price ~$54 – $59.
How do they compare?
Their pricing structures are different but come out more or less comes the same. At first glance The Herb Group offers practitioners a greater profit with a cheaper client price, while Herbal Medicine Online is the opposite. Though both leave it to the practitioner to set their price. Keeping in mind the shipping cost, selling on a standard 200 ml herbal to your client at $62.50, would provide a similar profit regardless of the company used.
Consider sending an identical inquiry to each company to get a sense of their response time and customer service. I contacted Herbal Medicine Online to access their product list and Linda replied promptly and was delightful to deal with.
I haven’t received any practitioner feedback about either of these companies yet. How have you found them?
These two companies offer a very similar service. Both are fully automated. You lodge the prescription online through a practitioner portal and they notify the client who pays the company directly. As you build a herbal prescription there’s often a choice of manufacturer for each herb you add, with the weekly dosage shown. They both charge per ml/per herb, so prices vary depending on the prescription.
The practitioner can adjust the patient pricing to some degree. Rebates are paid directly into the practitioner’s account monthly.
Ariya is independently owned by three sisters. Shilo Mason and Tia Brennan are practicing naturopaths, you can talk to them if you have any questions.
After a long delay on their website update, from early 2022 prescription lodgement is fully automated. Liquid herbal brands include Mediherb, Pharmaceutical Plant Company and Herbal Extract Co. As they’re also a practitioner product wholesale distributor, their range is extensive and I’ve never had a supply issue for liquid herbs. They stock an equally impressive range of nutritional and herbal products, tablets, pessaries, Bach flowers and offer special order compounding. The company has a commitment to ongoing education and supporting practitioners learn and grow.
Bottle sizes are 25 – 500 mls, however you’re not limited to the bottle capacity, eg: can prescribe 400 mls in a 500 ml bottle.
Postage: $10 flat rate
Pricing is flexible, offering the widest manual over-ride of up to 40%. This means you can offset the postage price if desired. Currently there’s not a flat percentage discount option, so you need to edit the price of each product.
Natural Script is owned by Natural Chemist (developed by pharmacist and naturopath Diana Booth). “Our team includes pharmacists, naturopaths and nutritionists.”
Their liquid herb range includes Mediherb, Pharmaceutical Plant Company, Optimal Rx, Herbal Extract Co. There’s also herbal and nutritional compounding, full range of supplements including powders, capsules, oral suspensions, creams, suppositories, pessaries, and transmucosal troches and flower essences (Bach and Bush). They offer over 200 ‘practitioner-grade’ brands.
Bottle sizes – appears to have set bottle sizes.
Pricing: Can adjust patient pricing by up to 20%.
Postage: Delivery is free for orders over $99.
Orders under $99: $7.95 fee for regular post or $14.95 Express Post (within Australia). International freight available.
UPDATE 9/2022: Natural script charge a “pouring and consumables” fee of $17, on top of their price per ml.
How do they compare?
Both companies offer an extensive range of products, so it might come down to your specific patient requirements. While there’s a lot of commonalities, each offers some remedies that the other doesn’t.
I use Ariya and love them (especially now the new website is up and running) and find their customer service, product knowledge and commitment to the profession is outstanding.
I’ve talked to other practitioners who are equally passionate about Natural Script and happy with their service.
The deciding factor may come down to overall price to the client and which company aligns best with your values.
Natural Script, is pharmacy owned and oriented. The parent company, Natural Chemist, describes itself as “your favourite pharmacy and trusted natural health clinic combined”, offering paid online consults on both “mainstream and complementary medicines”. While Ariya is owned, run by and created for naturopaths.
Do you use, or are considering using, a herbal dispensing service? I’d love to hear your feedback, just drop a message in comments or get in touch.
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