Putting aside immediate returns but ensuring long-term sustainability has been a successful strategy for Hardings 24-hour Pharmacy in Brisbane, our fourth Pharmacy of the Year finalist
A major financial investment with minimal immediate return is the price that is often necessary to pay to help future proof community pharmacy today.
This was the view taken by Hardings 24-hour Pharmacy Annerley in Brisbane when it made the decision to undergo a major revamp and open 24/7.
Co-manager Chetna Patel said the team at the pharmacy recognised that community pharmacy currently faces many challenging hurdles each year.
“As part of overcoming those hurdles and establishing ourselves for future growth, in late 2016 we completed an entire shop refit, relocating our pharmacy to a much larger site and integrating a robotic dispensing system,” Ms Patel said.
“We have also evolved into a 24-hour pharmacy, open every day of the year.
“All this has been an enormous investment with a minimal financial return but it is a small step in future proofing our business.
“Our business model has always been based around the professional services and exceptional customer service that we offer.
“We continue to seek new opportunities to allow us to improve and develop our professional services to sustain a profitable pharmacy model. We look at what the community and our health professional colleagues need.
“We also endeavour to educate the community about the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach to community pharmacy and that pharmacies are much more than simply a medication/script destination.
“Our collaboration with other allied health professionals will maintain our unique place and achieve great health outcomes for our community.”
Changing the look
Part of the refit and move saw the pharmacy’s traditional forward pharmacy model being enhanced by redesigning the dispensary layout and workflow and placing it within a more centralised area of the pharmacy.
“This has greatly increased the opportunity for patient accessibility and interaction with our pharmacists,” Ms Patel said.
“Our forward pharmacy model has always allowed us to engage with our customers in a very personable way and this is a feature of the pharmacy and the services we provide.”
Ms Patel and co-manager Heidi Paech said the refit of the store and the focus on service were distinguishing features of the pharmacy.
Ms Paech said: “The reason we are different from discounter pharmacies is that our pharmacists and staff are very genuinely passionate about delivering professional services to our customers in our unique way.
“We’re also innovative in our approach to pharmacy. We’re a patient-focussed pharmacy that provides highly personalised interaction so that our patients can achieve the best possible health outcomes.
“As well as the refit our pharmacy has also heavily invested in expansion of our professional services, with the addition of a larger dedicated diabetes clinic managed by a credentialed diabetes educator, a naturopath with a dedicated consulting room and vaccination clinic room.
“Our latest addition is a Medical Cannabis Clinic, staffed by a specially qualified GP.
“Also the extension of our trading hours for pharmacy services to 24 hours, seven days of the week has been achieved with no government assistance.
“In the past 12 months, our pharmacy has also implemented wound care and smoking cessation clinics and a sleep study clinic.
“In mid-2017 our pharmacy was internationally recognised for our innovation and was awarded the APAC Insiders Australian Enterprise Award for Innovation.”
Letting the locals know
The two co-managers said the pharmacy was very active in a wide range of community events, with a particular emphasis on health promotion and awareness activities.
Pharmacy staff regularly participate in national awareness weeks within the pharmacy and customers and local community members are invited to attend and participate.
“These events are very real opportunities for our patients and customers to learn more about being actively involved in the management of their health and well-being,” Ms Paech said.
“During these awareness events, we offer free professional services. And these allow customers to understand the importance of these services and how they can be used to improve their health.
“We also invite other allied health professionals to the pharmacy, to engage with our customers and offer them complimentary screenings and services.”
This close collaboration is highlighted in the relationship the pharmacy has with the adjacent SmartClinics.
Practice Manager Cherelle Shirlaw said the clinic had an excellent partnership with Hardings Pharmacy “and the symbiotic relationship we have at SmartClinics Annerley also underpins quality care provision from the different yet aligned services. We regularly receive significantly positive feedback from our patients regarding Hardings Pharmacy pertaining to their ‘customer ‘service and professionalism and also the stock availability.”
A focus on education
Ms Patel said the pharmacy’s credentialed diabetes educator regularly presented at local seminars for patients and these were often attended by other allied health professionals as well.
The pharmacy team also works closely with the University of Queensland and Queensland University of Technology pharmacy placement students to give students a first-hand experience of a successful forward pharmacy model.
Ms Patel is also an external advisory board member for the University of Queensland. The owner Russell Harding also has outside interests and is the CEO of MedReleaf Australia, a medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing company about to start servicing Australian pharmacies and patients.
Hardings Pharmacy is a long-term supporter of Canteen and has developed a unique VIP loyalty club which allows customers to donate their reward dollars to the organisation.
“This sees us donating a considerable amount each month and we are proud to be able to make a difference and offer such a unique program where our customers can feel proud of their contribution towards a great charity,” Ms Patel said.
“We also regularly fundraise for a number of other charities such as the RSPCA, Cancer Council, SIDS and Epilepsy Queensland, just to name a few.
“We are strongly involved in community organisations and regularly attend and support local school fetes and community fairs where our community service team spends countless hours preparing and volunteering their time and professional services.
This work is always very well received by the community and set us apart from our discount competitors right across the road.”
Ms Paech said the pharmacy’s business model recognised the critical need to encourage the professional development of all staff.
“We believe this is vital to the future success and sustainability of community pharmacy,” she said.
“A number of staff meetings are held throughout the year which foster peer interactions and provide the staff with an opportunity to be actively involved in key decisions about the direction and development of the business.
“This helps to create a sense of ownership and appreciation for the high level of professionalism and service within our business.
“The business also provides many training opportunities both online and as practical training sessions to further develop the knowledge and confidence of our pharmacy team.
“Our pharmacy staff attend various conferences and specialised training opportunities both locally and nationally, subsidised by business.”
The pharmacy has recently invested time and money for another of its pharmacists to upskill and become a credentialed diabetes educator.
“This furthers our diabetes clinic’s ability to meet the demands of our community,” Ms Patel said
“We have also invested in establishing a wound care clinic, with our pharmacists attending advanced wound care training seminars and practical hands-on training sessions.
“We believe that by investing in our staff, we are able to uphold the value of community pharmacy and sustain our position as a high quality primary health care provider.”