A case for change

cooper making barrel

Chris Brooker takes a look at the future of pharmacy

Have you ever considered what stress coopers (the profession, not the excellent South Australian brewery) must have been under as mechanisation and the move to new technology such as plastics and cardboard began to decimate their business in the early to mid-20th century?

Probably not, I suspect.

I only mention this once distinguished craft as an example of a skill that was not readily transferable to a new age, and that has largely disappeared by 2018.

Obviously I’m going to relate this to pharmacy, and was prompted to do so by a few recent talks I’ve attended which have led me to ponder the existing model of pharmacy practice, specifically community pharmacy, and to wonder if it is the right model to allow the profession to survive and thrive in the near future.

While attending ConPharm, the Australian Association of Consultant Pharmacists’ conference, in June, it was enlightening to hear (and piece together) a number of presentations referring to the future shape of medicine, health technology and pharmacy practice.

When thinking of the still-capped HMR/RMMR program, and its value in highlighting the absolutely vital role of clinical pharmacists, it does lead one to wonder how much of an opportunity pharmacy as a whole is throwing away here.

Then to listen to discussions on the future of personalised medicines, 3D printed medicines, the ever-increasing need for proper education and advice on complementary medicines, and especially the absolutely critical role pharmacy should play as an interpreter of ‘Doctor Google’ to the average punter, and you do wonder if the existing owner-based bricks and mortar model will really be able to do all this.

Maybe it will, but it will need to evolve pretty rapidly. And when you consider how slow many pharmacies have been to adapt to the push for clinical services, there’s really not much room for confidence.

The Guild’s current sniping on the pharmacists in general practice model, which does open up another career path for the burgeoning number of pharmacy graduates, also doesn’t reflect on a profession that is structured to embrace potentially radical change.

Another area that’s set to open up is pharmacist prescribing, and we look at that in this issue. This is another wait and see topic, although a surprising number of readers have been resistant to this idea in the past.

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