The Guild’s CP2025 analysts have identified nine growth pathways for the community pharmacy sector

And it’s vital that pharmacy businesses take action now rather than wait and hope change won’t be needed, they say.

Pharmacy Guild executive director David Quilty writes in Forefront this week that the Community Pharmacy 2025 strategic planning project released a vision for the sector’s future during the recent APP conference.

The Guild and its strategic adviser, Pottinger, have agreed on a 2025 vision that Mr Quilty says is “achievable and actionable” and will serve “the needs and preferences of patients and consumers through a vibrant, dynamic and commercial community pharmacy network”.

Pottinger reportedly considered three scenarios for the sector in 2025 and beyond: do nothing; a worst-case scenario; and a “preferred” realistic scenario.

The latter requires a “proactive approach” to changes in the industry, emerging competitive forces and changing customer and stakeholder needs and preferences, Mr Quilty says.

Meanwhile, “the Orima market research found that community pharmacies are meeting the expectations of patients who are focused mainly on convenience and cost, but who – like owners and employees – see the importance of increasing community pharmacies’ service focus and have an appetite to pay for new services that are not currently provided by pharmacies,” he says.

Using the analysis and market research, Pottinger identified nine growth pathways, which in order of strategic and commercial priority are:

  • online
  • health services
  • community/health hub
  • business operations
  • in-home care
  • coordination, accreditation and partnerships
  • automation
  • leveraging the brand
  • new products.

The first four of the nine are considered by the Guild to be the highest priorities.

“A comprehensive strategy is needed to equip the CP2025 workforce with the skills required to unlock value both to itself and the community,” Mr Quilty writes.

“This up-skilling should encompass all facets of the CP2025 community pharmacy, including: complex and specialised medicines; technology and automation; patient services; retailing; management, financial literacy and organisation design; collaboration with other health professionals; and a greater understanding of aged care, disability and mental health.

“The report also stresses the need for community pharmacies to understand the interdependencies between the various growth pathways and to embrace change on a whole-of-pharmacy basis, recognising that medications advice, management and safety is the strategic destination for community pharmacy going forward and lies at the core of multiple future growth pathways.

“In presenting the report at APP, Pottinger’s co-founder Nigel Lake and CEO John Sheehy emphasised the importance of early action and that they would work with the Guild in consultation with members and stakeholders over the coming months developing practical action plans for community pharmacies that would be underpinned by costed business cases.

“Lake and Sheehy stressed that a failure to start taking action or waiting too long to get started were the biggest risks for businesses facing the prospect of disruptive change,” Mr Quilty writes.

“It was far better, they said, to make early, incremental investments in business change that can be built upon and amended as required, than to wait until it is too late in the forlorn hope that change will not be needed.”