We meet the finalists in the Guild Pharmacy of the Year competition… introducing Terry White Chemmart Hawthorn
Competing against a neighbouring discount pharmacy has highlighted to Terry White Chemmart Hawthorn in Victoria the importance of providing professional services to its customers.
Proprietor Andrew Farmer describes the store as concept patient store and says that its strong performance shows people want advice and services from their community pharmacies.
“It has been a big challenge being next to a Chemist Warehouse and competing against this discount model,” he says.
“But we have found that focusing on the customers and their needs had helped overcome the threat from the competition.
“We know that customers coming in to us are making a clear choice that they are coming in to our store for health and advice, and not just for the cheapest product that they can source.
“So they are here to engage with us; to learn more about the medicines they take, to talk to us about how they can get better and also what they can do proactively for their health.”
Farmer says he sees the way ahead in the face of the challenges the profession faced was to shift our focus to reducing its reliance on the PBS.
“Instead we have to focus on all the things that make pharmacists and pharmacy great.
“We have to use our expertise and skills to play a bigger role in the health of patients,” Farmer says.
“We have so much to offer in areas like health and advice and we need to use these so customers know they can come in and talk to us.”
He pointed to the design of the Hawthorn store as reflecting the emphasis on greater customer engagement.
“We now have a couple of pods in front of a dispensing machine and the whole store is now on one level,” he says.
“This means the customer comes up to the pod and starts engaging with the pharmacist. The pharmacist can speak to the customer, scan the code on the prescription and then reach behind them for the medicine.
“This frees them up so they can engage with the customer about any ancillary health services or any other items they might require or any issues they may want to discuss with the pharmacist about their medicines and about their prescriptions.
“As a pharmacist you are on the same level as the customer; you are looking at the customer directly. You’re not behind a counter looking down on them from two steps up.
“Our philosophy is for all the staff to have better customer engagement and to be there for the customers all the time.
“So in addition to the pharmacist at the pods we have a professional care pharmacist on the floor during the busiest hours of the day and their role is to basically be there for the primary healthcare needs of our patients.”
The pharmacy has two consulting rooms and one is for use by its allied health partners – the most popular of which is the nurse practitioner but it also offers other services like a podiatrist and a physiotherapist.
The second consultation room is used to professional services like weight management, MedsChecks, Diabetes MedsChecks, SpotChecks for skin cancer and blood pressure testing to name a few.
“All of these services help to improve the health of our patients and our patients really appreciate being able to access them through their local community pharmacy,” Farmer says.
“We have a big emphasis on staff training so the pharmacists and pharmacy staff are trained to be approachable. We are approachable and as a customer you can come in and get your medicines and talk about your health needs. We are there and ready to help you.
“The staff have been upskilled in many areas of OTC medication, they are therefore able to offer a superior and knowledgeable service to all customers.”