Pharmacy brands means little to customers, with most only visiting a pharmacy if it’s convenient and open when it suits them, says PSA Pharmacist of the Year Lindy Swain – and other health professionals don’t even understand what pharmacists do.
“My feedback and perception is that customers see very little difference,” Swain told delegates to the recent NAPSA Congress.
“But personally, I perceive no difference in service or advice—they are all nice, polite, and friendly with limited or no health service.”
Health professionals in particular totally ignore a pharmacist’s contribution to the health space, she says.
“They talk about managing cancer, cardiac and diabetes patients and the cycle of care, but a pharmacist is never mentioned. We are forgotten.
“I have attended other workshops where pharmacy has been totally denigrated by leading health professionals,” says Swain.
“We are missing the point of branding. Pharmacy needs to be the brand. We need to be selling what a pharmacist can do, as very few people seem to understand what a pharmacist does.”
A successful and effective pharmacist is one who understands things from a patient’s perspective, she says.
Swain admits this is difficult to do if you are young and healthy.
“If you have never suffered from chronic pain, been mentally ill, had a traumatic life that leaves you feeling totally disempowered or an elderly person with multiple medications and memory loss, how can you understand why patients are not taking ownership of their own health?” she asked.
“There is a way to try and that is by caring if the patient is getting better; if you care that the patient understands—then you automatically become a good communicator and grow a successful business.”
There is huge unmet need in assisting the ageing population, Aboriginal health services, palliative care teams, mental health teams, pain management clinics, renal, cardio and diabetes clinics, she says.
“We need defined roles, properly salaried positions and/or reimbursement of services delivered through an MBS item number like other health professionals.
“I have managed to push my pharmacy career in many directions. I never let an opportunity pass me by.
“If you are brave and take a leap, things can just lead to other things.”