Pharmacy needs to reconsider ‘cheesy’ non-evidence-based services, stop letting pharmacists hide out the back and stop trying to out-Wool Woolworths, experts say.
The sector needs to move from supply of goods to the supply of services, delegates were told at panel session at the Friendlies Conference last week.
We must move into a different space around health services, said Nick Panayiaris, Guild SA president.
“It’s going to be difficult but we don’t have a choice because if we are not profitable we don’t exist.
“In fact, the best thing about Price Disclosure was that it gave us the biggest boot up the rear end that we needed: it changed our thinking and was a wake-up call.
PSA CEO Dr Lance Emerson agreed, saying current practice needs to change.
Emerson said pharmacy needs to get its service mix right and offer health services backed by evidence.
“In fact, there’s been some criticism of some banner groups jumping on the health services bandwagon offering ‘cheesy’ non-evidenced based services.
“What we really need is a model based around collaboration with other services providers locally.”
However, he also conceded that change is difficult.
“[But] the best way to institute change is through on-site coaching. (This is what we have done with our Health Destination Pharmacy program.) Then align your health services with the back-end business operations.”
A mixed picture
However, where there are opportunities there are also threats, said Steve Morris, chief pharmacist, SA Health, who has a background in hospital pharmacy.
“We need to think that we will see more individualised medications in the future: how will pharmacy evolve to meet that need?” said Morris.
“Also, we have to be realistic about things when we talk about the move to health services—not every pharmacist and pharmacy can provide all of them.”
Morris foresees a differentiated profession and pharmacy evolving to meet different individualised patient needs.
However, he said one problem that has dogged pharmacy has been a lack of integration.
“We need continuity of care but the current system doesn’t support it… more integration is needed so that patient receives seamless care.”
Morris said there could be a bright future for pharmacy if it was willing to take risks, but it was not used to taking them.
“It also needs to work with other stakeholders and become less insular than it has been in the past.”
You can’t out-Wool Woolworths
According to managing director of Willach Australia, John Koot, the future will be good for some operators but others who fail to change and remain price-centric, will fall by the wayside.
“The future is bright for some but for others it is awful… what is missing is many fail to think about what their customer wants and their expectations. Some tend to just focus on costs, and the reason we have this debate all the time is because pharmacy has made it that way,” said Koot.
“You cannot out-Wool Woolworths… stacking your stores with toilet paper; and half the stores look shithouse; and if you give the pharmacist somewhere to hide, like out the back in the dispensary, they will find it,” he added.
Koot stressed pharmacy had to stop thinking about what it wants and focus on the consumer and use technology so that pharmacy can delight the customer, not just because you like something yourself.
“Embrace technology that makes the consumer experience better; otherwise they will go somewhere cheaper.
Koot said it was imperative separate ‘value’ from the logistics. By that he means the value is the customer experience.
“Dumb the logistics down, up the focus on what adds value to the customer experience.”
Emerson said technology should be used in pharmacy to enable it be a health service platform offering POC and INR testing, and other services, rather than a goods provider.
Mylan’s Michael O’Brien, head of sales, said technology was moving so fast it was difficult to predict the future but it should be used to improve the back-end business operations and offer its customers a personalised service.
All panel members said pharmacy would be operating very differently than it had in the past. There could be rationalisation.
However, if pharmacy worked more cohesively and met customers’ needs and expectations, which included a health service platform; and linked health outcomes to investment, then the future could be bright.