Digital disruption and the pandemic have combined to create new expectations among healthcare consumers, and pharmacists will ignore them at their peril, says Guild president
Community pharmacists will need to strongly consider their online offerings to allow for 24 hour patient access, and to consider partnering with local aged care facilities and other institutions, says Trent Twomey, national president of the pharmacy Guild of Australia.
These steps have all become essential if pharmacies will be able to meet changing and expanding patient demands for services and flexibility of contact, said Mr Twomey, speaking at seminar hosted by CommBank.
The twin impacts of digital disruption and the COVID-19 pandemic had changed, and sped up ongoing changes in consumer behaviour around expecting home delivery, all day access to website booking facilities and flexible arrangements for dispensing and collecting medicines.
“While we are, of course, extremely protective of location rules, ownership rules etc, digital disruption does mean that the demands made by consumers are changing, and we in pharmacy do need to sondier how we respond to this” Mr Twomey said.
“Consumers really now expect to be able to access pharmacy 24 hours a day, to be able to at least interact with your online offering to book a slot to see you and collect their medicines the next day.”
“There is now a blurring of the physical with the virtual worlds in pharmacy, and our job at the Guild is to work with our members, and with key stakeholders and groups, to help our members through this change process,” he said.
“So the question for us all is how can community pharmacy play a role in outreach programs? How can we work with residential aged care centres to deliver medicines, and counsel patients, for example? It’s another step in us getting out of the dispensary and into these facilities.”