The pharmacy paradigm shift

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.” 


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  1. Michael Post

    You read it here first folks – the Pharmacy Guild President advocates for significant and 24 hour expansion of pharmacy services to meet changing consumer demand .
    You can’t have it both ways Trent .
    You can’t evolve AND maintain brick and mortar location rules. Change and expansion of services outside the pharmacy while locking your colleagues out of pecuniary interest in the supply of medication and services is counterintuitive.
    You acknowledge the world has changed and insist it is perilous not to act and yet with a desperate grip seek to maintain anachronistic brick and mortar location rules. These rules do not serve the community demanding enhanced service- they serve the pharmacist owner pocket and the sausage factory supply model .
    Our politicians need to wake up to this employer union self serving dogma and initiate legislative change to expand the market to location rule free general pharmacist ownership.

  2. Michael Ortiz

    The Pharmacy Paradigm Shift is an interesting one.
    On one side are the Pharmacy owners and the other side are the Supermarket Gorillas.
    The Guild president is looking into his crystal ball to describe the reality of Community Pharmacy post COVID in a sophisticated technology driven market.
    Like most Community Pharmacies, the supermarkets kept their doors open throughout the pandemic. Like Pharmacies, their business was able to pivot and adapt to social distancing and lockdown using technology.
    However, the Pharmacy market could quickly evolve into virtual pharmacies offering telemedicine and other online services. No one needs to leave their home. Consumers just turn on their mobile device and talk to a “Pharmacist” avatar about their minor ailment and a suitable product could be delivered to their home via a drone the same day. No need for “overpaid” pharmacists complaining about workload any more, Pharmacies now use robots dispense all the “e prescriptions” whhich are deliverd to their front door. This system operates 24/7 and doesn’t take holidays or get sick and is dominated by a few large players who spend large amounts of money advertising the superiority of their services and low prices.
    What about the consumer? They will choose the provider who best meets their needs.
    This is not a new debate, with the super pharmacies nibbling away at the low hanging fruit in the Pharmacy markets over the last decades. Their profit motivation is obvious.

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