Australians have “very, very, very low awareness” of professional services available in pharmacy, says Queensland Guild president Trent Twomey
Speaking at the Medici Capital Pharmacy Ownership Ready Conference on the Gold Coast, Mr Twomey gave an overview of the pharmacy landscape and said that when pharmacies talk about or advertise MedsChecks or staged supply, the patient reaction is, “What does that mean?”
“No one knows what the hell that is,” he said. “We need to find a better communication strategy than putting up a sign.
“No one knows what we mean when we use our own internal nomenclature.”
He said that professional programs are “sexy, they’re nice to do, but you can’t run a business on professional programs”.
He said that CP2025 research has to date had some interesting findings, including that while 57% of patients had used a discount pharmacy in the past 12 months, 51% used one pharmacy for all their needs.
Change in the sector will be driven by the consumer whether pharmacists like it or not, he told the conference.
Mr Twomey also took a swing at the unpopular $1 copayment discount, which had been announced by former Health Minister Sussan Ley.
“We hate it,” he said. “We think it’s an absolute assault and attack on universal health care.”
He said that a patient’s postcode should not influence their ability to afford their medicines.
“Some consumers are more equal than others now, depending on their postcode.”
Mr Twomey told pharmacists not to be afraid of moving into regional areas in order to go into pharmacy ownership or, in the shorter term, to seek better pay.
He said the Pharmacy Guild gets a lot of criticism in regard to the reduction over time of wages for pharmacists, but “there is no difference between community pharmacy and any other profession that might be in or out of health” in that wages are higher where there’s more demand, typically in rural and regional areas.
With more pharmacists registered in Australia than ever before, lower wages are a function of normal economic forces, he said.
“Unfortunately people just don’t want to relocate to regional areas.”
He told delegates how he and wife Georgina, who is also a pharmacist, “went where the opportunities were,” first to Newcastle to work for former Guild president John Bronger, and then back to Far North Queensland for an ownership opportunity.
Another decision which worked out well was to go into business with a partner.
“We really enjoy having business partners,” he said.
“There’s a lot of naysayers and negativity at the moment, but there’s never been a more exciting time to be a pharmacy owner.
“Wherever there’s risk there’s reward.”