Just wanting to transform a community pharmacy into the professional services model of the future may not be enough to achieve success

This is the view of NSW pharmacist Adam Walsh who has been through the process and found that the road to success was via the Health Advice Plus program.

“I know a lot of pharmacies are thinking about joining the program and transforming their pharmacies and my advice to them is just get on with it and join the program,” Mr Walsh says.

“You can achieve your goals under the program. It’s simple to follow and use. It gives you an easy plan to follow to transform your pharmacy and staff and to maximise the low-hanging fruit – MedsChecks, DAAs, clinical interventions and so on – and then build from there.”

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia’s Health Advice Plus Program is a cost-efficient, hands-on support package that provides common sense incremental change management principles to transition pharmacy to a professional service model by people who work in and understand pharmacy. It provides a suite of resources and operational processes that are tailored to your business.

“We were a bit before our time and did not really know how to achieve what we wanted to achieve,” he says.

“There weren’t the tools around to help us but now with Health Advice Plus there are and it is great.

“The reality is that if we had been able to use Health Advice Plus five years ago we could have saved ourselves in the area of hundreds of thousands of dollars because the program is exactly what I wanted and needed to achieve the results I aimed for.

“It gives you an easy plan and target to work towards.

“It looks at how you are going now and what you can do better and then using the program’s Performance Tracker it gives you live daily, weekly and monthly data on how you are tracking overall towards that plan and your set goals.”

Mr Walsh has introduced the program into two of his NSW country pharmacies at Harden and Gundagai and says the investment he made in the program paid for itself in the first month,

“It paid for itself very quickly by simply by pointing us to how we could maximise what is offered under the Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement,” he said.

“From there we have been able to look at other areas of potential growth such as fee-for-service areas and even if these areas are already successful the program shows how they can be even more successful for the business and for customers.”

The program had helped maximise the potential of services he believed many pharmacies would not see as obvious potential growth areas.

“It has helped us with out-of-the-box things you might not think about. For instance I was always wondering how to grow the absence-from-work certificates area. It boiled down to having a conversation with customers and patients and just letting them know the service was available. They may not need it there and then but you have planted the seed for the future when they may need a certificate.”

Mr Walsh says the reaction from customers and patients had been very good.

“We have invested in another two pharmacists on the floor at least half the time which is not bad for two small towns in NSW. This means our customers always have access to a pharmacist and also they have the chance to have one-on-one time with a pharmacist.

“Our customers have really embraced this and are very receptive to the new model.”

Mr Walsh encourages any pharmacy wanting to grow to join the program.

“I can’t think of any area of the program that I would give a warning about to prospective pharmacies about to do the program. It’s a very good program and really well thought out.

“It’s important to realise that the program is not going to do the work for you. You still have to do the work but Health Advice Plus gives you the framework to achieve the results.

“It’s very efficient and having the three different levels – bronze, silver and gold – means that it caters for all pharmacies and all their individual needs and aims.”

Mr Walsh says because of the groundwork he had done over the years he introduced the bronze package of Health Advice Plus at the pharmacies as this was perfectly suited to his need.

He has been using the program now for 12 months and was at the stage of getting the message out about what the pharmacies now offer.

“We are telling our customers what we do and how we are now a different type of pharmacy. And the program facilitates all that – we have the marketing collateral, the promotional material and the training to have the conversations with our customers.

“And of course part of the transformation is getting pharmacists to change and engage in these conversations and letting customers know what we can do and the services we provide.”