Pharmacists cement frontline position in healthcare

Key highlights from the first webinar in our series, where an international panel of experts discussed the future of community pharmacy, a sector that is experiencing rapid change.

On 27 July 2021, Blooms The Chemist kicked off the first in a series of webinars looking at the future of community pharmacy in Australia with a vision toward 2030. Transformational Business Strategies for a Sustainable Future saw a panel of esteemed guests shared key insights on how pharmacists can play a vital role in community health, build a thriving business and stay ahead of emerging trends.

Here’s a recap of some of the highlights:

Community pharmacy on the frontline

Former Pharmacist Emma McBride MP (Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health & Carers, and Federal Member for Dobell) emphasised the value of Pharmacists performing at the top end of their scope of practice. Pharmacists are ‘trained, prepared and ready’ to support the community and should be an integral part of any environment where medicines are dispensed. Integration into residential aged care facilities, providing mental health first aid and offering point of care testing provide opportunities to utilise the expertise of highly trained community pharmacists.

“Pharmacists are increasingly working to the top end of our scope of practice. We are using our skills, training, and expertise, working together with GPs, nurses, and other allied health professionals to improve patient care and lift health outcomes.”- Emma McBride MP

Dr. Kerryn Phelps AM (one of Australia’s best-known doctors and public health advocates, and past president of Australian Medical Association) discussed how GPs value the role of community Pharmacists, and that three-way communication between the patient, GP, and Pharmacist is essential for patient care. Dr. Phelps also reflected on opportunities for role expansion and education around mental health first aid, herbal medicine and supplements and herb-drug interactions. Working collaboratively and building good relationships with local GPs will help community Pharmacists design services around the needs of their local area.

“If GPs and Pharmacists made time to sit down and talk about what particular scope of practice the Pharmacist would like to offer, you might find that their services such as point of care testing, follow up testing and wound care… that would be very helpful to a general practitioner in an area where resources are scarce.” Dr. Kerryn Phelps AM

The role of pharmacy in society is changing at home and abroad. According to Steve Howard (UK Clinical Standards Director and Superintendent Pharmacist, Lloyds Community Pharmacy), COVID highlighted that pharmacies are an integral part of the social fabric of communities. Pharmacies can play a vital role in helping people live healthier lives and prevent more serious, costly health interventions and help generate capacity for general practice, which is a major challenge in the United Kingdom.

“My call is for the profession to focus its efforts on patient outcomes, on shared care planning, and to ensure its input is integral to mainstream health provision. Our pharmacies can do much more than they’re currently doing. So, the opportunity is there. With the eye on 2030, I think, if not now, when?”- Steve Howard

In the United States, Pharmacists are ranked as one of the most honest and ethical sources of healthcare information, providing healthcare hubs in the community. However, even though big players dominate the market — and Amazon now has an offering — their growth has flattened. Dr. Ron Hess (Associate Professor of Marketing, Mason School of Business, College of William & Mary USA, and Consulting Advisor to Blooms The Chemist) explains:

“We are currently seeing about a 13% growth in the emergence of independent Pharmacists in the United States, versus somewhat flat growth for the major chains in the market. Independents are known for being an alternative, naturalistic remedy for longer-term care. They can do functional testing, consultations and are expert educational resources,” Dr. Ron Hess

Pharmacy and digital innovation

Digital technology will continue to influence all aspects of pharmacy from operations, marketing, and patient support. According to Pamela Bishop (CMO, Blooms The Chemist) today’s customer wants more convenience, more choice, more purchasing options and better service. For pharmacies wishing to build brand loyalty and market share, delivering personalised service in an omnichannel world will be part of the future.

While technology will continue to play a role in pharmacy, delegates acknowledged that patients still want to see their community pharmacist. People will always need to be front and centre of the pharmacy.

“[Pharmacies] can keep up with the advances in automation, automated dose administration aids, automated dispensing and everything that artificial intelligence can bring, but the true heart of pharmacy is the people, so that’s what we want.”- Emmanuel Vavoulas (Head of Retail and CEO-elect, Blooms The Chemist)

Purpose, people and the planet

Pamela Bishop shared insights on how customers expect brands to balance profit with purpose and give back to the community. Customers expect more from businesses, and corporate social responsibility or being a good corporate citizen will continue to be an important trend in the future.

“It is our responsibility to be considerate of both the health of our people and our planet, to be sustainable in all we do, and to make a commitment to things that are really important to our customers.” – Pamela Bishop

Pharmacy 2030 – A community driven vision

In envisioning Pharmacy 2030 and the future role of community pharmacy, Emmanuel Vavoulas discussed the importance of listening to the community. Listening to consumers, patients and visitors to the store has seen Blooms The Chemist focus more on community health, providing professional services around medications, natural health and community care.

“The results speak for themselves, and we’re seeing strong growth. That shows us that communities are responding. We are showing our most growth in areas community pharmacy is traditionally known for, such as general medicine. So, we’ll continue with our strategy because this is what our communities have told us they want.” – Emmanuel Vavoulas

The role of pharmacy in society since the pandemic has forever changed and will continue to change in the coming years as we navigate immense periods of change and innovation.  Pharmacy 2030 is about empowering community pharmacies to continue to grow health care services to meet the ever evolving needs of patients, the community and the planet.

If you are interested in partnership prospects at Blooms The Chemist, request a callback here. You can also visit the bottom of the Contact Us page to sign up to our mailing list, to stay informed on our next session. 

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