Inside This Issue - News
Canadian pharmacies grapple with big transition
December 17th, 2012
by Alasdair McKichan
TORONTO – The recent legislative and policy changes empowering Canadian pharmacists to offer new patient services and interventions represent challenge as well as opportunity for community pharmacy, said Justin Bates, vice president of Pharmacy Affairs for the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores (CACDS).
Other industries have successfully met that challenge of adding a substantial services component to their core business and have profited from it. Bates, speaking at the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy Forum held here on October 31, cited the examples in manufacturing of General Electric and Caterpillar, and in technology of IBM, Dell and Intel.
The success of a pharmacy’s transition to the new operating environment depends on such factors as economic potential of the new services; downward pressure on dispensing services; greater patient demand for access to services; scope of pharmacy’s current competencies; need to define and deploy a successful service strategy; need to embrace and support practice change; and implementation of supporting infrastructure and technology.
Bates reminded his audience that IT is an enabler, not the entire solution and that understanding the role of employees in the new business model is critical.
Employers should be prepared to revamp their recruiting and training; refine and clearly define roles for all staff in a service position; link compensation to performance; deploy technology that supports frontline workers; and recognize that management leadership is essential and capabilities are different.
Dispensing is transaction based, and health services are relationship based. The business model will require new structures and processes to ensure efficiency, quality and delivery time. Staff capabilities will be extended well beyond their clinical competencies. Staff incentives should be structured so that they are consistent with health care professional status. Metrics and standards should be designed so that they relate to success or failure in meeting the new goals.
Bates cited Kimberly-Clark as an example of an organization that transitioned from a paper-based customer relationship process to an electronic process. He suggested that the company’s challenges were very similar to those faced by a pharmacy adopting the MirixaPro system that was recently available in Canada and adapted to Canadian conditions.
The barriers to a successful transition include cost, time and potential lack of organization commitment to a defined vision. Successful implementation relies heavily on the organization strategically aligning itself with the technology — it is not just the technology itself that is important.
Bates cited the diverse advantages that utilizing the MirixaPro system offers. Its application helps identify service opportunities from the dispensing database; supports service quality via consistent processes; provides professional quality patient material available at time of service delivery; and identifies care gaps to prompt pharmacist interventions. Its built-in communication vehicles support interprofessional collaborations. It generates data to evaluate business metrics and results related to targets and constitutes a tangible vehicle around which employee change can be developed.
Electronic documentation creates an enhanced customer experience. It supports optimal clinical decision support and facilitates greater inter-professional collaboration. At the same time, it increases customer loyalty and retention, and ensures more consistent quality output.
However, Bates noted, resistance to practice change is a reality. The speed of filling prescriptions and prescription volumes are still critical factors in a successful pharmacy. Realistically, pharmacy services are a secondary or even a tertiary priority within the dispensary.