Delegates pulled out the butcher’s paper for a session on the future of pharmacy and answered the hypothetical question of what will pharmacy technology look like in the future. Many came up with creative suggestions, with one delegate imagining a device you put your arm in a socket to get vaccinated!

Robert Sztar editor of Transpharmation magazine shared his thoughts on what kinds technologies will exist in pharmacies in the near future, including virtual shelves that clean themselves and 3D printers that can print drugs. “3D printers should be in all pharmacies in Australia,” he told the audience.

Fellow panellist Linda Miller from Pharmacy Profit Secrets talked about the importance of change management being key when introducing game changing technologies. Getting staff involved early, empowering them and asking for ideas is key. Lachlan Ballinger from BMA Advisory took the audience through investing in technology and the common themes and pitfalls. Pharmacist and partner in the Nexus Pharmacy group Matt Boulter said investing in automative tech is a no brainer. Matt said having the foresight to see that the industry was heading towards using this technology was key.

Getting a job description right is essential – Susan Muller of LocumCo says if you don’t know yourself what your pharmacy can offer, you can’t find the right person to fill the gap. Think about the type of person your pharmacy needs and spell out what the vision of your pharmacy is. Be clear on what your expectations are on the new staff member and complete a formal induction. New employees are not mind readers.

Leading from behind – show the staff exactly what is expected of them, arrange in the beginning time to give feedback, encourage a new person to participate in team activities in the workplace and community, and the important thing to remember is once you have given responsibility to a new staff member, let go and let them take charge of the role in their own way.

The 6CPA is a fantastic opportunity to nurture your community and provide services. 2014 Pharmacy of the Year winner Samantha Kourtis and Matthew Taylor of MSI Taylor presented an engaging session on making your professional services a profitable business. One message was clear in the session – pharmacies need to stop devaluing services they offer in the language they use. Samantha made it clear “please stop saying medschecks are free, stop using the word free for government funded services. It will be harder to convince our patients to pay for services if we keep promoting they are free.”

Matthew and Samantha were adamant how the value of services is achieved – value is not just in the consumable and staff costs, it’s the confidence your customers get from your services and every part of the customer experience adds value and is important. Sometimes you can try something and it doesn’t work – the smartest thing you can do is stop, evaluate it, adapt and relaunch. When it comes to professional services, if you don’t have somebody who is passionate about it or owns it, it isn’t going to work. “If the value in the service you are offering is $5, then charge $5”, Samantha said. “Don’t promote discounting of your services because it is devaluing our profession”.

For one of the final sessions of the day, Managing Director of Instigo Andrew Pattinson showed how disruptive business models like Uber and Airbnb are connecting with customers on a whole different level. Andrew made the case that driving customer engagement and making connections is key for pharmacy business success.

Before pharmacy owners jump into innovating their business they need to identify their objectives. Andrew gave examples of successful businesses who implemented a few changes through a number of models that transformed the business for the better. He also showed how retailers are now doing a much better job of engaging customers through loyalty programs than they did 10 years ago.

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