Package of care not just pills – Pharmacy life-savers

A package of care can take many guises, from doing the shopping for an elderly neighbour to that offered by doctors and nurses for those hospitalised by covid-19.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a shift in behaviours that have changed the world as we knew it, possibly forever.

Over the months, protecting the NHS has been our prime consideration to ensure that as many lives are saved as possible. As life and liberty changed, even big business saw failures, with many more “zombie businesses” teetering on the edge of insolvency. Online businesses and supermarkets seem to have benefitted from the pandemic in both custom and profits.

Path choice after copid-19 - pharmacy must offer packets of care

Pharmacy, although seeing a dramatic rise in workload, and one of the few businesses remaining reasonably accessible throughout the pandemic, offers a contrary tale.

Many community pharmacies are struggling.

Pharmacy business is not immune from market forces.

In this thought-provoking interview between Michael Holden, FRPharmS, FRSPH (associate director of Pharmacy Complete in UK) and Alana Hippensteele (Pharmacy Times USA) we hear globally, pharmacy needs to value itself in order to thrive, even survive.

Pharmacy Times Michael Holden Interview – Pharmacy Globally Must Value Itself for Providing ‘Not Just a Packet of Pills, But a Package of Care’

Essentially, the future of pharmacy is in their own hands if they wish to take it.

Incorrectly and worryingly, pharmacies...

“have an expectation that we are provided for, and actually no, the market now is whatever it is. When you see other businesses in the world collapse from being significant because of the pandemic or because of the change in consumer behaviour and expectations—they (patients) expect more, they expect better, they expect it faster, they expect it digitally, and we have to move into that arena, and nobody's going to do it for us—we have to do it ourselves, either collectively, but certainly individually—transformation and innovation starts at the bottom and doesn't start at the top.”

Pharmacy’s historical over-reliance on the NHS for its healthcare role and remuneration has allowed the profession to be at the mercy of both governments and NHS. The profession is financially struggling under the current model as highlighted in the Chemist & Druggist's 2020 article titled:

"72% of English pharmacies will be in deficit by 2024, report predicts"

You would expect the 2021 NHS Pharmacy Quality Scheme (PQS) (with a a minimum of £56.25m funding behind it) and a recognition of the close link between obesity and Covid-19 severity would have birthed a comprehensive package of care through effective pharmacy led weight management services. Pharmacy was after all one of the only healthcare professionals to maintain their availability and accessibility (with some alterations to mitigate the issues surrounding covid-19) throughout these difficult times.

But alas, a short 4 week pharmacy-based survey (a PQS requirement) and a derided GP weight management service rolled out recently shows the battle against obesity is far from being won.

It would not be a surprise to learn that you have not heard of pharmacy’s existing non-NHS weight management initiatives, despite the evidence of their success. Primarily pharmacy looks to the NHS for service provision but invariably weight management is not being taken seriously enough. The NHS still perpetuates the futile notion that everyone can “just eat less and exercise more”.

Pharmacy holds the key to its own success


The following excerpts and ideas gained from this perceptive interview can pave the way to a more stable pharmacy profession and a healthier general public, even in the face of NHS underfunding:

Key to diet success - Can you just eat less and exercise your way thinner?

We cannot afford to be shy. Obesity is a killer.

We need to ensure..

“the patients understand what they can get from a pharmacy. It's not just a packet of pills, it's a package of care.”

Pharmacy cannot wait for the patient to ask for fundamental lifestyle advice, no more than the GP. Simply reacting to a question belies the clinical knowledge and expertise of the pharmacist. Tackling obesity, smoking and alcohol are three basic foundations of healthcare. Without robust and effective solutions there will be scant favourable outcomes.

Those packets of pills, which will forever require dispensing, will be for hypertension or type 2 diabetes, even cancer or infertility. These, and over 200 other diseases, are linked to excess weight. These require a package of care. Pharmacists need to use this as an opportunity both clinically and financially or face losing their future altogether.

Pharmacy must market itself effectively

Pharmacy should indeed carry on supplying and advising on the “packet of pills” whilst actively promoting their ability to make a tangible difference to each individual’s health, especially through the adoption of more relevant private pharmacy services.

Promotion is key.

“There's a confidence, a trust in the capability, and the biggest thing there is the patient experience. If the patient experience is good, they'll come back. It's like going to a good restaurant - you get good food, you get great service, and you get great ambience. So, if you get that same parallel in a pharmacy, with great clinical care, great experience, great premises, that shows professionalism. Consultation rooms, which are equipped appropriately, and great IT systems (also shows professionalism). Promoting what we do - that's one of the things we're really bad at, and I think that's a national thing, or an international thing. I don't think it's just UK. But in UK, we're particularly bad at it.”

Some pharmacies still do not have a website. Those that do often have purely static information, many years behind the current digital world. Social media presence is often just as bland, where it exists at all.

Pharmacy must improve on and better utilise its premises

Maintaining footfall is critical for opportunistic marketing of the pharmacist's skills and services...

"We don't want to lose the medicines because that gives us the footfall and the safety and everything else that goes with that, but we have to change that. It's like converting the pyramid and getting us to a mindset where we are a provider of services, health care services, whether they be private or NHS"

Utilising the consultation room effectively and/or technology such as video calls, bringing in suitably trained staff and above all offering additional privately remunerated professional support will make pharmacy a winner.

Pharmacy must stop accepting work for free

"So, we need to be saying we're not doing it for free. We need to be saying we're doing it as a charge, and if we don't get a payment for it, we may not do it or won't do it. So, there's a little bit of cultural shift there as well as balancing professional and business, which is always a challenge for everybody."

Package of Care

When all this is in place, pharmacy can be the go-to healthcare professional, triaging to GPs, clinics and hospitals where necessary. Pharmacies unique availability and accessibility also offers the chance to prevent, even banish the ”severity of issue”, through in-house targeted and effective weight management and lifestyle support.

At this time of financial uncertainty, private services such as a targeted and effective private weight management service could also save pharmacy from extinction in the years to come.

Howard Foundation Research, offering pharmacies a full package of weight management options through the safe and effective Lipotrim Programme, is just one of many private pharmacy service providers.

The opportunity for pharmacy to be in control of its own destiny makes this worth your consideration today.

As the saying goes, "tomorrow never comes".

For more information please contact us.

+44 (0) 1223 812 812

tomorrow never comes - The opportunity for pharmacy using packages of care is now
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3 thoughts on “Package of care not just pills – Pharmacy life-savers

  1. I am an individual is receiving a wonderful journey and experience losing weight with support of a wonderful pharmacist, who provides excellent weekly support and keeps me motivated for continuing on with this product. In fact, I do not see it as a diet, I see it as away of detoxing your body and getting your body balanced. This product is fantastic.

    1. Thank you Amanda for these wonderful words. We are pleased your pharmacy is supporting you so well and that you are succeeding with your weight loss.

    2. Please relay this to your pharmacy who would love to hear this (we can do so on your behalf if you let us know which pharmacy you attend). If possible, leaving a review on their NHS page would help them a great deal.

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