John Shaske has 37 years of experience expanding the boundaries of pharmaceutical care to improve health outcomes by resolving drug therapy problems.
He has won Innovator of the Year awards from BCPhA and CPhA, and was honoured with the first Agent of Change award in 2016 from the Faculty of Pharmacy at UBC.
Photo by Brandon Gray
Education: University of British Columbia (Bachelor of Science, Pharmacy)
Hospital Residency University of British Columbia/Vancouver General Hospital
Current role: President, Ascent Health Care Consultants, Gibsons, B.C.
Did you choose pharmacy as a profession or did it choose you?
Coincidences led me to pharmacy, but I always knew I wanted a career that would enable me to help people. That resonated with me. I knew I had made the right choice during residency. That’s where I learned the fundamentals of operating a pharmacy to attain optimal outcomes.
At its heart, what is the role of the pharmacist today?
Pharmacists resolve drug-therapy problems. It’s a very focused – and extremely important – role. If you can put your expertise and energy toward looking after people, you get the best results for them.
What does customer loyalty mean to you? How do you build customer loyalty?
Customer loyalty means your pharmacy is the go-to choice for your patient’s pharmaceutical advice and practical needs. To achieve that, you have to have the infrastructure and most importantly the processes in place to meet the customer’s requirements. You also need to know the demographics of your patients – you need to know them as people. What are the realities of their lives? Help solve the problems that relate to that reality and they will be happy. Another critical element is using your expertise to help patients. You need to understand the evidence-based benefits of the drugs and supplements your patients are taking. For example, there is no evidence that fish oil actually does anything to enhance outcomes. Why would you recommend the product especially if the doctor has just said it is useless? If patients realize you have their personal health as your top priority, then you’ve won the loyalty battle.
What are the critical components in building and sustaining customer loyalty?
Trust is essential, and it doesn’t just happen. You need to discuss medication risks and benefits for each prescription. As well, you need to respect the person’s wishes. Building trust is founded on a strong and ongoing consultation with patients. It’s vital to develop a relationship with the person. For that, you need to be honest – and you need to recognize that sales are not the driver.
You have to spend time with your patients, and you must be a healthcare professional. You need to focus on supporting the person, their wishes and health care goals.
Is customer loyalty becoming more important in this complex and changing landscape?
Customer loyalty is more important than ever. As you build trust, you can focus on outcomes and you are better able to help patients. Pharmacists need to step up to the plate. For example, if offering flu shots benefits patients and opens the door to important discussions, we need to offer this service. As well, at a minimum providing medical management is important. In consultations, everyone has healthcare goals they would like to achieve, and pharmacists if they have the courage can be part of that process.