Pharmacy U

Leaders in Pharmacy 2019: Ashesh Desai

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Ashesh Desai has been with Shoppers Drug Mart since 2001. In his current role as executive vice president of pharmacy, he oversees the pharmacy and healthcare businesses for Loblaw Companies Limited (LCL) and Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) across Canada. This includes close to 2,000 retail pharmacies in both SDM and LCL, as well as Medisystem, long-term care pharmacies, home healthcare stores and Wellwise stores.

 

by donalee Moulton

EDUCATION: University of Toronto (Pharmacy)
CURRENT ROLE: Executive Vice President Pharmacy, Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation

Ashesh Desai has been with Shoppers Drug Mart since 2001. In his current role as executive vice president of pharmacy, he oversees the pharmacy and healthcare businesses for Loblaw Companies Limited (LCL) and Shoppers Drug Mart (SDM) across Canada. This includes close to 2,000 retail pharmacies in both SDM and LCL, as well as Medisystem, long-term care pharmacies, home healthcare stores and Wellwise stores.

What qualities are needed for a successful pharmacy?

First and foremost, you need pharmacy team members who are engaging, empathetic and caring, and who put the patient first. In part, these attributes are innate, but they can be learned and cultivated. Ultimately, decisions must be based on optimal outcomes for patients.

Also, as more and more is being asked of pharmacists from a regulatory and administrative perspective, this can take time away from patients. It’s important to be aware of this and take the opportunity to leverage other tools, such as technology, to increase efficiency at the pharmacy and free up more time.

What important lessons have you learned as part of a national business?

Despite operations being at a national level, health care is absolutely local. Patients require ongoing support and care and this care is best delivered locally, by someone they know and trust. You can never lose sight of that, and pharmacists and pharmacy staff lay the foundation for local health care by getting involved in the community. Of course, we must provide tools to our pharmacy teams to help patients. It is so impactful when a pharmacist spends time and talks with a patient about the patient’s specific needs.

It is also important to connect with and work with other stakeholders, such as provincial colleges, provincial and national government bodies, and other healthcare providers.

Why is it important to take action to enhance pharmacists’ value to patients?

We know that our healthcare system is overworked, and that there is an increasingly important and expanded role pharmacists can play to alleviate that. Pharmacists are one of the most trusted professionals. As patients understand the additional value our services provide – from counselling to, in some instances, prescribing – we can do more to help them better manage their health. As a pharmacist, that is very rewarding.

How can we successfully enhance the value of what pharmacists do for patients?

In our network, we are leveraging technology to create greater capacity in the pharmacy, which ultimately frees up more time for our pharmacists to spend with their patients. For example, we have started down the path of shared services and have introduced a new process for compliance packaging. We are removing this task from the store so the pharmacy teams can spend less time in production and more on direct engagement with the patient. We are also piloting electronic medical record software that will produce better documents for the pharmacy team – documents that can be shared easily and effectively. For us, it always comes down to that one-on-one connection.

What key trends are creating opportunities for pharmacists to demonstrate their value?

Patients are becoming much more informed and involved in their own care. Pharmacists can help patients get access to and better utilize this information, and to optimize health outcome. This need for constant engagement is going to grow, especially as more of our patients face the healthcare challenges that come with aging.

The digitization of health is a phenomenon that is accelerating, and the pharmacy team can be central to this evolving process. Throughout all of this change, it is essential that the business of pharmacy supports retail pharmacists in their role and does not lose sight of the reason we are all here: supporting our patients and improving their care.

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  • Video featuring all the 6th annual Leaders in Pharmacy

 

Leaders in Pharmacy, including this independently written article, is supported by Pfizer Canada Inc.

The article appeared originally in the January 2019 issue of Pharmacy Practice + Business and Canadian Healthcare Network.