Pharmacy U

Leaders in Pharmacy 2019: Mark Dickson

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Mark Dickson has held a number of senior leadership positions in pharmacy, most recently as the CEO of Peoples Drug Mart BC. His primary task while there was ensuring a fiscally responsible wrap-up of operations. “The economic environment has changed, and the organization realized a new model was needed for its members,” says Dickson. “On the one hand it was a difficult time, but on the other hand it was a transformative period of change. The member pharmacies transitioned to new banners and now benefit from scale economies, and are better able to meet the needs of their customers.”

 

by donalee Moulton

 

EDUCATION: University of British Columbia (Pharmaceutical Sciences), Simon Fraser University (MBA)
CURRENT ROLE: Pharmacist executive

Mark Dickson has held a number of senior leadership positions in pharmacy, most recently as the CEO of Peoples Drug Mart BC. His primary task while there was ensuring a fiscally responsible wrap-up of operations. “The economic environment has changed, and the organization realized a new model was needed for its members,” says Dickson. “On the one hand it was a difficult time, but on the other hand it was a transformative period of change. The member pharmacies transitioned to new banners and now benefit from scale economies, and are better able to meet the needs of their customers.”

What is most important to you as a leader in pharmacy?

The profession needs to be responsible for drug optimization. Our legacy must be a renewed sense that we are the drug experts, responsible for making sure patients have the best drug therapy for them. That may include having no drugs at all. Indeed, the movement around de-prescribing is an important step forward for the profession.

What are your tips for pharmacists looking to take action to provide the best quality of service to their patients?

We need to get the basics right. We need to stress listening to patients, to really hear what they are saying and trying to say. Then we can do one small thing differently each day that will help us reflect on our pharmacy and our practice. The successful pharmacies are the ones that do this. As pharmacists, it can be in our nature to get stuck in minutiae, but we have to look at the big picture. We did this, for example, with the layout of pharmacies. Now they are designed to promote confidentiality and parity.

How critical is it for pharmacists to enhance the value they bring to patients, to help reshape the pharmacy profession?

This is essential. Technology is replacing our traditional role as drug dispensers. The value of the pharmacist is measured in improved outcomes and in financial savings to the patient and the system. Our value also lies in how we contribute to the total healthcare team.

How do you promote a patient-centred philosophy, and ensure this is the focus for the pharmacy team?

Increasingly the value of pharmacies and pharmacists is translating our convenient access into a triage point for accessing the rest of the healthcare team. It comes down to professionalism. At the end of the day, if pharmacists want to continue to be one of the most trusted professionals, we have to put the patient above the drugs and above the economics of the business.

What holds the most value for patients? What actions make a pharmacist or pharmacy stand out in patients’ minds?

Access is an obvious answer, but the reality is more complex. It’s about the business of pace, and enabling patients to access information and care at the rate they want. When they get an initial chronic diagnosis, for example, providing information is not a one-time conversation. It’s about follow-up.

As well, drug regimens are getting more complex. Pharmacists do a lot for patients behind the counter, but we fail to spell that out. Don’t tell patients the delay they experienced was because you had to call the doctor. Explain why – for example, you were concerned two of the medications wouldn’t work well together. Right now we have a subservient relationship with doctors, and that needs to mature. The more we take responsibility, the more equal the footing.

Click here for a video of the 2019 Leaders in Pharmacy:

  • Video featuring all the 6th annual Leaders in Pharmacy

 

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

 

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