Pharmacy U

Brainstorming with the Leaders in Pharmacy to promote innovation

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How can pharmacists innovate the patient experience so the pharmacy becomes the patient care hub?


by Jane Auster

Photo by Brandon Gray


That provocative question formed the basis for a forum for exchange on the evolving role of pharmacy in health and wellness, sponsored by Pfizer Canada Inc. and Stagnito Business Information, publisher of Pharmacy Business and producer of Pharmacy U.


Who better to tackle the question of pharmacy innovation than the profiled “Leaders in Pharmacy”? Twenty individuals, representing three years of pharmacy leaders, gathered in one room in April for a combined Leadership Forum with the specific task of creating a never-done-before “how-to” guide for pharmacists to introduce a new patient care service – useful innovation that will result in lasting changes in their practices. The how-to guide is published as a supplement to Pharmacy Business and Pharmacien et Entrepreneur magazines and included with this issue.


It is also an introduction to a new Innovation Hub at, where you will find profiles and videos of pharmacists who have introduced innovative services as well as ideas and tools to download and adapt for your own practice.


“We started the Leaders in Pharmacy program a few years ago to demonstrate our dedication to pharmacy, to bring together leaders who have contributed to the profession of pharmacy,” said Gordon Cooper, Pfizer Canada’s Director Commercial Channels. “At Pfizer we want to support pharmacists on their innovative journey to improve patient care. The idea for this forum emerged right after our last event in November, to bring everyone back together in April. The structure really came from the leaders themselves.”



Encouraging innovation


Rita Winn, General Manager and COO of Lovell Drugs Limited, and a Leader in Pharmacy, is one of the architects of the how-to guide. “When we were talking about innovation and how you innovate, we realized that sometimes you get lost in the ideas. At the store level, how is a pharmacist actually going to go about introducing innovation?” she said. “I thought it would be a good idea to have a ‘roadmap’, with a starting point and ending point, where you can look at the steps you have to take along the way. As a pharmacist you might not have the resources, and you might find the thought of innovation overwhelming, so we wanted to create a simple how-to guide that anyone could take into any pharmacy setting and make it work.”


Innovation, the Leaders stressed, does not necessarily mean a complete pharmacy revolution, but can be an intelligent evolution of pharmacy services. “You can visit your pharmacy practice to see how you optimize your services to deliver patient care,” said pharmacist-consultant and featured Leader Iris Krawchenko. “Maybe a few tweaks in how you are doing it right now can be an innovative step in how you can improve patient care and patient outcomes.”


The need for innovation comes at a pivotal time in the profession of pharmacy, when expanded scope is opening up more avenues for pharmacists and patients to interact. A how-to guide, with the support of an Innovation Hub at, promises to help community pharmacists enhance their practices and offer even better patient care.


Here’s what other Leaders had to say:

Jeff May, Executive Vice President and General Manager at Remedy Holdings Inc.:

“The consumer wants to speak through digital, they want to speak through Facetime, while we typically think of interaction as ‘you have to come to my counter. Innovation opens up the door to deliver services and programs through different modalities and not just coming to my pharmacy counter.”


Marshall Moleschi, ‎CEO and Registrar at Ontario College of Pharmacists: “I hope this guide will achieve a better understanding for a pharmacist on the front line to how they can do a better job and a big difference to patients and patient outcomes, so when pharmacists do a better job, they will do a better job for their patients.”


Dean Miller, Whole Health Pharmacy Partners, President & CEO – ‎Whole Health Pharmacy Partners Inc.: “I think a how-to guide is very important for pharmacists because a guide like this will certainly help every pharmacist-owner as they talk to their own pharmacy staff on how to implement things differently than they have in the past. So it’s incumbent on our group today to build a model that’s both strategically sound and also operationally well thought-out and easy to apply.”


“Innovation has been led by outsiders like public payers. The pharmacist needs to drive the agenda.”


Jean Thiffault, ‎Président A.Q.P.P. (Association Québécoise des Pharmaciens Propriétaires) and owner of two Jean Coutu pharmacies: “Innovation does not necessarily mean new services. We can focus on what we are doing now, but with the new patient mindset we are reinventing the relationship. There is innovation in the way the whole system now involves the pharmacist. From the patient’s point of view, the pharmacist is always there.”


Tracey Phillips, pharmacist-owner, Westport Village Pharmacy: “Every pharmacist must have one good idea and go away and do something new. You have to move out of your comfort zone and keep the needs of the patient in mind.”


Jody Shkrobot, ‎Clinical Assistant Professor at University of Alberta – Faculty of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences: “With the changes in pharmacy, we are becoming more patient-centric. Pharmacists will have more ownership of patient care. We can learn from other practitioners who have introduced change and who are looking at innovative ways to provide care. We need more innovation, but we also need to measure outcomes.”


Zubin Austin, Professor, University of Toronto, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy: “One of the hardest challenges with pharmacists is that they tend to be well-intentioned perfectionists who think if they work hard enough there has to be a right answer, whereas the real world is much messier. But if we (pharmacists) can move the goal post even five yards, we’ve been successful.”