Pharmacy U

Denis Roy – Bringing relationships to the forefront


“As a pharmacist working directly with the public, my children understood what I did for a living. Now they are trying to figure it out,” says Denis Roy with a laugh.

As Senior Director of Professional Affairs with Pharmaprix, Denis is responsible for regulatory affairs, stakeholder management, and pharmacy “transformation”. He provides advice and oversees professional activities internally and deals with issues management and government relations externally.


Photo by Brandon Gray




Education:  Université de Montréal (Bachelor of Pharmacy)


Current role: Senior Director, Professional Affairs, Pharmaprix/Shoppers Drug Mart, Montréal

There are so many options for young people in pharmacy today. What would you say to the graduating class of 2017 about the opportunities that lie ahead?


The profession of pharmacy expresses its value in the relationships it establishes. There is an opportunity to bring those relationships to the fore and address chronic disease and other needs. It’s about being patient-focused.


How has your role evolved since you first started in the field?


Technology is the biggest change I have had to manage. It’s a great tool when used appropriately by the right people, and pharmacists must become masters at using technology to serve patients. It’s an enabler and should be used to build and make relationships stronger in a very personal way. While the Internet is a jungle, it’s no different from what happens in the streets of Canadian cities. We can’t dismiss reality.


What do you anticipate will be the biggest changes in pharmacy in the next decade?


I believe pharmacogenomics represents a great opportunity. We are getting close to personalized medicine and determination of patient phenotypes by pharmacists to determine patient drug response before dispensing to ensure we pick the best treatment available.


The other change I see is more of an evolution of what has happened in Alberta. The pharmacy and the expertise of pharmacists will be used more and more to triage patients with the objective of determining if they should see a doctor immediately, later, or simply use medication prescribed by the pharmacist. Not every symptom requires a diagnostic investigation, and pharmacy triage is part of the solution to save our healthcare system.


How do you see the pharmacist creating customer loyalty in the future?


Pharmacists and pharmacy teams will successfully build loyalty by transforming themselves into health coaches. Technology will allow us to have multiple touchpoints with patients, but the human experience will be the biggest factor in determining our success.


What do you think pharmacists should do to develop more effective adherence?


Relationships always come first. Listening with empathy and recognizing emotions as well as efforts made by patients are all required to connect and build trust. This is the only way to change false health beliefs that get in the way of positive outcomes. Pharmacists need to use patient-empowerment techniques through coaching and bio-feedback instead of telling patients what to do. More influence with discreet monitoring and less overt direction is required.


A pat on the back is also quite powerful, and provinces that do not allow pharmacists to provide incentives for patients that move the needle of their treatment targets should reconsider their position to help their own chronic disease problem. We can help here by advocating for change. Governments that stifle innovation in the pharmacy setting should be encouraged to revisit their policies.