Pharmacy U

Pharmacy U celebrates a series of firsts


by Jane Auster



It was a series of firsts for Pharmacy U’s Leading Change Together event, held on March 27, 29 and 30, 2021:


  • First national conference.
  • First-ever virtual Pharmacy U.
  • First three-day
  • First Pharmacy U National Awards.
  • First Pharmacy U to attract 800+ attendees from across Canada and as far away as India.
  • First Pharmacy U to feature Canada’s top academics on how they’re preparing the next wave of young pharmacists.


Out of the upheaval of the pandemic came something positive, uplifting and inspiring, with lessons learned that are bound to help pharmacists and pharmacy owners as they “flip the pharmacy.”


As Pharmacy U Brand Director Martin Rissin said in his opening remarks, “it was more than 10 years ago that the idea of Pharmacy U was conceived. Back then, we believed that pharmacists were poised to deliver value to patients in a DIFFERENT way…that pharmacy could and SHOULD think and operate differently. Fast forward to 2021, and I think we can all agree it is truer today than it has EVER been before.”


Flip the pharmacy


This year’s Pharmacy U keynote speaker is certainly no stranger to rethinking the pharmacy model and building a network of pharmacies that offer value to both patients and payors.


Joe Moose, clinical pharmacist and co-owner of Moose Pharmacy and its seven locations in North Carolina, has become an advocate for building patient care-focused pharmacies that also lower the total cost of care. As the Lead Community Pharmacy Coordinator for Community Care of North Carolina, he has built a network of over 250 high-quality community pharmacies offering enhanced value to payors. He is also the Director of Strategy and Luminary Development for CPESN USA (Community Pharmacy Enhanced Networks) and has built a 47-state, 2,500+ pharmacy network of enhanced service pharmacies across the United States.


His main takeaway? “You really are an investment, not a cost centre,” he told Pharmacy U, calling CPESN America’s first accountable pharmacy group. “What do we do that’s different?”


  • Leverage patient access to improve medication management.
  • Leverage care team collaboration to improve medication management.
  • Leverage required enhanced services to improve mediation management.


So, how do pharmacy owners and pharmacists flip the pharmacy? It’s all about transforming pharmacy practice, workflow, and pharmacies themselves. “It’s not just taking care of the patient when they walk in the pharmacy,” he said. “It’s a total experience and a move from the left of the slide to the right of the slide, and beyond filling and billing to true patient care.”


One “cookbook” won’t work for all pharmacies, he added. CPESN relies on a coaching model to help transform pharmacy practice. There are six domains of pharmacy practice transformation, he told the virtual audience:


  • Leverage the appointment-based model.
  • Improve patient follow-up and monitoring.
  • Develop new roles for non-pharmacy support staff.
  • Optimize the utilization of technology.
  • Establish relationships with other care team members.
  • Develop a new business model and value.


Patient care plans that help both patients and payors can be applied across a wide variety of conditions and needs, including areas of great pharmacist interest like opioids and hypertension. Over one million care plans had been submitted by CPESN pharmacies as part of the Flip the Pharmacy initiative by October, 2020.


In Canada, where a model like CPESN is a goal but not yet a reality, what can a pharmacist owner do to kickstart change? Moose recommended picking a condition – such as opioid addiction. “Document your interventions, document when you do not refill an opioid prescription. Gather this type of information and show it to your payors.”


As to how much CPESN pharmacies are being reimbursed for care plans, Moose said they are reimbursed based on time spent, so the rates differ, for instance, for a diabetes plan versus a hypertension plan. In the end, said Moose, it took very little time for patients to warm to the concept of spending more time with pharmacists, and for pharmacists and owners to reap the benefits.


Introducing the innovators


Pharmacy U featured a powerful group of innovator pharmacists with unique pharmacy concepts making a difference in patients’ lives. Read more about Rachelle Rocha of Seasons Pharmacy and Culinaria, Andrew Schonbe of The PrEP Clinic, and Kristen Watt of Kristen’s Pharmacy at


For the first time, Pharmacy U celebrated the achievements of four stellar pharmacists, in the categories of Business Innovation, Innovation in Patient Care, Community Focus, and Change Agent: Samier Kamar of High Street Pharmacy in Peterborough, ON – Business Innovation; Gail Halko of Spirit Rx Services in Manitoba – Community Focus; Jason Wentzell and Meghan Hayes of Extend Pharmacy in Ottawa – Innovation in Patient Care; and Kevin Kratiuk, KJK Pharmacy in Mississauga, ON – Change Agent. You’ll be able to read all about them in the May issue of Pharmacy Practice + Business.


These pharmacists are among the many innovators and pharmacy leaders we’ll be featuring on


As the world of pharmacy changes, universities are helping to lead the way with new education designed for evolving practice. As attendees heard from Patricia Gerber of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of British Columbia, educators are focused on fostering the pharmacy leaders of tomorrow, with programs like LEAP (Leadership Enhancement Academic Partnership). Learning at the University of Waterloo, said Andrea Edginton of the School of Pharmacy, is built on innovation and preparing new pharmacists to think differently and thrive in the new pharmacy environment. These are just two of the educators leading the way for tomorrow’s pharmacists.




COVID-19 forced us to Flip the Pharmacy U conference, but we were still able to highlight the vibrant pharmacy community in a virtual setting. As one participant wrote: “This virtual event is fantastic! Well done. Haven’t seen anything like this; it’s impressive.”