Pharmacy U

Pharmacy U Toronto inspires pharmacists to change


Sheila Kemp, Sean Simpson and Richard Stein have been busy in their respective pharmacies this year introducing products, systems and procedures they learned about at the last Pharmacy U Toronto conference.

By Talbot Boggs

Photography by Brandon Gray


Kemp, for example, has made a number of changes to her business as a result of attending presentations on integrating reimbursed services, improving productivity through workflow and design, optimizing medication reviews, and managing staff performance.

“I now use a staff member to bill for my professional services in much the same way that a dentist or lawyer would, and now we also look for cases of medication non-adherence that can lead to more MedsChecks or pharmaceutical opinions,” says Kemp, owner of Aikenhead’s PharmaChoice in Renfrew, Ont.

“As a result of the presentation on medication reviews, we now perform MedsChecks for all pre-operation patients, even when they are purchasing simple things like bowel preparation products over the counter,” she adds. “We print the last MedsCheck date on our hard copies so we won’t miss any annual renewals, we book appointments at quiet times like 9 a.m. and in the evenings or on slower afternoons, and we now prepare our own MedsCheck letters and have them available at the checkout station to put into the bag of any patient who is due for one. These were all suggestions I got from the session.”

Kemp also became aware of the importance of playing the right kind of music in the store, maintaining suitable noise and light levels and the different kind of behaviour patterns that staff members are likely to exhibit. “I was quite surprised to hear that the correct music played in the dispensary actually can make people work harder and make fewer errors,” Kemp says. “The presentation on managing your staff’s performance for results was excellent in explaining staff behaviour patterns and was a real eye-opener about staff fears, turf and power struggles, expectations and communication concerns. It was a very interactive presentation and even provided a worksheet to take back to assess your staff.”

Sean Simpson, owner of Simpson Pharmasave stores in Niagara-on-the-Lake and Virgil, Ont., has been busy this year making changes to his dispensary work flow to accommodate a new ScriptPro robot and also introducing a new Integrated Voice Response (IVR) system that he learned about at Pharmacy U Toronto.

Simpson introduced his robotic system in April and got tips on where it should be located in the dispensary and changes he needed to make to his shelving system from the presentation on productivity through workflow and design. He also consulted with presenter Wayne Caverley on the IVR system. “We are using the IVR service primarily for after-hours,” Simpson says. “It answers the phone for us, takes messages, enters prescription refill information so it is waiting for us as soon as we come in the next morning, and does outbound messaging. It has helped us streamline workflow and promote medication adherence, and I learned about it all at Pharmacy U in Toronto.

Pharmacy U was particularly timely and relevant for Richard Stein, owner of the Canadian Compounding Pharmacy in Toronto. Stein has been in the pharmacy industry for more than 40 years and was in negotiations with some pharmacists to take over his practice when he noticed the Pharmacy U presentation on building a business plan for your pharmacy.

“When I saw it I couldn’t believe it – it was super timely for me because I was in negotiations with some new pharmacists to take over the business and I would stay on in a pharmacy and advisory capacity,” Stein says. “With new people coming on board, it’s particularly important to have a good plan for the business as it moves forward with new management and owners. That session really hit home and was incredibly timely.”

Education — plus much more

Besides the many accredited presentations, Pharmacy U afforded a unique opportunity for pharmacists and industry professionals to get together, network, and share experiences and best practices.

“I thoroughly enjoyed each presentation that I attended, but apart from them Pharmacy U also provides a wonderful opportunity to network with other pharmacists and pharmacy owners from all different banners,” Kemp says. “There is always a different group to meet at the tables in the different presentations and I often brought my frontshop manager to the meetings as well because there is so much information about that part of the business.”

Pharmacy U Toronto returns to the International Centre in Mississauga, Ont. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 with a new lineup of CE-accredited education sessions and a host of industry networking opportunities.

Pharmacy U Toronto is right around the corner. Get all the details at