Pharmacy U

Pharmacy U Vancouver: Focus on patients, you can drive revenue


Rahul Bhagirath went to Pharmacy U Vancouver for the fourth year in a row, once again looking for new ideas and ways to innovate operations at his Antidote Pharmacy in Surrey, B.C.


by Lawrence Herzog

Photos by Brandon Gray


“At previous shows, I bought a fast-fill machine and found a supplier to change all my shelving. This year I learned the advantages of diversifying our skill base and using our techs more for dispensing to free up pharmacists to do professional tasks like med reviews.”

The sold-out conference featured a powerful selection of 18 technical and business-focused CCCEP-credited presentations, interactive workshops, and panel discussions aimed at giving participants tools and ways to improve their practices. Among them were sessions on winning with appointment-based services, practical tips for managing retail pharmacies, making clinical decisions with confidence, improving medication adherence, and creating senior-friendly pharmacies.

This was the third Pharmacy U Vancouver for Bimal Davda, pharmacist at Pacific Pharmacy in Surrey, B.C. “I enjoy meeting new grads and checking out new opportunities and innovative ideas. We got a new fast fill machine and it’s a great way to get new credits that we need every year.”

Leanne St. Onge, pharmacy manager at the Co-op in Rocky Mountain House, Alta., gleaned plenty of actionable ideas. “We have a large seniors’ clientele, and chronic disease management is a big part of our workload,” she said. “A lot of the seniors we serve have caregivers now, and not always with fluent English, so that presents some communication challenges to make sure the information is being imparted.”

Putting patients first

Delivery of patient-focused care by constantly improving clinical and business practices was a theme that ran through the sessions at the conference. So, too, were ways that pharmacists can maximize their existing scope of practice and expand services to meet the challenges in an ever more competitive marketplace.

“Remember that changing to a different, better method doesn’t invalidate what you’ve done before,” Allan Chilton, CEO of Saskatchewan’s Rubicon Pharmacies Canada, said during the luncheon discussion. “The biggest struggle is human resistance to change. Do your research, leverage all your resources, put patient care number one, and go forward. That’s how you can succeed.”

Mike Boivin, president of CommPharm Consulting, encouraged delegates attending his session on effectively selling services to build on their existing skillset. “What makes you an effective pharmacist will also make you an effective salesperson. You are knowledgeable, passionate, authentic and a good listener. If you understand the needs of your patients, then you are well positioned to sell them what they need.”

Appointments with success

Synchronizing the medications of patients with multiple, chronic conditions can help increase adherence levels by 30 per cent and improve outcomes while helping pharmacies run more efficiently. “That is really the heart of the appointment-based model,” said Jesse McCullough, Rite Aid director of pharmacy initiatives and business development. It’s a shift from a reactive to a proactive pharmacy that helps to reduce inventory and anticipate requirements. “When your patients do come in, it [the appoint-based model] allows you to focus on their needs and to offer other services on top,” he explained.

A session on medical synchronization, delivered by pharmacist consultant Bryan Gray of Thunder Bay, Ont., was really helpful, reports Melody Shirvan, pharmacist at Medical Centre Pharmacy in Vancouver. “We have brought back many of the ideas and are now working to implement them to help make our workload more efficient and predictable. We realize it will take a few months to have everything in synch, but already we are finding that our patients appreciate the value of the process.”

Next up is Pharmacy U Toronto on February 4th. Work is already underway for the 2017 Pharmacy U Vancouver next November.