The underlying message we learnt from APP


Another year, another APP.

However, not just any APP, 6000 attendees which is the highest on record and over 400 exhibitors. With that many attendees it’s safe to say the owners of Moo Moo’s and the Loose Moose can safely retire for another year. This year Sarah and I made the pilgrimage over there. As many from WA would know it’s a hell of a long way to go. We go to learn, to meet people, for the networking, and we go to find ways to help our client’s businesses grow.

Sarah and I at the Welcome Reception

Sarah and I at the Welcome Reception


Here are our highlights of APP2019:

General Industry Highlights

  • New $5m Mental Health Trial program commencing 1 July 2019 in 3 states (WA being 1)

  • PBS Payment times reducing from between 9-16 days to 2-9 days commencing April 2019.

  • Further $200m announced to maintain the higher rate of AHI Fee.

  • 2000 new medicines to be listed on the PBS.

  • Australian lives lost to the flu dropped from 1150 in 2017 to just over 100 in 2018. Vaccinations in pharmacies being crucial in this role increasing flu vaccinations from 8.6m to 11m.

  • 7CPA discussions to commence 1 July 2019 and aim to conclude by 31 December 2019.

  • Labour Shadow Health Minister Catherine King mentioned 1 in 14 Australians avoid filling prescriptions due to cost. Labour wants to improve affordability, noting the $1 discount did not work.

  • She also noted the difficulty in attracting pharmacists in certain remote areas of Australia and would like to address this issue.

Session highlights for the ones we attended:

Janine Garner: Collaboration - The Power of the Collective

This session was all about “moving from me to we”. The concept of the business world changing ever so rapidly that the ability to innovate, manage, lead and think is becoming very complex. To succeed we need to work together to make things happen. Main points;

  • We cannot move quick enough on our own.

  • Togetherness drives momentum. Collaborate to achieve 1 + 1 = 3.

  • Be different. Pharmacies need to be good at something. What problem or problems are you trying to solve. You can’t be all things to all people.

  • Learn to be authentic in a world of mistrust.

  • Far too many business owners are staying still. We particularly see this in pharmacy. Many are not changing rapidly enough.

  • Blame-itis – too many blaming everyone else. See our blog here where we commented on the blame game that currently exists in pharmacy.

  • Network outside of pharmacy to explore opportunities to bring into pharmacy.

Steve Baxter: How Your Pharmacy Can Benefit by Thinking Like an Entrepreneur

This session looks at the considerations for your business based on the lessons of Steve’s past business and investment experience of the Network Ten’s ‘Shark Tank’.

  • Must have a realistic view of how your business can grow.

  • Best Salesperson is always the business owner.

  • Staff- it’s vital to measure their performance.

  • Networking is key.

  • Always have a Plan B.

  • Do people want what you’re selling?

  • Are all your marketing efforts based around something your customers value?

  • A/B Testing is vital for marketing.

  • LISTEN to your clients.

Simon Hammond: Lectern Rock

From our perspective clearly, the best session of the event (second to my own session of course) and one that really resonated with me, with the vision I have for Peak, but also highlighted what is lacking in some sectors in pharmacy.

The session went into belief and how it is used as a powerful business positioning tool. It showed how successful businesses in 2019 enables customers to align and belong to points of view and shared beliefs.

These are the main highlights;

  • Owners must understand the “why” for their business. The reasons why they went into business. What problems do you want to solve?

  • What you offer needs to make sense to the customer.

  • Be something as opposed to selling something.

  • Customers seek deeper relationships. We seek people who stand up, that we can align with.

  • Pharmacy needs to learn how to connect on a deeper level, and how to connect with human beings.

  • Many pharmacy owners don’t stand for anything. They have lost their “why”.

Lectern Rock- our favourite session.

Lectern Rock- our favourite session.


Lauren Fried Using Data and Technology to improve Patient Satisfaction and Sales.

The power of disruption:

  • Operating a change environment

  • We all desire for human connection. Pharmacies need to be able to connect with their patients and their communities.

  • Don’t stand still. Ensuring you evolve with the changes.

  • Understand the way people work.

  • Without data- you cannot market.

  • How people have shopped has changed- ensure you factor this into your marketing.

  • Life cycle shifts.

  • We are on the brink of a Tsunami of change.

  • 53% of people will switch brands if their message is not personalised.

  • Pharmacies must put the patient at the forefront by increasing health services.

  • 58% of people use pharmacies for their health service needs.

  • Use your data to understand customers’ best interests.

Lauren advises to establish community pharmacy as the community health hub, partnering with other health providers. She also stated to integrate digital health into community pharmacy embracing digital technologies. This enables your business to anticipate customer’s needs.

Rob Hatch: How to Lead innovation

This session focus on the ability to generate new ideas. Rob explained that innovation is a practical set of actions. It can be learned, and innovation is all about improving.

The attendees undertook several exercises about generating ideas and the importance of committing to innovation. What we learnt was as a business owner if something is not progressing or evolving, it’s up to you to drive the change. Encourage your team to come forward with your ideas but DO NOT have a suggestion box. Alternatively, Create an idea register to have a level of accountability with innovation in your pharmacy.

Panel session: Redefining Value in the Management of Chronic Disease

Panellists: Anthony Tassone, Branch President, The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Victorian Branch; Samantha Kourtis, Community Pharmacist; Shane Jackson, National Vice-President, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

Anthony highlighted how he believes professional services should be called health services. That way people will better relate to the service provided. He is a strong advocate for health services and utilises opportunities such as other health providers commenting on pharmacist’s role in the health sector to promote professional services.

Samantha discussed the importance of collaboration with other health providers such as doctors, physios etc. She highlighted she has formed strong relationships with specialist doctors as she engages with them first online and learns about them. Once she understands their values she will reach out to them to help assist with patients and will ask for feedback. She treats it like a relationship as opposed to hard selling them what her pharmacy does. She says this has been very powerful for her pharmacy and has been able to assist many patients plus has had a number of referrals.

Dirk Bockelmann: Dynamic Dispensing a Whole Solution

Dirk showcased how BD Rowa’s medication inventory robot enables pharmacies to manage up to 97% of common dispensary stock automatically. Following a one touch philosophy, the inventory handling would be reduced to a single touch from delivery to dispensing. To further streamline the pharmacy workflow, digital displays extend the concept to non-prescription medication. Modern pharmacies in Australia are actively promoting quality consultations, patient convenience and a smart shopping experience across all product segments.

Dirk provided examples of European pharmacies which showcased an innovative shopping experience for patients.  This was a very impressive session and was interesting to see what the future for pharmacy could be with this amazing technology.

Ann Dalton Address Pandora’s Box: Dr Cindy pan

Dr Cindy Pan discussed her twenty-year-old book Pandora’s Box. She lifted the lid on how things have evolved over the past two decades and shared some funny insight into the world of dealing with humans and diseases. This was a light hearted but also touching presentation.

Top Tips for Buying a Pharmacy

Our first speaking gig at APP was both an honour and very exciting for the Peak team. I presented alongside Julie Bishop from Cohesive Finance for the Early Career Progression Stream. Everything went well, and we received some positive feedback from those in attendance. I won’t share the details as Julie and I are working on sharing similar content together very soon, stay tuned.

Presenting at the Early Career Progression Stream.

Presenting at the Early Career Progression Stream.


The underlying message from APP

There was an array of different speakers from various backgrounds, experiences and industries over the four days at APP. However, both Sarah and I noticed the same underlying message from most of the sessions. That was the need for human connection in pharmacy. The need to understand your patients and what they value from you as a pharmacy. To create a health hub that they can come to for assistance. There will always be heavy weights entering the market trying to disrupt the industry. However, if you understand what your patients WANT and NEED you can pave out a future for your pharmacy.

Now is the time to be innovative, to dig deep and create a strategy to help your pharmacy grow as a business. APP is always a great time to reflect on what you’re doing both right and wrong within your pharmacy, but its now time to start implementing the change.

Need some guidance? I am always up for a cuppa and a good old chat.