Who am I?
Just prior to Christmas last year I had an interesting experience which gained my attention. I was at my annual Christmas street party. You know the drill, all the neighbours plus kids, dogs and so forth. Everyone gathered on a nominated front lawn, with food, dips, beers and wines. There were the usual conversations and plenty of laughs. I was asked about my profession and I explained my business including my passion for community pharmacy. The lady next door responded with “I wish we had a Chemist Warehouse around here.” I asked her why and she said “because they are so much cheaper.”
This comment made me wonder what has happened to the profession of pharmacy. How has it got to this position where the pharmacy consumers equate cheap price to value? Price these days appears more important than service or the fact that you are trying to keep them healthy. Do the public not value the advice that comes from their local pharmacy anymore? Or is it they want the advice; they just don’t want to pay for it? I don’t think that issue only exists in pharmacy land though.
The identity of pharmacy appears a little confused. Pharmacy traditionally is a profession and a trusted member of the community. These days it seems to be more a retail outlet. A lot of the franchise models around at the moment appear to be based more on a retail concept. Pharmacists are feeling undervalued because of the consumer price-value focus. This may also be one of the contributing factors leading to the negativity within the industry at present, as the future of the profession isn’t clear.
So is pharmacy is losing its identity or is it just confused about who it should be? I know some wonderful pharmacy owners who are working really hard, and show a lot of care for their patients/customers. However, at the same time they are struggling with business, with rent, staffing and wages, falling profitability and trying to remain competitive. I feel the industry is now at a crossroad. The future is not in the hands of the government or the wholesalers. It is actually in the hands of the current and future generation of owners. The real entrepreneurial pharmacist who will drive innovation and change and make it a profession again, where value is viewed as something more than price.
So where is the pharmacy industry heading and what is the future of pharmacy, I have my views on this but would love to know what are yours?
The entrepreneurial pharmacist will rise.