The pharmacy profession has lost its chemistry, it has become pharmacy against pharmacy until the cheaper more aggressive one triumphs against the other.
The consequences of losing our chemistry is that we are no longer afraid of destroying the lives of the pharmacy next door, because they are looked at as a business and business must be cut-throat.
The pressures imposed upon pharmacy have transformed the face of the industry.
Rather than remaining a customer/patient-centric hub of the community, where pharmacists were trusted and respected, pharmacy teams treasured their customers and patients and called them by name – and they were loyal.
Pharmacies have been lured to transform into retail establishments and we have successfully taken the bait.
The moment the ‘Community pharmacy’ became the ‘Retail pharmacy’, we lost the true essence of the community pharmacy. The moment that customer numbers, up-sells and the bottom line became more important than building a genuine connection, listening to questions and reassurance, the idea of the ‘community pharmacy’ lost its value.
At that moment, the ‘community pharmacy’ became replaceable with any large discount chain or supermarket.
With the rise of the retail pharmacy, no value is placed on the pharmacy serving a deeper purpose, the pharmacy nurturing its staff and providing a nourishing culture for them, or the pharmacy genuinely supporting customers and patients.
Instead, the focus is making the sale.
Health is now a commodity and it is only available to the highest bidder.
And this focus impacts every area of the pharmacy.
As I talk to pharmacists and watch the countless comments on social media outlets, it truly hurts me to see the extent of resentment and hatred many pharmacies have towards each other, especially when it comes to the implementation of the $1 discounted co-payment.
Stickers on scripts with ‘You Have Saved $1’, posters, television ads and pamphlets are everywhere.
I’m not against supporting patients financially, but I strongly believe that many of these campaigns are used to attract customers from neighbouring pharmacies and not to support existing customers.
You may think, well, that’s what business is all about, gaining the highest market share and shifting as many customers as I can to make me more profitable.
My answer to that is you have chosen the easy way out, you have no courage to improve what is within your own pharmacy and are using a tool that you so clearly demised to harm your neighbour who may not have the financial ability to fully impose the discount.
You’re willing to lose even more money to gain a customer, while you lose countless opportunities to save people’s lives because you are so focused on up-selling and making profits that you have forgotten the true essence of pharmacy, while you fight like seagulls over a $1 chip.
The focus has shifted from health care to I don’t care. I don’t care for anything more than I care for my bank account.
Sadly, this is exactly what the government wanted you to do, fight each other, after all, the health minister Susan Ley did say that this $1 discount is to help customers shop around, thus planting the rivalry that we are witnessing today.
So well done, keep fighting each other while the government makes another $400 million in savings out of your hard earned work.
With the relentless pressure inflicted by governmental reforms and fierce competition, pharmacy is having to cut costs and squeeze every cent of profit from their customers, pharmacy owners are having to find themselves in a state of constant stress to make ends meet.
This creates a situation where they feel like they’re constantly fighting fires.
They starve their capacity to serve and inspire because they are too preoccupied with balancing the books, gaining the highest market share, having the highest growth and creating the biggest discounts to lure in customers.
These financial pressures force pharmacy owners to think of customers as transactions rather than people, and they reduce staff conversations with customers to save time rather than improving the relationship between their customers and their team. They try to make the sale as quickly as possible rather than focusing on what the customer really needs.
In short, the current environment in pharmacy has become all about taking from the customer rather than giving value-added support.
Before long, staff members are terminated, pharmacy’s purchase the cheapest generics, low staff creates longer waiting periods for patients and a heavier workload on the remaining team members, eventually cracks begin to show.
Team members become disengaged and need to be constantly reminded to serve, impatience kicks in between the team members, trust breaks down, and soon every team member is only looking out for themselves.
In the end, the pharmacist is so focused on solving their current problems that the pharmacy as a whole lacks purpose and long-term business planning.
What they don’t realise is that this focus on fighting today’s fires only ensures more fires will ignite tomorrow.