The potential benefits for pharmacies and their patients through being able to work to full scope of practice is highlighted at Pharmacy 777 Shoalwater in Western Australia.
The community of predominantly elderly patients and maturing families serviced by the pharmacy presents the pharmacists and staff with unique challenges to meet their patients’ specialised needs in a highly competitive area.
Co-proprietors Julie Ng and Sam Afsar said the community had significant health needs that required specialised support.
“To meet these needs, we provide a wide range of services including compliance support (Home Medicines Reviews and dose administration aids), diabetes services, vaccinations, and integrative health offerings,” Julie said.
“In addition, we offer sleep apnoea services, health checks, mental health service, mobility aids, wound care, compounding, hospital discharge support, transplant support, express deliveries, and Call`&’Collect.
“And while most of these services have been provided by pharmacies before, our innovation has been in their comprehensive and detailed implementation.
“We noticed a big barrier for our patients was the confusion around and the lack of follow up pre and post-hospital discharge. We tailored a comprehensive support service to ease their transition into and out of hospital. Helping to reduce medication misadventure and readmission rates.
“We also offer specialized support for a large number of transplant patients, with a focus to help improve compliance and reduce complications in the short and long term. This was implemented in collaboration leading transplant specialists in WA
“This is a holistic patient-centric approach and focusses on the right service for the right patient, shadowed by adequate follow up.
“Each Pharmacist has undergone specialised training to champion various health services.
“But over and above all of these offerings, I would say our focus on integrative health has been key to our success.
“We have three integrative pharmacists, including the only pharmacist in Australia with a Fellowship in the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine.
“We help patients with gut-health, anxiety, stress, and mental health via paid consults and an exclusive specialised supplement range.
“We also have a network of referring integrative practitioners.”
Close cooperation and collaboration with other health professionals is a key ingredient in the pharmacy’s business plan.
“We have an amazing referral network with our allied health which supports our professional services as well.”
Mr Afsar said Pharmacy 777 Shoalwater was a prime example on how potential full scope of practice in a community pharmacy setting could help a pharmacy’s business performance transform completely.
“We were a struggling business six to seven years ago with our competitors going hard on price,” Mr Afsar said.
“By establishing an efficient workflow; a united, engaged team; tailor-made professional services for the unique needs of the community; and most importantly giving back to the community that has given us so much has brought us to where we are today.
“Our approach is not only about tailoring our services to the community, but to respect and treat each patient as an individual.
“We have undergone two major renovations to implement an efficient workflow to reduce wait time and allow pharmacist-patient interaction.
“We now have two dedicated consult rooms so all our services can run smoothly.
“We don’t generically market our services but rather target each patient’s individual needs after assessing their barriers to healthcare, risk factors and what services we can deliver to provide the most benefit to the patient in front of us at that moment.
“We follow up with our patients, and when there’s been a gap in our services, we have worked hard to fill that need by creating new services or facilitating referrals.
“Our patients and allied health network all appreciate the changes we have made over the years to have a clear ‘health’ offer.
“The biggest strength will always be the team we have built.
“We started with six staff members, and now we have 17.
“Our team strives to be better on these three critical elements of community engagement, professional services and business development as we continue serving our community.”
Engagement with patients and people in the region underpins all the services and to underpin this approach the pharmacy has developed a loyalty program designed to help support and engage the community’s needs.
“A proportion of every purchase from its members goes back to a local cause,” he said.
“We have supported struggling local sports clubs, the children’s ward in the hospital, and the local RSL to name a few.
“We are part of every local club in Shoalwater and some of the surrounding suburbs.
“We host education seminars every six months on various topics where we bring local allied health professionals together.
“Some topics include pain, immune health, diabetes, and heart health.
“We promote these events via social media, local newspapers and instore and they are very popular, filling up to the capacity of 60 participants every time.”
“We throw a Christmas party for our patients every year to celebrate. We make a special effort to send personalised birthday cards and a small gift to our top 200 patients.
“We love the bond we have built with a lot of the elderly patients living alone.”
Like many pharmacies COVID-19 brought its own challenges.
“During the pandemic we opened a COVID hotline, so our vulnerable, elderly clientele could reach out with any enquiries or for support.
“We also send our team to specialised training on sleep, geriatric health, integrative health.”