PBN2015: What did we learn? Top 3 takeaways


Date: 30 September 2015

With more than 40 presenters, 30 sessions and over three days, there was lots to learn at this year’s PBN event.

Sessions were led by leading business professionals in the pharmacy space who treated audiences with truckloads of specific examples and tailored advice that focused on innovating and developing a pharmacy business.

The mammoth three days left delegates (and those following on social media) with a lot to absorb. To help you soak up the ideas and advice during PBN2015, we’ve compiled a short list of three key takeaways from the event. Take a look:

  1. Innovate or risk being ‘trampled’

Keynote speaker Dr Kia Pajouhesh set a loud and clear tone for PBN2015: pharmacy is facing many challenges and you need to adapt.

During his address, Kia called on pharmacies to take a series of complex issues and make them simple and focus their resources and services on providing unique care to customers.

Innovation in the pharmacy industry does not have to mean competing with the big groups or stores driven by pricing. Using the unique example of Simba from the Lion King, Kia said pharmacies need to think of elegant solutions to their problems – or face being trampled by the metaphorical Wildebeests!

“Focus on industry strengths such as service, people and personalities rather than price competition,” Kia said.

Managing Director of Instigo Andrew Pattinson also made the case for innovation during his session on growing customer loyalty and engagement.

“Before you jump into innovating your business you need to identify your objectives,” Andrew said.

Andrew gave the example of how disruptive business models like Uber and Airbnb are connecting with customers on a whole different level.

Andrew made the case that driving customer engagement through innovation is key for pharmacy business success.

Takeaway thought: These sessions brought to life the fact that being successful doesn’t just mean you need the right plans, but also the courage to put them into action.

  1. Arm yourself with tools to change

Delegates were treated to a lot of ideas for innovation and transformation, but it was the tangible advice and tools shared by speakers that delegates craved.

During a session on change management delegates were armed with tools to help support change in their pharmacies, which included key management models from the John Kotter eight-step process,  Kurt Lewin’s unfreeze and freeze method and Prosci Approach to Change.

Pam Price from the Pharmacy Guild said understanding your staff motivations is key to motivating them to change.

Delegates also learnt the key lessons for going into a negotiation. Planning ahead, doing your research and going into the negotiating room with a win-win attitude is essential for any negotiation.

Many speakers also spoke about technology's role in not only changing how pharmacies operate but also look in the near future.

Robert Sztar editor of Transpharmation magazine and Robert Allen from Dose Innovations shared thoughts on emerging new tech that included virtual shelves that clean themselves and 3D printers that can print drugs.

“3D printers should be in all pharmacies in Australia,” Robert told the audience.

While introducing game changing technologies into your business is essential, fellow panellist Linda Miller from Pharmacy Profit Secrets said businesses must also introduce change management with staff.

“Getting staff involved early, empowering them and asking for ideas is key,” Linda said.

Takeaway thought: Having effective strategies and tools, learning the success and failures of real-life examples and knowing how to go about implementing change was a key focus for many sessions at PBN2015.

  1. Paid professional services are key, but don’t undervalue them

Knowing what services to provide and how to fund them was on a lot of delegates' minds during PBN2015.

During a highlight session of the event, Pharmacy of the Year 2014 winner Samantha Kourtis and Matthew Taylor of MSI Taylor presented an engaging session on making your professional services a profitable business.  

One message was clear in the session: pharmacies need to stop devaluing services they offer in the language they use.

“Please stop saying medschecks are free, stop using the word free for government-funded services. It will be harder to convince our patients to pay for services if we keep promoting they are free,” Samantha said.

Matthew and Samantha were adamant about how the value of services is achieved – value is not just in the consumable and staff costs, it’s the confidence your customers get from your services and every part of the customer experience adds value and is important.

“If the value in the service you are offering is $5, then charge $5,” Samantha added. “Don’t promote discounting of your services because it is devaluing our profession.”

Ashley Smith from Moodie’s Pharmacy in Bathurst NSW, winners in the Excellence in Professional Services category, took the professional ball and ran with it during her session.

Ashley touched on improving patients’ health outcomes through professional services and gave examples on the importance of having staff trained correctly and creating new roles to allow the business’ pharmacists to focus on providing professional services.

“Training and up skilling staff is essential. Where’s the pharmacist time best spent? That’s what we had to answer,” Ashley said.

“Define the price list for services you offer. It's hard to charge for things that you've been doing for free. Maybe empower staff to offer discounts where appropriate, or combine the price list with loyalty program discounts.”

Takeaway thought: Examples of real-life pharmacies putting paid professional services in practice gave delegates a multitude of ideas, practices and advice to apply the same models into their own businesses.

If you haven't already, visit the PBN website to read the wrap-ups from the conference and keep abreast of the latest pharmacy business news.

Contact: Christopher Davis

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Page last updated 30 August 2018