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Community Pharmacy in a Post Covid World

You have probably seen this popular post circulating on LinkedIn purporting to be a survey that asks ‘’Who led the digital transformation of your company?

A) CEO B) CTO C) COVID-19."

Like most good jokes, it has some interesting insights. Prior to Covid-19 the thought of the head office team working from home with tools such as Zoom or Teams was unthinkable for most. Now it has become the norm.

Within a month, surgeries moved most of their patients to electronic scripts in England, and they carried out many more video consultations.

Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, gave the keynote address at the NPA video conference in July. He acknowledged the contribution Community Pharmacy (CP) made in the fight against Covid-19 and thanked the audience. His comments seemed sincere and when he went on to talk about how CP has a key role to play in community health in the future, this writer believed his commitments to be sincere.

He said the government have 4 main priorities for community pharmacy (CP) going forward;

1. Increased use of technology, the pandemic has shown that adoption can be moved swiftly

  • Examples include the sharing of patient records, video GP consultations
  • Devolved services, push collaborative patient delivery to a regional level

2. Pre and primary care provision – more services

  • Less emphasis on dispensing and selling retail products
  • Reduce pressure on other healthcare professionals, CP ideally positioned
  • Minor Ailment services and NHS 111 (when free of the pandemic)

3. More efficient dispensing

  • Hub and Spoke – but it will need new legislation to support it

4. Winter Planning

  • Increase the rollout of the traditional flu vaccination program
  • Get ready for a Covid vaccine

Change is coming to community pharmacy and in the face of change the winners are always the proactive ones. One thing, and one thing only will determine who are the winners and losers - Great Management. There are many good managers running pharmacies and pharmacy groups up and down the country but not as many great managers. Covid-19 may have advanced everyone’s digital transformation, but it was already underway in the businesses of great managers. They know that the best tool to lead change is an information one. More than 25 years ago, Jim Barksdale of Netscape said "If we have data, let's look at the data. If all we have are opinions, let's go with mine". Great managers demand data to support decision making and drive performance.

Business Intelligence (BI) or Data Analytics tools for pharmacy are the obvious answer. The reason they are not already widely deployed is that they are very expensive, there are long lead times to deploy them, they tie up valuable management time whilst they are being scoped and rolled out, and like many large complex projects, they fail.

In other business sectors there was a tendency to build their own BI solutions but due to the complexity and cost there was already a trend towards outsourcing this. The Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate this change. We expect to see large pharmacy groups across the world move to an outsourcing model for their more complex IT needs.

Cloud based BI provided by an expert third party has the technical and pharmacy business expertise to provide a better solution than an inhouse solution. A small percentage of claims that don’t get paid or are claimed late costs a great deal of money and ties up cash unnecessarily. Pharmacy teams need to be streamlined to provide services as the old commercial model based on dispensing won’t work any longer. The right information in the right format, to the right person, at the right time ensures the business runs efficiently.

Real World Analytics has already built a reporting suite for the CEO, CFO, Superintendent Pharmacist, Area Managers, Pharmacy Managers, and those that look after stock and purchasing. Benchmarking at branch and group levels works out of the box.

You don’t need to worry about security and GDPR as the supplier should have more IT security expertise built in than your internal IT department deliver. This company recently went through a due diligence process by a multibillion pound company. It took over 3 months and the norm for this company is 6-8 months. This means you can trust Real World Analytics.

As I talked about in my other blog, during WW2 Winston Churchill said, "Never waste a good crisis". Covid-19 may have kick started your digital transformation but now is the time to let it be the catalyst for your transformation.

For more information, please email pharmacy@realworldanalytics.com.

Real World Analytics delivers the right information, at the right time, to the right person to make strategic decisions to improve overall efficiency and profitability in the business.