Welcome to the new homepage edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists) for October 2012.
This month we are concerned as to where we are all going and who is steering the ship.
The entire industry is feeling that it is on board the Titanic, heading towards the same fate.
The rate and size of community pharmacies entering into bankruptcy continues unabated.
Pharmacy leaders are certainly not out and about helping PGA members prepare contingency plans, or at least trying to create a soft landing.
Neither are they heading off industry problems created by the opportunists taking advantage of pharmacy weakness.
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Volume 6 Number 1
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Regular weekly updates that supplement the regular monthly homepage edition of i2P.
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I want to start this article off by congratulating Matthew Eaton, editor of the AJP , who made some strong comment on pharmacy leadership in his editorial in the August edition of the AJP.
Not only strong comment, but some sensible direction.
Against a background of unprecedented pharmacy bankruptcies and a Pharmacy Guild-inspired Business Network Conference in late September, the PGA is belatedly trying to sustain its failed leadership of community pharmacy.
Or is it?
What category are we in?
When I come into your pharmacy, or see your pharmacy details on your website, I desperately want to put you into an existing category.
That’s because the mental cost of inventing a new category for every pharmacy I visit is too high.
Balance is something we all need to achieve in life, both business and personal.
However, the business balance in pharmacy has been moving away from an optimum since 1978.
In that year the PGA set out a blueprint for future pharmacies and highlighted three models that it would be supporting – the “corner store” traditional model, the “superstore” model and the “professional” model.
History has shown since that the “corner store” has progressively diminished in impact, the “superstore” has shown impressive growth, and the “professional model” has never really got off the starting blocks.
Why would that have been?
Australia is many "Countries where they do things differently", not one uniform society, especially in things Medical.
This was brought home to me forcefully this week seeing a storefront in Moss Vale, NSW: Pharmacist Advice: "Helping manage your medication, Helping you stay healthy"
Seth Godin is regarded as someone very gifted in the complex area of marketing.
Some years ago i2P published an article Godin’s concept of an “idea virus” where a good idea, under the right marketing conditions can spread like a bushfire without the use of paid advertising.
The late Steve Jobs developed that concept very successfully in the launch of his iPad and iPhone products.
And Jobs’ “idea virus” still continues to work well after his death, and will survive for some time to come.
I thought some of his ideas were worth looking at against the current canvas of pharmacy.
Welcome to the third and final part of Marketing & Social Media 101 for Business.
So far we have covered marketing in general, including:
Part 1 - Defining what marketing is; Looking at the difference between marketing and selling; Identifying the four ways to grow a business; Discussed business growth strategies; Listed many of the tools of marketing; The importance of having an on line presence in some form.
Part 2 - Ensuring consistency between your traditional and social media marketing strategies; The importance of setting clear objectives;Acknowledging that your customers are already on social media; Having a clear social media marketing plan; Being patient with social media – not to expect immediate results; Recognising that social media should not be used to solely sell – that it should be utilised to principally build community and trust, and to inform and educate.
Editor's Note: This is a continuation of Chris Foster's third article in his series on the use of social media in the marketing mix of a pharmacy business.
Anyone who is interested in asking specific questions of Chris can email him at email@example.com
He also has a video of various presentations on this topic if you would like to contact him for access.
Social media is increasing in its usefulness as a business tool, but it does require understanding and planning before putting your toe in the water.
Large retailers such as Woolworths are already immersed in the world of social media and mobile phone apps and you do have to respect them for embracing this new technology, leaving competitors in their wake.
Economists are seldom right.
It is a recurring theme and reality. Put simply, economics is not an exact science.
There are too many variables for one to be definitive on any one issue or projection. Moreover, there is little scope for or recognition of the importance and nature of human perceptions and sentiments in economic equations.
I hate to lose.
That said, I am proud to admit that competition has made me a better businessman, a better golfer and a better person. And when there isn't another company or business to compete with, I try to outdo myself. If that sounds simple, well, it is. I always want to be at my best and show my best side.
People can exceed expectations when motivated properly. This story, told by Andrew S. Grove, former CEO of the Intel Corporation, the California manufacturer of semiconductors, is a perfect illustration.
Professor Philip Taylor joined Monash University in 2010 as Director of Research and Graduate Studies at its Gippsland campus. Prior to this he was Professor of Employment Policy at Swinburne University of Technology where he was Director of the Business, Work and Ageing Centre for Research. He has researched and written in the field of age and the labour market for more than 20 years. He is currently leading major programs of research considering the management of ageing workforces. His interests include the management of labour supply, individual orientations to work and retirement, employers’ attitudes and practices towards older workers and international developments in public policies aimedat combating age barriers in the labour market and prolonging working life.
My father, the youngest of 10 children, was born on a dairy farm in rural Ireland in 1910.
By the time he was twelve, five of his siblings and his mother were dead from vaccine-preventable diseases.
That was the 'natural' reality of survival, when homebirths were the norm and before vaccines, antibiotics and birth control pills. Is 'natural' really better?
The pressure to become part of a lifelong learning process to maintain a level of professional integrity is here to stay and won't go away.
Pressures exist in becoming part of this type of community because of time constraints and cost.
Yet registration as a pharmacist is an asset that has to be preserved and kept up to date.
An interesting educational opportunity has emerged.
Eleven years into the Afghan war, the August 22, 2012 Seattle Times headline reported, “2,000 U.S. dead in war, as new dangers emerge”—a statistic disturbing to hawks and doves.
Then this September 11, a year after the Ground Zero memorial opened in New York, the American Embassy in Libya was stormed, and the U.S. ambassador was killed.
We feel outrage, honor the dead, sympathize with their loved ones, and pray for peace.
A Roy Morgan poll conducted in Australia over the 9th and 10th May 2012 highlights a rating for ethics and honesty within the health professions.
Doctors scored an 83% rating (down 4% on the previous year), while pharmacists scored 88% (up 1%), and nurses were rated at 90% (unchanged) scored the highest.
This type of rating is usually fairly stable year-to-year with only minor movements up or down.
However, the 4% drop for doctors is significant and reflects a global pattern.
Something is obviously wrong.
The University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Pharmacy School is adopting cutting-edge technology including establishing a robotic dispensing unit in its teaching and learning facilities. An agreement with Medication Packaging Systems (MPS) to provide the equipment ensures that UTS students gain a competitive edge with relevant industry training and practical experience with new technology.
The robotic dispensing unit stores, rotates, dispenses and replenishes medications.
Radiology results and Pathology tests, and their interpretation for patients are lagging patient needs states the University of NSW after conducting a recent survey
The process is also time consuming and inconvenient.
Access to patient biometrics is essential to establish a diagnosis and delivered in a timely fashion can prevent patient damage from progressing further.
There's also the cost, as interpretation of results requires a follow-up visit by the patient to the doctor with appointments not often available for weeks in advance.
Because doctors are not doing their job, they are experiencing a global trend downwards in the regular polls conducted for levels of trust (a four percent decline for Australian doctors in the past 12 months).
Pharmacists have polled a significant trend upwards for trust levels, thus opening up opportunities to provide a range of clinical services.
In November 2005, Australian supermarket giant Woolworths Ltd purchased Progressive Enterprises Ltd, a New Zealand company that was previously owned by Perth-based Foodland Associated Ltd (FAL).
This marked the second attempt that Woolworths had tried to enter the New Zealand market.
Progressive Enterprises was capitalised through its Woolworths owner, for its initial expansion, and since 2005 has accumulated 150 supermarkets under three different brands- 70 under Countdown; 52 under Woolworths and 28 under Foodtown.
After extensive surveys and testing the Foodtown and Woolworths brands are to be gradually phased out and replaced by a revitalized, new generation Countdown brand.
July saw a landmark report published on the state of Primary Care by GP's in Australia: Caretrack .
The Caretrack project site notes: The editor of the MJA, Dr Annette Katelaris, has described it as the most important study published in the MJA in the last 10 years.
The reasons for the study were twofold: an earlier American study suggested only 50-60% of GP's followed known Best Practice and with the explosion in Medical technology, drugs, treatment and published research, and GP's are finding it increasingly hard to stay abreast of all current research.
There is no doubt that diabetic treatments (excluding insulin) have failed most Type 2 diabetic patients.
Constant monitoring and fine-tuning of blood sugar levels does not seem to be the answer.
And for some, there is the constant shift to weight gain and the possibility that Alzheimer's Disease (also known as Type 3 diabetes) and brain shrinkage, may be associated with the inflammatory effect of high brain sugar levels.
While some degree of control is achieved through current drug treatments, they are associated with a high level of side-effects, including death through heart failure.
Getting the balance right in terms of what pharmacy owners are able to pay their employees against a range of skills and the premium that should be paid to match the value of those skills, is a balancing act that has to be right.
To pay the “right” award means that PBS reimbursements for dispensing or professional fees will be “right”, because they are based on award rates.
It’s a spiral downwards for both sides if rates are set too low, or if the reverse takes place you begin to price yourself out of the market as governments make adjustments to their budgets to contain expenditure.
The pool of money for professional fee reimbursements by government always remains relatively constant.
I suspect, "Not as many as you think" because prescription sales will move on-line with lower prices and higher competition.
Australia Post will be leading a part of the Internet Shopping Revolution: physical delivery. They are providing secure "parcel lockers" accessible at any time. 
The Internet, as "bits and clicks", does browsing, shopping, payment and central fulfilment well, but the last link in the logistics chain, customer delivery, is weak. Secure, convenient, fast parcel delivery addresses this weakness. Can we assume that their courier service can access the lockers as well? 
Not mentioned is real-time tracking for parcels and packages.  If the organisation has the technology and customer demand, it should show up sooner, rather than later.
From this start, it is only a very short step to automated on-line dispensing from the GP's office. 
The PCEHR  already foreshadows exactly this as something useful, exciting and cheap.
A regular exercise regimen will increase life expectancy in the elderly, new research has found.
The Monash University-led study examined the significance of weight and physical function and the interaction on mortality in 1435 men and women aged 65 to 97 years, living in the community and representative of the Taiwanese population.
Researchers from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) have accurately mapped the patterns of abnormal gastric electrical activity that occurs during gastroparesis, a debilitating stomach condition.
Dr Gregory O'Grady, from the Auckland Gastrointestinal Research Group based at the ABI, says the new findings provide for the first time an accurate and detailed description of gastric dysrhythmias in humans that will help in the development of new diagnostic and treatment options.
A recent Cochrane review has confirmed that eating dark chocolate or cocoa can help to lower blood pressure.
The analysis of 20 randomized controlled or crossover trials included in the review revealed that consumption of flavonol-rich cocoa products led to an average 8/2.2 mm Hg drop in blood pressure.
A new drug candidate developed by scientists at CSL has been shown to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and reverse its progression in animal models of the disease as part of a collaboration with scientists at the University of Melbourne.
Professor Joe Proietto the coordinator for the Diabetes, Obesity and Endocrinology Research Domain at the University of Melbourne and a clinician at Austin Health says that this discovery represents an entirely new approach to the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Anti-cancer properties have been found in extracts from Australian-grown faba beans, along with effects that may have implications for treating hypertension and maintaining healthy weight.
As part of a study into the health benefits of faba beans, commonly known as broad beans, PhD student from Charles Sturt University (CSU), Ms Siem Siah applied phenolic compounds from Nura and Rossa faba beans to five different cancer cell lines in laboratory experiments at Wagga Wagga.
In all cases the rate of cancer cell death was accelerated.
An Australian research team has discovered how specialised immune cells recognise products of vitamin B synthesis that are unique to bacteria and yeast, triggering the body to fight infection.
The finding opens up potential targets to improve treatments or to develop a vaccine for tuberculosis.
The study, jointly led by the University of Melbourne and Monash University and published today in the journal Nature, has revealed for the first time that the highly abundant mucosal associated invariant T cells (MAIT cells), recognise products of vitamin B synthesis from bacteria and yeast in an early step to activating the immune system.
Editor's Note: I feel no pride in reporting the escalating number of bankruptcies in Australian pharmacy, but the latest high profile group to bite the dust is significant.
There is no doubt that the business side of pharmacy is hurting…badly.
There is little publicity surrounding pharmacy closures and bankruptcies, and really, when it comes down to it, there is little help.
There are many complex reasons as to how pharmacy owners get themselves into this situation, some because of poor individual management control, others from industry influence beyond their control.