Welcome to the March edition of i2P (Information to Pharmacists.
March usually signifies the month where creditors are tidied up, Tax Returns are filed and the implementation of a marketing strategy thought about over the holiday period.
Plans will probably not be grandiose, as cash flows are in short supply.
But you can always tidy up and make some small investment to adjust systems and build or modify existing physical spaces.
Our feature article, “Clinical and Consultant Pharmacy - Perspectives on Leadership and Branding” is about leadership, branding and the value of pharmacy cognitive services (how to build something out of nothing), and that is an area that you can begin to develop with minimal cost.
Why not make your major plan for 2013 the design of a clinical space and what services you would like to sell from it?
Pharmedia this month has as its discussion topic “The Hype Surrounding Doctor Shortages”. The discussion illustrates how the medical profession distort statistics to prop up unnecessarily large populations of GPs and how they hijack monies that ought to be available for all health professions
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Regular weekly updates that supplement the regular monthly homepage edition of i2P.
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This article is about a great Australian leader, a product that has no apparent value, and a pharmacy cognitive service that has no apparent value.
It is also a story about how water has become a $multi-million industry and how pharmacy cognitive services are yet to flourish.
It is also a story about branding and how the water brand was built and is still building its value and influence.
Most health professionals acknowledge that diet and lifestyle are the initial contributing factors in the move from wellness to illness.
Health professionals guide, teach, demonstrate, advise, monitor and inspire. Or that’s what I thought health was all about.
At its fundamental core, any professional skills are learnt through experience. In essence, students and interns learn through engaging with patients and senior, more experienced colleagues.
We currently employ three pharmacy students as pharmacy assistants.
They are terrific employees.
They are smart, quick to learn, motivated, committed and pro-active.
They really like working in our pharmacies, which is just as well given their choice of professional endeavour.
The downside is that every six months we have to sit with them and re-work their rosters.
Each university semester their study commitments change.
The only constant is their availability on weekends.
With all the talk in pharmacy media recently about expanding pharmacist roles within the healthcare team and various commentators now taking aim at the dispensing fee, many dispensary pharmacists are feeling a little unappreciated right now. There is a sense that the act of dispensing a prescription is undervalued and seen as a cost that should be reduced and the value of it is questioned by many commentators (e.g. serial pharmacy critic Professor of Health Economics Phillip Clarke). Dispensing is the most fundamental and one of the most profitable processes undertaken in pharmacy right now. You have to sell a lot of toilet rolls to make the same dollar profit as a patient electing to take the generic brand of Atorvastatin 80mg X30 instead of the Lipitor brand.Comments: 3
The Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS) is available to provide support by listening and supporting you after a traumatic event such as a hold-up or violence in your workplace, natural disasters such as fire and flood, a medical emergency in the pharmacy or other unexpected events such as a car accident. The service can be contacted on 1300 244 910 between 8.00 am and 11.00 pm every day of the year.
Editor's Note: As pharmacists begin to focus on the development of paid professional services, the need for communication between pharmacist (and other) practitioners will emerge.
This should build into a network and should happen naturally and organically as various members discover their common interest and undertake research in their own right.
Services may have to be initially designed to attract payment from the general public, without necessarily seeking government subsidies and the bureaucratic restrictions that go hand-in-hand with government payments.
Sure it will take a while to build, but at least it will be a progressive build.
More than ever before, during 2013 broken promises will break hearts, images and integrity.
Politicians and governments have seemingly been slow to learn that unfulfilled promises quickly become millstones.
Businesses too need to be sensitive to the fact that not delivering promises can be heavy burdens to bear in tight competitive marketplaces.
Implicit in all advertising, marketing, merchandising and promotional offers are the reassuring and essential promises of honesty and trust. Zamel’s, the national jewellery chain, which recently had a change of ownership, has been fined twice by the regulatory authorities (most recently $250,000 for misleading advertising). The resultant stigma will be borne, in part, by the retail jewellery sector and by the staff members of the entity itself. That will impinge on its ability to recruit and retain quality personnel.
I've often said the greatest mistake a person can make is to be afraid to make one.
To be successful, you must come to terms with the notion that you will make mistakes.
In fact, you often need to increase your failures to become more successful.
Mistakes don't make you a failure.
I always say, if you want to triple your success ratio, you might have to triple your failure rate.
I've been thinking about Joe, two Bernard's, a couple of Georges, and sand.
On December 13, 2012, the coinventor of the bar code died at 91.
During WWII, Joseph Woodland's military service involved being a technical assistant on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
I'm told he thought he was working on a cure to cancer and later found out that he contributed to the development of the atomic bomb.
Sitting on a beach in 1948 (the year I was born), twenty-something Woodland found himself drawing Morse code in the sand, which he learned as a Boy Scout.
That's when he had the epiphany.
Pulling his fingers down from each, he realized dots and dashes could be morphed into thick and thin parallel lines--promising a solution to a problem he'd been pondering.
Editor's Note; We have all come to expect that illegal sales of drugs online occur every day.
But when news in mainstream media broke about the extent of illegal drug usage in Australian sporting teams and individuals, all trying to gain an "edge" we all began to feel nauseated as to how far various sports have sunk.
More so in the latest revelations relating to football codes where it was reported that many of the drugs and modified "supplements" were sourced from Australian compounding pharmacies.
The latter statement was made without any supporting evidence, and this has cast a shadow over all pharmacists, because the general public has not caught up with all the various divisions and specialties that make up our profession.
So we are all "tarred with the one brush" so to speak.
Editor's Note: The cost shifting games that go on between federal and state governments have dogged Australian Hospitals for many years.
When the Gillard government came to power it promised to end the cost-shifting debacles that continually affected the tension between hospital clinical staff and hospital administrative staff.
The result of this tension is often that some administration procedures, of necessity and for safety reasons, are intertwined and managed best, between the two camps.
It appears that money is being pulled back from hospitals by some state governments in an attempt to force the federal government to fund the shortfall.
The danger, as always is some cuts may affect medication management across the board with the patient death rate likely to increase sharply as a result.
The Society of Hospital Pharmacists, (through spokesperson Suzanne Newman), has reported on a scenario in the UK that may possibly be duplicated in Australia.
I think we'd all agree that things seem pretty tough out there in the business world today.
In fact, many would think we have been hit with the perfect storm – recessionary like conditions, political uncertainty, growth in internet ecommerce, increased consumer saving, just to name a few.
I recently received a discount voucher in which a 'medical herbalist' was offering a substantial discount on a 'Clot Retraction Test (CRT)'.
His advertisement claimed that the test could diagnose a wide range of illnesses, including cancer.
These vouchers had been distributed to nearly 150,000 letter boxes and were available online.
As a cancer survivor, I was concerned that this test might be false and, if so, I wondered what could be done to stop further advertising.
"A woman dies from a 10-litre a day Coke habit. Children's clothing sports advertisements for Jim Beam bourbon. These are extreme examples, but just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the alcohol and processed food companies using the same tactics as Big Tobacco to increase profits at the same time as increasing sugar and salt in our diets.
I was watching a popular TV news show recently (The Project), which featured a member of the Friends of Science in Medicine delivering an alarmist message about the use of complementary and alternate medicine use in the treatment of cancer.
The story followed the usual script line and was delivered without any evidence being offered as to patient harm (specific instances) and a balancing voice from a consumer patient.
I was privileged last night to have been invited to a Master Class on Rheumatology in Melbourne. Sponsored by a drug company, sure.
Swanky eastern suburbs restaurant, sure,
Amazing food and wine, of course!
But interestingly, no mention of the any particular drug.
Cataracts and Vitamins: The Real Story
by Damien Downing, MBBS, MSB, and Robert G. Smith, PhD
(OMNS Mar 5, 2013) "Hidden danger of everyday supplements is revealed" blared the headline in the UK Daily Mail  - a newspaper that is well known for declaring that, for example, "coffee causes cancer" and "coffee reduces cancer risk" on different pages of the same issue. This time it is reporting on a study out of Sweden that appears to show that taking vitamin C or vitamin E supplements increases your risk of developing a cataract - by about 20% for C and 60% for E.  It makes a good headline, but does it make sense?
Editor's Note: The following is an opinion piece written by Chris Walton, CEO of the pharmacist trade union APESMA.
The issue he talks about will not be going away quickly, so it will be necessary (for everyone) to change direction rapidly and begin to formulate creative solutions.
That will depend to a great extent on the willingness of the PGA to initiate or participate in discussions to find solutions - not the head-to-head confrontations that have become characteristic between the PGA and APESMA.
But I also concede that sometimes this is not possible when too many egos become involved.
Chris Walton says:
Recently there have been an increase in range of pharmacy owners backed by the pharmacy guild campaigning for the existing penalty rates paid to pharmacists for extra work to be cut.
This includes a recent option piece from Friendly Pharmacies CEO Neil Retallick who argues that pharmacists would be better off with a reduction of their penalty rates.
It’s a bewildering and sometimes fast-paced environment in the world of community pharmacy.
And the convergence of Information Technology in the form of cloud computing and bricks and mortar retailing is gaining momentum.
A wake up call emerged recently when it was revealed that Coles was trialling interactive tablet devices in its Southland store in Victoria, to sell pharmaceuticals through the provision of information.
The PSA and the PGA are joint shareholders in an umbrella company, supposedly set up to manage accredited pharmacist interests in the delivery of medication review services.
This service is simply a single professional service divided into a number of facets.
There is no evidence that other different professional services will be added to the repertoire, therefore it provides a limited framework to sustain an income in its own right.
However, medication reviews would always be seen as the fulcrum when leveraging new professional services.
The motives of the PGA towards AACPA seems to be one of containment and disruption, and as such is engaging in an unprofessional conflict of interest.
Therefore the PGA adds no value for the AACPA except to provide an adverse negotiating service.
In fact they have been shown to actively oppose any development aspiration whatsoever.
Who needs enemies when you have the PGA as a "friend"?
When patients move to a new location, one of the activities they value is the preparation of their clinical history in a portable format.
This is not a document that pharmacists are often invited to participate in by their medical counterparts or other health advisers who share input into a patient’s health care.
Yet pharmacists are in a unique position to tell a substantial component of a patient’s story because of the extra contact created by a patient when they visit a pharmacy for additional clinical services.
Storytelling is a normal human process to understand and express who we are.
Clinical storytelling is just a specialised variant from the normal social story, but can still claim prominence in a patient's social settings comprised of family and friends, as well as carers and other health practitioners.
When I went into business many years ago, I told people I owned an envelope company.
I had business cards printed that identified me as an "envelope salesman."
I described myself as an entrepreneur.
All of those facts are still true, but incomplete. What I and our company really do is provide customer service.
The outcry following the PGA call for a moratorium on Home Medication Reviews, seems to have produced a result of sorts.
Suddenly, money has appeared through aggregating “underspends” in some of the 5CPA programs and a reduction of incentives earmarked for DAA’s and Clinical Interventions.
This new money for HMR’s will see the budget allocation increase by 30 percent in each of the next two years.
When compared to a “secret” paper (that had been circulated in a not so secret fashion) that called for a 30% reduction in HMR funding, the new funding shows a breakthrough for commonsense.
You would also have to wonder why the PGA could not have put forward this ne compromise instead of pushing for a moratorium on HMR's.
Well, everybody has a view on that!
APESMA has cautiously welcomed an announcement today by Health Minister Tanya Plibersek that the HMR program would continue apparently with little change in the fee paid to the hundreds of pharmacists who provide the important program to Australian patients.
President of APESMA’s Pharmacy Division, Dr Geoff March, said more detail was required to assess the announcement but he welcomed the news that the HMR program would apparently include “virtually no change to the current fees for HMR or other vital medication management services under the Fifth Agreement.”
Australian schoolboys have begun receiving the first of three vaccinations to protect them against cancers and disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), Health Minister Tanya Plibersek has announced.
Australian schoolboys have begun receiving the first of three vaccinations to protect them against cancers and disease caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said today.
Imagine you are driving a car, and the harder you press on the accelerator, the harder an invisible foot presses on the brake. That’s what happens when obese people diet – the less food they eat, the less energy they burn, and the less weight they lose.
While this phenomenon is known, scientists at Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research and the University of NSW have pinpointed the exact brain circuitry behind it and have published their findings in the prestigious international journal Cell Metabolism, now online.
Professor Herbert Herzog
The Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists and Managers, Australia (APESMA) is the largest national non-profit organisation representing professional employees including engineers, scientists, managers, architects, IT professionals, pharmacists, surveyors, veterinarians, collieries staff and many other professionals.
Membership comprises 25,000+ members are found in all areas of public and private employment across Australia.
For more information contact Matt Nurse, APESMA Media and Marketing Manager on 0407 351 277
APESMA has just had a win against the PGA through the preservation of employed pharmacist penalty rates.
Editor's Note: Conflicting reports are beginning to appear in medical media regarding GP shortages and Internship shortages.
The picture is very confusing with an underlying problem that could be inflicted on pharmacy and its aspirations to build new clinical service propositions for their patients.
We have pulled two newsclips from various online medical media and have asked Mark Coleman to provide some insights.
His comments appear below the newsclips that follow.
Kay Dunkley - BPharm, Grad Dip Hosp Pharm, Grad Dip Health Admin, MPS, MSHPA: Western Australian pharmacists now have the Pharmacists’ Support Service (PSS) as close as their phone on 1300 244 910 | open full screen