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Pharmacy of Tomorrow: Transparent, united, risk-aware

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Speakers at the eighth annual Pharmacy Business Conference explored the vision of the ‘pharmacy of tomorrow’, welcoming the ‘golden era of pharmacy’

Integrating pharmacies more deeply into primary care networks and enhancing their capability to offer clinical services through Pharmacy First “is strategically significant not just for its funding, but because it signals a change in how pharmacies are perceived within the healthcare system,” the CEO of Community Pharmacy England, Janet Morrison, has said.

At the recent Pharmacy Business Conference chaired by pharmacist and owner of S.G Barai
Pharmacy, Reena Barai, industry leaders gathered to discuss ways to adopt the evolving landscape of pharmacy practice and chart a course for the future by adapting potential solutions to further expand community pharmacy services.

In her speech highlighting community pharmacy creating its own future, Barai explained that to bring ‘balance of tomorrow’, it is crucial to address the role of a pharmacists as a business owner.

Pharmacy Business Conference
Reena Barai welcoming the delegates and speakers at the 8th Pharmacy Business Conference

She reasoned it since administrative tasks, overhead expenses, and commissioner expectations have all significantly increased the pressure on pharmacy delivering.

She emphasised the need to” Change the dial, change the rhetoric, and think forward to create a promising future for our businesses and our communities.”

In his welcome speech, Shailesh Solanki, the executive editor of Pharmacy Business, also
addressed the financial challenges facing the sector.

“The funding model requires a complete overhaul,” Solanki asserted.

He attributed mounting losses to years of chronic underfunding in the sector and warned that pharmacy finances were in a perilous state.

Pharmacy Business Conference
Shailesh Solanki addresses the delegates at the 8th Pharmacy Business Conference

“It is estimated that in real terms, pharmacy funding has fallen over 30 per cent over the past five years,” Solanki said.

“The current contractual framework and an unjust reimbursement system mean pharmacies are frequently dispensing medicines at a loss. The situation is clearly untenable.”

To achieve success and fulfil the potential of pharmacies, central to the discussions was the vision of the “Pharmacy of Tomorrow,” where pharmacies play a central role in primary care networks and offer expanded clinical services to meet the diverse patient needs.

Morrison emphasised the importance of securing adequate resources to ensure that pharmacies can continue to innovate and meet the evolving needs of patients and communities.

Speakers also explored the financial and operational pressures facing UK pharmacies including procurement delays, staff shortages, and the impact of government decisions on pricing and delivery.

Best foot forward

“Community pharmacy has an important role to play in terms of addressing both adherence and when necessary, deprescribing with a focus on the prevention of ill health, which is a key focus for the NHS and future,” shared David Webb, CPhO, NHS England through a video message at the conference.

He emphasised on the role of pharmacists becoming vital in the coming years as the NHS has committed to empowering community pharmacy through pilot programmes like Community Pharmacy Independent Prescribing Pathfinder Programme starting September
2026.

pharmacy business conference
Delegates networking at the Pharmacy Business Conference

All newly qualified pharmacists would be independent prescribers.

The Chief executive of General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), Duncan Rudkin said:

“When you’re facing challenges and looking at new programme, it’s not about being told what to do, but about integrating insights and standards into your unique context to achieve the best outcomes.”

Despite the underfunding for existing core services and the new ones, he focused on key areas that reflect the pharmacies’ capabilities for good governance.

Rudkin urged the delegates to tailor insights and standards for unmatched success in new initiatives.

Community pharmacy to bolster NHS primary care vision
Pharmacy Business Conference
David Webb through video message at the Pharmacy Business Conference

During the opening keynote speech by CPhO, NHSE, David Webb addressed the cohorts to discuss the NHS perspective and said:

“Pharmacy professionals are playing increasingly important clinical roles in both primary and secondary care,” Webb continued highlighting the NHS’s commitment to
empowering community pharmacy.

Webb outlined the ongoing Pathfinder programme, which is working on clinical models for community pharmacy independent prescribing across various sites- aiming to bolster roles in preventative and mental healthcare.

He emphasised the clinical services offered by community pharmacies by bringing these essential services closer to patients’ doorsteps.

He noted that “80 per cent of people in England live within a 20-minute walk of a community pharmacy”.

“This expansion not only improves convenience for patients, but also empowers them to take proactive steps towards better health”, Webb told the conference in a video message.

Furthermore, he forecasted a notable surge in pharmacy professionals by 2028, underlining the NHS’s initiatives towards talent management and leadership development for pharmacy technicians.

In terms of “addressing both adherence and when necessary, deprescribing with a focus on the prevention of ill health, which is a key focus for the NHS and future,” Webb highlighted that community pharmacies are crucial primary care players.

‘Golden Era of Pharmacy’

During the Panel discussion around Innovation in community Pharmacy services, moderated by Reena Barai, the co-owner of Gompels Ltd, Patrick Gompels, Michael Lennox, NPA and Community Pharmacy Somerset, and Mayank Patel, Pearl Chemist Group highlighted the imperative need for adaptation in the face of evolving technologies.

Pharmacy Business Conference
(L-R) Moderator Reena Barai with Michael Lennox, Patrick Gompels, Mayank Patel during panel discussion on Innovation in Community Pharmacy Services

Gompels emphasised the crucial role of innovation in ensuring the sustainability of pharmacy practices.

He stated,” if we stand still, we will die. Health keeps moving, you have to keep changing. The things we have to do is exercise our NHS revenue to bring in new revenue over services.”

Moreover, the discussion highlighted the necessity of maximising NHS revenue through
investment in technology, staff capacity, and the importance of taking calculated risks for proactive engagement to gauge return on investment accurately.

Michael Lennox: “Delivering and executing the national contract is absolutely the prime thing. My system commissioned a minor ailment service, and I killed that local service.”

According to Patel, “it’s really important to use Tech really well… I think we’re more than
ready for the new type.”

Calling it “labour of love”, Patel emphasised on investing in staff along with technology as “it’s abut creating time to develop pharmacy team to take patient-centric approach.”

While Lennox shared stories of contractors adapting to change, he highlighted that “Delivering and executing the national contract is absolutely the prime thing. My system
commissioned a minor ailment service, and I that local service.”

He expressed that through adapting to the changes, adopting technology and automation
to help pharmacies focus on team and care for patients, “we’re entering the golden age for
independent pharmacy.”

Healthcare market projection

Joanne Redding, Director of Supplier Relationships at IQVIA, provided a comprehensive analysis of the key trends and dynamics shaping the industry’s trajectory.

Redding highlighted a myriad of challenges confronting the healthcare sector, including
financial constraints, medicines optimisation imperatives, and persistent workforce shortages.

These challenges underscored the urgent need for innovative solutions and strategic planning to address evolving demands effectively.

Data-driven decisions: Joanne Redding explores the power of analytics in pharmacy management

Utilising a blend of proprietary datasets and NHS data, Redding dissected demand trends within the healthcare market.

Notably, her analysis revealed a surge in demand for healthcare services, particularly within retail channels.

This trend reflects shifting consumer preferences and the growing importance of accessible healthcare solutions.

Redding’s analysis also shed light on significant shifts in market dynamics, with
independent pharmacies experiencing growth while national chains witnessed a decline in
market share.

This observation underscores the evolving competitive landscape within the pharmacy sector and the need for adaptation to changing consumer behaviours.

Drawing from her analysis, Redding projected a compound annual growth rate of 5.9 per cent for the healthcare market by 2026.

These growth projections highlight the sector’s resilience and its potential for expansion despite ongoing challenges and uncertainties.

The three pillars of good clinical governance

“Safety, quality, clinical governance makes good business sense,” Duncan Rudkin, CEO of GPhC, emphasised.

With significant change approaching the sector Rudkin highlighted the implications of good clinical governance when innovating community pharmacy services.

He proposed that embedding clinical governance into daily practice supports both patient safety and business viability.

Rudkin continued, “When you’re facing challenges and looking at new programme, it’s not about being told what to do, but about integrating insights and standards into your unique context to achieve the best outcomes.”

Pharmacy Business Awards
Duncan Rudkin, CEO of GPhC during his session on clinical governance

Further sharing the insights from the Council’s review of clinical governance in pharmacies, he revealed themes from inspection reports that identified good practices.

“In pharmacies with strong clinical governance, we observed a culture of continuous learning and improvement, patient-centred care, and a commitment to quality and safety,” he noted.

“Good clinical governance is not a one-size fits-all package,” Rudkin remarked. “It’s about
creating environments where clinical excellence can flourish.”

He emphasised the importance of technology integration, effective staff training, and patient engagement tailored to individual needs.

According to GPhC’s Clinical Governance Review, pharmacies demonstrating robust clinical governance practices had a 25 per cent lower incident rate of medication errors and a 30 per cent higher rate of patient satisfaction compared to those with weaker governance structures.

“In staffing considerations, we found a clear link between effective clinical governance and the successful induction and onboarding of new staff, comprehensive staff training, and the proficient utilisation of standard operating procedures”, Rudkin added.

The review highlighted how prioritising both professional and personal development,
teams, led by clinical and professional leaders, could tailor the skill mix to suit the specific needs of their pharmacy services.

Even amidst challenging circumstances, dedicating time to support the ongoing learning
of professional staff proved indispensable.

Additionally, teams demonstrated a keen awareness of the risks associated with varying degrees of integration, actively addressing these concerns rather than overlooking them.

Another pivotal element shared by Rudkin reflected the catalysts in clinical governance involved in the implementation of layered protective measures, such as regular communication channels and feedback loops, effectively minimising the occurrence of gaps and potential blind spots.

Leveraging USP for better patient outcomes and business growth

Kavita Datar from Haleon offered insights into building a successful OTC healthcare business by leveraging the unique selling propositions (USP) of P-medicines and enhancing patient experience.

Pharmacy Business Conference
Kavita Datar, Haelon at PBC addressing delegates

“Pharmacists are in a unique position to drive improved patient outcomes through enhanced interactions and education,” she remarked.

Datar discussed current opportunities within community pharmacy, emphasising the importance of maximising and leveraging these to build businesses.

She highlighted the shift towards selfcare among patients, driven by a desire for more information to make better healthcare decisions.

“Those moments of counselling and education with our patients are crucial,” she noted, “as they lead to medication adherence and reduced wastage.”

Datar also addressed the growing prevalence of chronic diseases and how pharmacists can play a pivotal role in managing these conditions through education and lifestyle
advice.

She encouraged pharmacies to utilise the increased footfall from new services like Pharmacy First to enhance patient experiences and business growth.

To illustrate her points, Datar shared a case study focused on pain management explaining how Haleon developed tools to support pharmacists in having better conversations with patients about pain, aiming for better patient outcomes.

“Understanding the individual needs of  patients and providing tailored advice is key,” she
said, emphasising the importance of empathy and effective communication.

Content is King!

“Pharmacies not optimizing their online profiles could be losing patients to competitors,” says CEO, Pharmacy Mentor, Saam Ali, who shared his 18 years of expertise in digital marketing to highlight the future of pharmacies embracing digital transformation at PBC.

Introduced by Dr. Bharat Shah, Founder of Sigma Pharmaceuticals, the session focused on leveraging digital marketing tools and techniques to drive business revenue from the clinical services offered at a pharmacy online.

Alongside Ali, speaker Mark Hopkins, owner and pharmacist at Hopwoods Pharmacy, shared his insights on how online presence of pharmacies can attract more patients and boost
profits through digital medicine dispensing.

Specialized in sports pharmacy, Hopkins agreed with Ali that a robust online presence,
bolstered by SEO and targeted content, is essential for pharmacies to capture this demand
and convert it into business growth.

Hopkins detailed Hopwoods’s digital transformation, which included a significant upgrade to their website and the implementation of search engine optimization (SEO).

This strategy resulted in a remarkable increase in consultations and private service bookings, demonstrating the substantial impact of a strong digital presence.

“The first year with our new website, we had 1,200 consultations. The next year, it was 4,000, and this year we’re at 1,300 so far.”

(L-R) In one frame, Saam Ali and Mark Hopkins

The integration of an online booking system has been crucial in streamlining our operations and significantly increasing our service capacity,” he shared.

“The integration of an online booking system has streamlined our operations. Our pharmacist can now schedule his day efficiently, accommodating consultations and managing walk-ins effectively,” he continued.

Moreover, Ali revealed that in the digital age, content is king and the use of digital tools and techniques like search engine optimization (SEO),SEMrush, Google Keywords, and Google Maps could bolster patient-pharmacy service connection digitally.

Both spotlighted the essence of targeted content for pharmacies to capture this demand and convert it into business growth.

Interactive Session with Michael Holden

During the interactive session with Michael Holden, Associate Director, Pharmacy Complete, delegates engaged in lively discussions and activities aimed at reflecting on the conference and planning actionable steps for the future.

Holden encouraged participants to consider one word that described their feelings about the current state of the sector, leading to a dynamic word cloud highlighting words like “exciting” and “opportunity.”

Delegates then discussed the new actions they planned to take as a result of attending
the conference.

Pharmacy Business Conference
Delegates discussing their vision of Pharmacy of Tomorrow

Conversations ranged from networking strategies to professional development goals, with participants sharing insights and commitments to drive positive change in their practices.

Holden emphasised the importance of taking concrete steps towards implementing these actions, urging delegates to commit to their goals and embrace opportunities for growth.

Delegates expressed enthusiasm for the possibilities ahead, recognising the value of collaboration and innovation in advancing the field of pharmacy.

Potential to reduce our taxed clinical resource

Janet Morrison, CEO of CPE, discussed the importance of sustainable investment, stating,
“We need sustainable investment because how can you plan and build for the future if we don’t have that firm footing?”

pharmacy business conference
Janet Morrison during the closing keynote session

Additionally, Morrison discussed opportunities to expand clinical services, noting, “There is potential to reduce our taxed clinical resource,” and urging for shared goals and a united approach.

Morrison emphasised that “a sustainable funding model is crucial to support the expansion of clinical services within pharmacies”.

She acknowledged the challenges faced during the implementation of Pharmacy First, including capacity issues, training needs, and IT-related hurdles.

Despite these obstacles, there was a palpable sense of optimism about the potential of these services to transform pharmacy practice and improve patient care.

Morrison noted “the vision of the ‘Pharmacy of Tomorrow’ is one where pharmacies are
dynamic hubs of clinical excellence and innovation” and she added that CPE has “made
a significant investment in all of the building blocks for the next contractual framework.”

Discussing the ongoing community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) for 2024/25 negotiations, Morrison underscored the pressing need for realignment and increased
funding.

“We know that the current contract of 8 billion is insufficient for the growing component
of dispensing with duty. So, we have to have a significant realignment of the contracts,” she said.

“We’ve got to have no unfounded increase of activity,” she added further emphasising the importance of demonstrating the value of pharmacy first services in relieving pressure on GP services and enabling higher acuity caseload management.

Pharmacy of Tomorrow
Pharmacy Business Conference
Michael Holden moderates panel discussion on ‘Pharmacy of Tomorrow’ featuring Janet Morrison, Olivier Piccard, Harry McQuillan and Dr. Bharat Shah

The panel discussion on the pharmacy of tomorrow, moderated by Michael Holden featured insightful contributions from key figures in the industry: Olivier Piccard, vice chair of NPA; Harry McQuillan, Chairman of Numark; Dr. Bharat Shah; and Janet Morrison.

Throughout the dialogue, there was a strong focus on collaboration, innovation, and adaptation to meet the evolving needs of the healthcare landscape.

The panel emphasised the importance of working together, both within the pharmacy community and with external stakeholders, to drive positive change.

McQuillan stressed the need for transparency in the supply chain, highlighting, “including
RCMP will always with NHS reasons, mostly north and east cooperation will be more than
more medicines used.”

Responding to the question regarding the future of pharmacy, McQuillan underlined the
enduring partnership between pharmacies and the NHS, stating:

“The NHS will remain a key focus going forward. It’s essential to maximise the use of prescriptions to manage chronic conditions and ensure medications are used appropriately.”

Dr. Shah urged investment in the right people and skills within pharmacy teams to foster innovation and growth, emphasising:

“Community pharmacies are waiting to find the recipient change in the world of practice, it will be required that embrace honesty can make commercial acumen.”

The panelists acknowledged the transformative potential of technology in enhancing pharmacy services and patient outcomes.

They encouraged pharmacists to embrace digital solutions and adopt an omni-channel approach to marketing.

Piccard emphasised the urgent need for proper funding and high-street presence to sustain
independent pharmacies, stating:

“As many pharmacies today want to invest in their business and find themselves perhaps running a deficit, we are increasingly hitting a cliff edge where many independents and policies would close.”

Morrison highlighted the significant influence of community pharmacy in shaping healthcare
policies, stating:

“To improve the value of community pharmacy, the potential community pharmacy, and the fact that we can offer solutions at a time when the NHS have so few to make, and that we’re a good value investment for them to understand that we are in a rocky and fragile state at the moment.”

The discussion delved into critical issues such as the role of NHS partnerships, transparency
in the supply chain, and the balance between professional ethics and business viability.

Concerns regarding funding constraints and the impact on patient safety were also addressed.

In her closing speech, Reena Barai paid tribute to AMG cofounders, husband and wife Ramniklal and Parvatiben Solanki, who passed away a few years ago.

Barai expressed her pride in chairing the conference, a significant milestone as an Asian woman. 

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