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Pharmacy Business Conference 2024 envisions the pharmacy of tomorrow

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Pharmacy professionals address sector challenges, emphasising funding, data-driven arguments, and patient-centric care for tomorrow’s healthcare

The 8th Pharmacy Business Conference, organised by Pharmacy Business, unfolded a dynamic narrative around the theme of ‘Pharmacy of Tomorrow’, highlighting the trajectory of innovation, adaptation, and the evolving landscape of pharmaceutical services.

Attended by over 200 pharmacy owners, industry leaders, and stakeholders, the conference served as a medium for robust discussions and the exchange of valuable insights regarding the future of community pharmacy.

Amidst the persistent challenges posed by an underfunded reimbursement system and negotiations with governmental bodies and the NHS for the new community pharmacy contractual framework 2024/25, the conference pivoted towards investing in staff, adapting to change by investing in new technology, and optimising commissioning as pivotal strategies.

“Pharmacy professionals are playing increasingly important clinical roles in both primary and secondary care,” shared David Webb, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer (CPO), NHS in a video message.

pharmacy business conference 2024
Attendees during an interactive table workshop at the Pb Conference 2024

He highlighted the NHS’s commitment to empowering community pharmacy, with plans to expand services and deprescribe to align with the NHS’s focus on preventive healthcare.

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

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

‘If We Standstill we will die,’ says Patrick Gompels, co-owner of Gomples Ltd

Addressing the imperative need for adaptation in the face of evolving technologies, Patrick Gompels emphasised the crucial role of innovation in ensuring the sustainability of pharmacy practices along side Mayank Patel, DSP, Pearl Chemists and Michael Lennox, NPA and CP Somerest who echoed the sentiment.

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

pharmacy business conference
(L-R) Panel discussion on Innovation in Community Pharmacy Services, moderator Reena Barai, Patrick Gomples, Michael Lennox, Mayank Patel

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

While Lennox shared stories of contractors adapting to change, highlighting the importance of system-level involvement.

He said: “we’re entering the golden age for independent pharmacy.”

Pharmacy First is strategically significant”

The CEO of Community Pharmacy England (CPE), Janet Morrison emphasised the transformative potential of the Pharmacy First initiative, signaling a significant shift in healthcare funding and recognition of pharmacies’ integral role in primary care.

Despite challenges such as capacity and IT issues, Morrison expressed optimism, citing efforts to educate and prepare pharmacies for the evolving landscape.

Discussing about the ongoing community pharmacy contractual framework (CPCF) for 2024/25 negotiations , Morrison underscored the pressing need for realignment and increased funding, advocating for a paradigm shift that aligns with the evolving demands and contributions of community pharmacies.

pharmacy business conference 2024
Still of attendees at the Pharmacy Business Conference 2024

“We know that the current contract 8 billion is insufficient for the growing component of dispensing with duty. So, we have to have a significant realignment of the contracts… We’ve got to have no unfounded increase of activity,” she said.

She further emphasised the importance of demonstrating the value of pharmacy first services in relieving pressure on GP services and enabling higher acuity caseload management.

In a survey carried out by CPE on 2024 pharmacy pressure, 84 per cent of respondents expressed that the process is considerably prolonged due to diligent efforts in sourcing and procuring items at competitive prices.

Furthermore, they highlighted supplier and wholesaler issues as the foremost concern, ranking highest in terms of severity on their pressure list.

Moreover, with a staggering 94.7 per cent of respondents indicated that business costs have escalated significantly compared to the previous year.

Alarmingly, only 5 per cent reported their businesses as profitable, highlighting the pervasive financial challenges faced by the majority of respondents.

Exploring clinical governance, market growth, and digital marketing strategies

At ‘Pharmacy of Tomorrow’ conference, attendees also engaged in dynamic sessions covering a range of topics, from innovation in community pharmacy services to clinical governance and building OTC healthcare businesses.

The director of supplier relationships at IQVIA, Joanne Redding addressed critical issues facing the pharmacy sector, including supply chain disruptions and health inequalities.

Using a mix of proprietary datasets and NHS data, Redding analysed trends in the UK market, highlighting significant growth in both volume and value of medicines, particularly in retail.

She projected a compound annual growth rate of 5.9 per cent by 2026, reaching £36.4 billion.

Pharmacy business conference
Joanne Redding, Director, Supplier Relationships, IQVIA during her session on Pharmacy Market Dynamics and Challenges

Clinical governance emerged as a crucial aspect for ensuring safety and quality in service delivery, with Duncan Rudkin, chief executive, GPhC highlighted the significance of training, development, and patient engagement in achieving good clinical governance.

He said “safety, quality, clinical governance makes good business sense” and “pharmacy with good governance share ethos, continuous learning and person-centred care” for good clinical governance in pharmacy review”

While Saam Ali and Mark Hopkins discussed digital marketing emphasized the importance of content for pharmacies to build an online pharmacy service presence, Kavita Datar, a global expert from Haleon, illuminated the Pharmacy Business Conference with insights on leveraging personalized patient communication for enhanced pharmacy experiences.

The conference concluded with a panel debate led by Michael Holden, Associate Director of Pharmacy Complete, engaging pharmacy leaders on facilitating the future of pharmacy in the next 12-18 months.

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Current Issue June 2024

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