‘Developing a pharmacy business fit for the future’ was the theme around which the dynamic pharmacy couple from south of England, James Tibbs and Shikha Rishi, were engaged in a conversation with conference chair Mike. While Shikha Rishi said she lost her passion for community pharmacy a while ago and found her “niche doing private services” instead, her husband, James Tibbs, said he “absolutely loves” the sector and was passionate about it.
Both are leading lights in their own respective fields and have achieved tremendous success in recent years. Shikha is a sought-after medical aesthetics practitioner in Bournemouth. Her patients fly in from places as far away as Portugal. Her advice to anyone who wants to go down the aesthetics route is to get trained as an independent prescriber.
“The first thing is to get qualified as an independent prescriber. It makes things so much easier. It gives you total control. Although personally I don’t like the idea of relying on another person for my patients, someone who wants to embark on the journey can also think of partnering with someone who is a qualified practitioner.”
But she warned that the courses could be a bit “boring” particularly for someone who’s already been trained as a pharmacist, after learning so much at university and the pre-reg years and then working as a professional.
When asked which aesthetics training course, she recommended SkinViva, based in Manchester because they give the best support and have the best teachers. She said they are also very structured and “discourage you from doing everything very quickly.”
It is important, she said, to learn how to do one thing at a time to build confidence. “Do not rush into one of those short courses where learn to do everything in just a few days.”
She admitted though that her pharmacy background has helped: “More people come to you because you are a pharmacist.” Although pharmacists are not good at “selling”, you’ve got to get out there.” It can take some time to get the traffic, she uses social media to promote her business.
“Show what you offer, what you have achieved, what you can do. It’s good to look around and see what others are doing and it’s good to be competitive, but you need to know what works for you.”
As a health professional, Shikha said it’s very important to ensure each patient is given enough consultation time “because patients deserve that time, they need that support.”
“You tend to lose sight of it when you have twenty people waiting to have something checked,” Shikha reminded the conference audience, recalling her own time in her parent’s pharmacy.
James has turned around his father-in-law Ashok Rishi’s A.R. Pharmacy since taking over as its management about six years ago. He used his experience of working in a large multiple to ramp up the services in the pharmacy and within a year A.R. became a Healthy Living Pharmacy – the first independent to be recognised as one in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight LPC – with eight consultation rooms and over thirty new services.
It’s rapid growth, reputation and profitability has largely been down to James’ extreme dedication to and passion for the profession as well his “as faith in ability”. It’s now a health hub for the local community. The travel health clinic is a huge success, and so is a diabetes testing service that has been enjoying years of success.
“I do a local area needs assessment and speak to the clinical commissioning group to find out the unmet needs,” James said. That allows him to take his services to the local surgeries who then refer their patients to his pharmacy.
“Flu jabs last year, for example, was very last minute. I learned a lot in terms of having a good conversation with the local surgery about it.”
James said the new community pharmacy contract meant that “more clinical services will be the future of community pharmacy.” He’s particularly excited about the Pharmacy Quality Payments as well as taking on the role of managing patients who have long-term medical conditions.
“Think outside the box, keep remembering what you can do and explore what you can do with it,” he said.
His idea was that the more services pharmacies were able to offer, the more patients will be likely to come to them for their healthcare needs. He was adamant that providing more services was the way forward for community pharmacy.
“Engage GP surgery immediately as the community pharmacist consultation service kicks off very soon. It’s massive and we need to take ownership. Offer to do something straight away, don’t wait for them to come to you as that may never happen. Make them send patients to James or Shikha next door. To maintain that relationship will be so important.”
“And private services – of all sorts, people still go travelling, they still find the money to have the botox, etc.”
This article also appears in the November issue of Pharmacy Business.