How are independent pharmacies preparing themselves for the digital future? Around 300 pharmacists discussed this question with experts at the PHOENIX Pharmacy Partnership conference in Berlin on 24th October 2017. This network is the umbrella organization for the PHOENIX group’s 12 existing pharmacy cooperation programs in 15 countries. Over 9,000 independent pharmacies are members of Europe’s largest network for pharmacy cooperation.
“Great steps are being taken towards digitization in the healthcare industry. New players are appearing on the market, and pressure on healthcare budgets is increasing. It is therefore essential that pharmacies move even closer to their customers”, remarked Oliver Windholz, CEO of the PHOENIX group. He believes access to digitization will be crucial for success.
Futurists like Bertalan Meskó and experts from the pharmaceutical industry and trade agreed that bricks-and-mortar dispensing pharmacies would remain, but that their range, services, and communication channels would change significantly, with a move towards more intensive and individual patient care.
The pharmacy of the future would become a “point of care”, a central hub for local healthcare. The focus would be on personalized care for every patient – for example in dosing the active ingredients of a drug. The pharmacy could use digital channels to advise the customer on every aspect of healthcare.
The slogan for the two-day event was “Your Access to Success”. “The PHOENIX pharmacy cooperation programs in Europe are an ideal platform to help individual pharmacies to compete successfully in a rapidly changing world. After all, together we are stronger”, continued Windholz.
“At PHOENIX, independent pharmacists have a voice. This is why we established an Advisory Board to determine areas of focus. We collaborate openly and transparently”, said Sara Zucca, a pharmacist from Milan. She is one of the twelve members of the PHOENIX Pharmacy Partnership’s European Advisory Board. Over the past year, the network’s agenda has covered the expansion of loyalty programs, category management, and digital marketing in the member programs.
“aptieka 1" is the leading partnership organization of independent pharmacies in Latvia, which since 2004 has united 90 large and small pharmacies in Riga and other cities and regions”, shares Aleks Borodulins, Head of Sales Tamro Latvia. Aptieka 1 Advisory board of pharmacists consisting of 12 pharmacists, has been set up to make the decisions necessary for the development of the partnership program. All “aptieka1” Pharmacies are part of PHOENIX Pharmacy Partnership. PHOENIX Pharmacy Partnership helps pharmacies to keep their individuality on the market while providing support for day-to-day business operations by facilitating the conditions for providing the medicines in the range they need, and providing other types of support that allows more time to be spent with patients and improve the quality of service provision. Pharmacies can get better support from wholesaler for operational activities, product placement, systems for delivering e-prescriptions, category management and other activities, like campaigns and self-service. In PHOENIX Pharmacy Partnerships European Advisory Board Latvia is represented by “aptieka1” pharmacist Aija Stucka, who is the owner of Smiltenes pharmacies”.
A delegation from Latvia consisted of 11 pharmacists and 4 representatives from Tamro Latvia. 10 pharmacists from the “aptieka1” partnership program Advisory Board: Aija Stucka from Smiltenes pharmacies, Inese Vīriņa from Liepājas Centra pharmacy, Iveta Līdumniece from Piņķu pharmacy, Arta Kārkliņa from Krustpils pharmacy in Jekabpils, Sarmīte Freiberga from Brocēni pharmacy, Irēna Dudzinska from Valka pharmacy, Anita Labada from Stacijas pharmacie in Limbaži, Viktoria Aļeiņikova from Victoria pharmacy in Varakļāni, Līga Dzirkale - Rozina from Valdekas pharmacy in Jelgava, Valda Ozoliņa from Sarkandaugavas pharmacy in Riga and owner of 11 independent pharmacies Agnese Ritene, pharmacist from Tukuma Centra pharmacy.
"There were 5 partner pharmacies representatives from Estonia in the conference as well”, Mare Parve, Head of Sales Tamro Estonia adds: Hiie Päit fromÜlejõe Apteek (OÜ Lartim), Andre Vetka from Marja Apteek, Kaja Stepanova from Kalamaja Apteek, Varje Haavel from Niidu Apteek and Tiina Salusaar from Kunda Apteek”. Mare clearly sees the benefits of the cooperation as the program responds to local market requirements and exploit transnational synergies through the European network. It offers members direct access to sales and marketing services, purchasing advantages, and the opportunity to exchange opinions and experiences with members from other countries on issues affecting the future of their industry. Individual pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers are able to benefit from tailor-made solutions across Europe.
Positive signals emerged from the conference: participants stressed the need to continue developing their businesses – including through the use of digital opportunities. They want to work together to confront the increasingly tough competition, exchange knowledge, and drive forward innovations for their business and patients.