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The feature articles below are "opinion" pieces and reflect the views of the individual authors. They are not the views of P/L, its directors or editorial group unless explicitly stated to be so.


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Nurse Practitioners - the Revive Clinic in-pharmacy experience :: Louise Stewart : 9/11/2010 : From 1 November 2010 nurse practitioners have been given access to Medicare funding in treating and referring patients. Nurse practitioners have had prescribing rights for the past five years. This recent change has simply allowed nurse practitioners access to Commonwealth funding to ensure equity of access to services. Any prescriptions written will now be eligible for PBS funding.

AusPharm took the opportunity of this major change in funding one aspect of healthcare delivery in Australia, to talk with Louise Stewart, CEO of Revive Clinics, currently the largest employer of nurse practitioners in Australia. The change is good news for those such as the Revive Clinics that have already demonstrated the success of the in-pharmacy, fee-for-service health delivery business model by attracting up to 35 patients a day at some locations, and that was before access to Medicare or PBS funding.   More... premium

Mark Nicholson on customer service, premium pricing and real growth :: Mark Nicholson : 2/11/2010 : With Spring all is new again, including a minority Labor government hamstrung by the support of independents. Generally you would expect this type of government to struggle to create meaningful change as disaffected minority interest groups are potentially disproportionately represented.

But while only time will tell if this translates negatively for our national interests it should prove favourable for the pharmacy industry as it hopefully will ensure that no new remuneration shrinking initiatives (excluding the “MoU” which was a deal done pre-election) created by bureaucrats are capable of enlisting majority support from a legislative perspective.

And just as well, given recent months have seen many retailers including pharmacies experiencing their worst growth results in memory (JB Hi-FI being one notable exception). While many reasons are cited, including the GFC and the US’s inability to recover from it, slowing growth in China and last year’s stimulus package not being replaced, there has been very little recognition that customers’ purchasing decisions are driven by choice just as much as circumstance.   More... premium

Marketing Tools - the 4Ps move aside for SIVA :: Robin Tang : 28/10/2010 : Robin Tang is the Director of Empowerconsul, an independent pharmacy consulting business that seeks to empower independent pharmacies with competitive advantages in the current pharmacy landscape. He is also the fulltime pharmacy manager of Brisbane's Runcorn Plaza Pharmacy.

In his first article for AusPharm. Robin explains the shift in marketing lingo from the conventional and supply-focused "4Ps", to the more customer-oriented "SIVA".

"Management guru, Peter Drucker advocates that marketing is everything and I could not agree more. The successful marketers seem to be able to permeate marketing throughout the entire organization, becoming the focus and core of the business. After all, the success of business starts and ends with customers. One thing that resonates most with me about marketing is the importance of understanding what the customers want and being able to deliver it, and this is not just restricted to the marketers.   More... premium

The Customers Might Be Satisfied But Pharmacists' Incomes Are Under Attack :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 26/10/2010 : Chemist Warehouse topping the most current Roy Morgan customer satisfaction survey of pharmacies, has been a subject of recent interest among AusPharmListers. However Stephen Greenwood, Consultant with Greenwood Government Relations, suggests that given the high satisfaction levels found amongst pharmacies across the survey "the more interesting question is why does pharmacy do so well in these surveys? It must be doing something right to be so trusted and loved. Only nurses rate higher in other surveys perhaps ominously so, given that nurse practitioners can now also prescribe almost anything except cancer drugs.

But back to pharmacy: is it because of good service, greater professionalism and individual attention that we love our pharmacists so? Well all of these play a part but clearly the main feature is that pharmacists are trusted. Why is that so? It’s because of their knowledge and privileged position in the healthcare chain. Interestingly, people do prefer lower prices but when it comes to customer satisfaction, people rarely question the pharmacists’ authority or the advice they are given. They still hold their local chemist in high regard. But maybe that’s all changing...

Pharmacy is under attack on pricing on all fronts – from within the profession and from without." Read more from Stephen Greenwood on the big picture challenges that pricing pressures on medications will bring in Australia, and recent opinions voiced on this in federal parliament by Andrew Laming MP.   More... premium

Opioids and mandatory components of CPD :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 19/10/2010 : In his regular column for AusPharm, PSA national president Warwick Plunkett considers the issue of opioid misuse, and how pharmacists can be better equipped in their frontline role in what has become not just a clinical, but also a social, issue...

"Some recent media reports on the misuse of prescription drugs have highlighted the need for quick and quite dramatic action to stop, or at least limit, such misuse. The issue was the subject of a Four Corners report which detailed the market for the illicit use of opioids - a problem that has existed for years as there are very few ways to control an illicit trade of Schedule 8 medications in the community once they have been dispensed.

The Four Corners program also looked at the potential inappropriate use of the medications by some patients, the growth in the number of drug dealers and the challenges in treating chronic pain sufferers without adequate specialist training of health professionals and access to pain specialists and specialist centres, especially in regional areas of Australia. Many of these problems are outside the control of pharmacy, but the report has turned the spotlight on the role we can play and on the need to have health professionals trained in the management of chronic and acute pain."   More... premium

The Great Debate - arguing the case for evidence based products :: Ken Harvey : 14/10/2010 : As a prelude to The Great Debate at PAC10, on the theme " Pharmacists Should Only Sell Evidence Based Products", Ken Harvey responds to Gerald Quigley's case against the topic, published in AusPharm earlier this week.

As public health physician with an interest in evidence-based medicine, Ken outlines his approach to a common scenario - a patient seeking symptomatic relief for a benign early prosate condition, which a doctor is not yet ready to treat.   More... premium

Let's find the evidence at PAC! :: Gerald Quigley : 12/10/2010 : Warming to the theme of PAC10's Great Debate about whether pharmacists should only sell evidence based products, Gerald Quigley writes "I’m puzzled. We seem to have backed ourselves, or we have perhaps been manoeuvered effectively, into a bit of a corner. Why do we now regard ourselves as minor players in the health team?

We seem to respond now to somebody else’s instructions. Dispense this, supply that, instruct this way, review that way! Why can’t we take responsibility for health strategies which we ourselves have initiated?"   More... premium

Owning Up :: Wendy Morton : 5/10/2010 : The lack of a publicly accessible Australian register, or even a series of publicly accessible State based registers, of pharmacy owners is something of a puzzlement.

In today's AusPharm feature article Wendy Morton takes a look at the tangled web this is.

"Given all the collective posturing of our profession regarding medicines not being ordinary items of commerce, and frequent allusions to the perils that surely lay in wait for society should we happen to sail off the edge of the current map (or Road Map?) into deregulated waters, does it not seem just a wee bit strange the topography of our existing ownership structures should seemingly be so resolutely and deliberately shrouded in fog?"   More... premium

Finding More Time in Your Day... a Simple 3 Step System Guaranteed to Work! :: Vanessa Lontos : 30/9/2010 : There is really only one major cause of stress, exhaustion and overwhelm in most pharmacies. There is only one thing preventing growth and progress. There is really only one thing that seems to be holding everyone back from being successful business owners, managers, pharmacists and pharmacy assistants.

If you were to guess what this one thing might be, I’m sure you’re response would be “There just isn’t enough time to do everything we need to.” After many years of working in pharmacy myself I can appreciate this and have myself said the exact same words (over and over again), however I recently asked myself the question – is it really time that we don’t have or could it be something else?   More... premium

Making Medication Reviews More Efficient :: Peter Tenni : 28/9/2010 : Dr Peter Tenni is a managing director of Medscope™ Pty Ltd, developers of the Medication Review Mentor™ system.

It has been almost 10 years since Home Medicine Reviews (HMRs) were introduced and it is interesting to read some of the recent posts of the difficult early days and the excitement regarding the potential changes in business rules.

In this article, I want to outline the business case for doing more HMRs and introduce Medscope’s MRM, some software that introduces significant efficiencies into the process.

Please note, today's feature is available to ALL AusPharm members, not just our premium members. (Click here).   More... premium

Pharmacy's agenda firmly back on the table :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 21/9/2010 : "Has there ever been a more exciting time for industry bodies like the Pharmacy Guild and the Pharmaceutical Society to assert the interests of their members than in the current political climate? A hung parliament, an unelected Prime Minister scraping into power and an unelected Coalition Leader both without a mandate, a resurgent Green dominated Senate from 2011 and a country being run by a rag tag bunch of independents with Senator Fielding calling the tune until next July."

On AusPharm today, Stephen Greenwood shares his insights on the new political landscape and what it means for pharmacy.   More... premium

Adding direct payment to pharmacists to HMR remuneration model :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 14/9/2010 : Home Medicines Reviews have been continued under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement, albeit with some mooted changes which have yet to be clearly defined. But one area that could be open to change is that of the remuneration structure, and the processes involved.

At present, payments for an HMR are made to GPs through the Medicare Benefits Schedule and to community pharmacies under the Community Pharmacy Agreement. A section 90 community pharmacy must be approved by Medicare Australia as an HMR service provider before lodging claims for HMRs, thus pointing the way to an area in this process which is clearly ripe for reform.

Under the present system, payment for undertaking an HMR cannot be made directly to an accredited pharmacist. This has to change if we are to better utilise the skills of pharmacists in this area, and improve the wellbeing of consumers.

To achieve such change we have to develop and implement an acceptable mechanism to enable payment to be made directly to the accredited pharmacist undertaking the HMR. This will require a good deal of goodwill on the part of community pharmacists and pharmacists undertaking the reviews.   More... premium

Memories of the Facilitator Program :: Alan Freedman : 2/9/2010 :

Here's another in our series looking back on the beginnings of Home Medicines Review in Australia, this time through the eyes of former Victorian MMR State Facilitator.

"The commencement of the MMR program was a strange experience for pharmacists as we were embarking on a journey that involved a more clinical, collaborative association with the GPs and furthermore, we were going to be paid for it! Nowhere in the world had a system quite like the HMR program been established for us to model our own on, and we were indeed charting new territories in the doctor/pharmacist relationship at the community level.

But as strange as it was going to be for accredited pharmacists to provide a written clinical report to GPs on the medication management of their patients, it was much more so for the facilitators engaged to roll out the program."   More... premium

The top 7 marketing mistakes that pharmacists make & how to avoid them :: Vanessa Lontos : 24/8/2010 : Have you noticed a slump in your sales? Are you having trouble establishing or differentiating your pharmacy in the market place? Or maybe you’re established, but you just can’t seem to get the word out about new products and services? If these situations sound familiar, then your marketing may be to blame.

The days of relying solely on catalogue promotions, newspaper advertisements and colourful front-window displays are over. In order to grow your businesses in a way that provides consistent results it’s important to appreciate the importance of marketing.

In this second article from CreatingMe Consulting's Vanessa Lontos, we look at the common marketing mistakes pharmacists make, how to avoid them, and how to grow the marketing relationships needed for a healthier business.   More... premium

Down to the Wire in the Federal Election :: Stephen G. Greenwood : 19/8/2010 : Stephen Greenwood gives AusPharm a final pre-election overview of how the needs of pharmacy are sitting with the different political parties, and how the election is shaping up in the last days of the campaign.

Once again pharmacy has managed to get undertakings out of both political parties which underpin the stability and certainty of pharmacy practice. In the current environment where both major parties have been reluctant to make any policy announcements or visionary projections, the commitments given to pharmacy are real achievements.

    More... premium

Australia Post and Supply of S8 Medications :: Andrew Roberts : 19/8/2010 : Andrew Roberts, an Auspharmlister working in remote Australia, writes of his encounters, pharmaceutical and otherwise, through his blog, BiteTheDust. Following on from a discussion thread on AusPharmList earlier this year about the problems of posting medications, Andrew has written a neat article capturing the issue and laws regarding posting schedule 8 medicines, which he shares here.

If you live out bush one of the few regular personal contacts you have is with the contractor providing a regular Australia Post, particularly if they arrive at your property by air. The Royal Flying Doctor Service may land regularly for a clinic or perhaps only visit when you are ill.

I want you to imagine that you or a loved one live out bush hundreds of kilometres from the nearest health service or hospital. Perhaps you are dying but want to do it pain free and with dignity at home in your remote community/station. Perhaps you are suffering from severe pain from an injury but you no longer need to be in hospital. Perhaps you have a child with behavioural problems and need a supply of dexamphetamine sent out regularly.

Well according to Australia Post it is just bad luck. They won’t send them to you.   More... premium

Stakeholders committed, but where are the individual pharmacists? :: PSA National President: Warwick Plunkett : 17/8/2010 : PSA President Warwick Plunkett urges individual pharmacists to participate in shaping the future of pharmacy...

The recent Future of Pharmacy’s Stakeholder Forum proved to be an invaluable exercise in focusing the attention of the major players in the profession on the subject of the future direction of pharmacy.

Perhaps just as importantly, the forum helped to focus our attention on how we can achieve these asipirational goals. The forum was convened by PSA after the release of our Issues Paper on the Future of Pharmacy and was designed to keep the momentum going and to spark further debate on the paper.

I have said before that this important paper is reliant on feedback from the profession so it was disappointing to see the results of a poll in AusPharmList last month which asked how many people had read the Issues Paper.   More... premium

Pharmacy Services under 5CPA - who wants them? :: Stuart Baker : 16/8/2010 : Do you feel that you’re being badgered from many directions to undertake pharmacy services and if you don’t then community pharmacy is doomed? Stuart Baker shares his views on the value of the 5CPA remunerated pharmacy services.

Recently there have been a number of articles and discussion papers that have echoed that theme as indispensable to the future of pharmacy. Yet many of the services proposed have little or no demand from patients, and pharmacists have not been too keen on them either.

The remunerated pharmacy services under 5CPA are:

1. Fee-for-service: HMRs, RMMRs, MUR (the next stage of PMPs), and Diabetes.
2. Pharmacy Practice Incentives: Clinical Intervention program, Staged supply, Practice incentive and accreditation, and Dose Administration Aid service. (AJP Aug 2010, p.71)

Notice anything about this list?   More... premium

HMRs - a northern Tasmanian success story :: Anne Todd : 12/8/2010 : In today's follow up to our two pieces last week  (here and here  ) that told the story of the introduction of HMRs into Australian pharmacy / medicine, Anne Todd a Division of General Practice HMR Facilitator in Launceston, Tasmania tells her story.

"I remember my first practice visit as an HMR-NPS facilitator, nervous but confident in my new found knowledge of asthma treatments, excited about the potential for HMR. The response to HMR from those first visits were varied, GPs were interested but cautious about the pharmacist role in what with hindsight has been a groundbreaking initiative - the first of the many collaborative care models becoming common in general practice today."   More... premium

Call for intelligence & resilience over mandatory CPD :: John Chapman : 10/8/2010 : John Chapman has written to AusPharm before about the introduction of mandatory CPD for pharmacists. In the light of continuings posts to AusPharmList reflecting pharmacists' concerns and misunderstandings, in John's own words he shares his thoughts below with AusPharmListers... "once more, with feeling".

Panic is usually caused by certainty, or part-information. If one is certain that destruction is at hand (i.e. the enemy hordes are visible) then an appeal to a Higher Power may be the only avenue of assistance. Part-information is, however, another matter.

As pharmacists we seem to be detail-focused and time-poor. That’s an explosive mix. Those who are, or who feel they are, time-poor tend to skip the detail – and it’s all downhill from there.


The requirements are in line with, or less than, other professions...   More... premium

About this page 

This features page will be updated with new opinion pieces regularly. Unlike the hard copy publications that publish all their content once each week/fortnight/month we will publish on a rolling basis.

Got something to say? Fancy yourself as a features writer? 

At we are always on the lookout for people with an opinion to express. If you think you fit the bill, contact Mark Dunn to express an interest or to get further information.

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