You must raise your business game to survive in the new health service, says Protomed CEO Norman Niven (pictured, right)
There’s no turning back, folks. £40 million worth of cutbacks and the dissolution of PCTs are just some of the changes we have to contend with over the next few years. But behind all of this uncertainty is opportunity. This is the nudge pharmacists need to raise their game – a chance to revolutionise the pharmacy business model to make sure they don’t just survive the next three years, but grow. By shifting their income away from the NHS, pharmacists should aim to gain 50 per cent of their revenue from fee-for-service means by 2016.
With the role of GPs and primary carers morphing into that of a business manager, they will come to rely even more on pharmacists to advise patients on how to manage conditions and medication. But as the new system forces pharmacists to show a return on investment, it’s time to think beyond the community and re-consider the bottom line.
We’re all agreed, diversification is key, but pharmacists need to be careful about commercial avenues they venture into. As in any sector, uniqueness commands a premium. And that means offering what are truly pharmacy-only services and not getting dragged into schemes that any untrained wannabe can offer – screening comes readily to mind. Avoid putting all your eggs in one basket, yes, but be sure to put them in the right baskets.
“But how to reduce our reliance on the NHS,” I hear you cry? By thinking like an entrepreneur. Do what you do best. At school we had the three Rs, in pharmacy it’s the three Ms, managing dispensing, managing medication usage and monitoring patient compliance. These are truly pharmacy-only services that are marketable to the private sector. Collaborating with health insurance companies to monitor compliance and reduce claims, managing clinical trials for big pharma companies and running discharge programmes for hospitals – these all boost revenue alongside the business of dispensing medication. E-health is another as yet untapped service that pharmacy can and should take ownership of.
This is the biggest transformation in the NHS’s 63-year history. Pharmacy has shown time and time again it isn’t scared of change, and now’s the time to act so you come out of it with a clean bill of health.
Protomed designs and develops medication management solutions including flagship product Biodose, a monitored dosage system