Publication Date 01/12/2009         Volume. 1 No. 7   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the December 2009 edition of i2p - Information to Pharmacists E-Magazine.
When i2P first began in February 2000, it was decided that a fortnightly publication might prove to be the optimum publishing cycle.
This thought was soon dispelled as it was found that having sufficient content to maintain this cycle became a problem.
Oh for those quieter times!
The cycle then became monthly and has been maintained up to now.
The problem is now coping with the volume of news and opinion that is generated on a daily basis.
Very much the reverse of the year 2000 - a statement for our time and how the pace of pharmacy life has increased.

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Advancing Self Care

Neil Johnston

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Neil Johnston is a pharmacist who trained as a management consultant. He was the first consultant to service the pharmacy profession and commenced practice as a full time consultant in 1972, specialising in community pharmacy management, pharmacy systems, preventive medicine and the marketing of professional services. He has owned, or part-owned a total of six pharmacies during his career, and for a decade spent time both as a clinical pharmacist and Chief Pharmacist in the public hospital system. He has been editor of i2P since 2000.

Imagine a pharmacy that had a range of eye catching kiosks that utilised easy to use touch screen technology.
Not passive kiosks, but kiosks that are interactive with customers/patients to efficiently provide a perceived need.
It’s not a new idea, but the marketing of health care through kiosks certainly represents an organised method of transferring information to customers/patients and assisting them to make good health decisions.
One current form of kiosk that is beginning to take hold in Europe and the US is the vision kiosk.

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The kiosk includes an eye chart and vision health information, along with lists of local eye doctors and optometrists (some pay for preferred listings) and messages from sponsoring partners such as contact lens manufacturers. In addition, the kiosk also presents an opportunity for customers to talk to the pharmacists more often and to purchase eye-care products in nearby OTC departments.

The strategy is to convert customers to patients.

A sizable percentage of the population has never had an eye exam, so this may help them with their eye health.

In a recent survey, more than half (54.6 percent) of those surveyed reported receiving an eye exam once every two to three years, and 6.2 percent reported receiving an eye exam only after four or more years, or "whenever needed."

Cross-merchandising and marketing opportunities can be explored with the kiosks including OTC eye-care products, such as reading glasses and eye drops.

Blood pressure represents another type of kiosk opportunity that also generates customer interest and interaction.
The introduction of electronic blood pressure machines into pharmacy was originally done in kiosk format and was very successful in generating fees and referrals to doctors by pharmacists.

Well trained clinical assistants can supervise and control most kiosk functions.

At the centre of most kiosks is a touch screen computer.

For the majority of kiosk applications, touch technology is the first choice for the user interface. Indeed, it could be argued that touch technology has been largely responsible for the success of many kiosks since the touch interface is universal and can be used by anyone, regardless of language, education or socioeconomic and cultural background. However, over the years a number of different touch technologies have emerged and just randomly choosing any of them will not necessarily result in a successful project. Many self-service terminals and kiosks are high-risk business projects and could fail at the pilot stage through poor implementation or wrong choice of technology.

Over the last four decades, touch technology has gone from technology restricted to high-end, high-value applications such as air traffic control towers to mainstream personal computing with touchscreens now appearing on the desktop and lately the mobile phone industry which has adopted touch technology with a vengeance. Kiosks for public use have always been a leading application area for touchscreens as the technology is uniquely suited to making a complex computer interface simple to use by anyone.

Technology-wise, there is a wide range of options for designers each with its own particular strengths.

Apart from imparting information and education to consumers, kiosks can be applied for other purposes.

One useful purpose is “queue-busting” and one has only to check out the local Road Transport Authority office or the Centrelink office and be amazed at the lack of queues and quiet efficiency that has replaced chaos and confusion.

Kiosks have been utilised to schedule client appointments with actual service officers being decentralised around the total office, removing congestion and aggregation of numbers of people.

Perhaps this is an idea for use in a dispensary, or at least the area immediately in front of the dispensary. It is possible that patients could be trained (or assisted) to use a kiosk to input all their details and be given some form of priority dispensing.

This type of operation could definitely ease peak events in the dispensing production line, while simultaneously reducing costs.

Clinical assistants would need to be on hand to initially persuade patients to utilise the technology and then to answer any questions that may arise from the interaction.

Remember, patient waiting time (as judged by the patient) begins when prescription details have been imparted to the pharmacy – in this case to one or more dispensary kiosks. Patients will very quickly gain the impression of a speedy and efficient dispensing system without the need to compromise safety.

Kiosks represent an opportunity to spearhead a profit centre, provided it is well thought out.

The design must be compact, eye catching and have an array of information and directional signage for customers/patients to interact with the kiosk with minimal need for staff.

But well trained and qualified staff should be on hand to educate and assist.

The kiosk focuses attention on the goods and services available and assists in the referral to other health practitioners, if necessary.

A variety of kiosks can be implemented in a store layout to disperse customers/patients across the full area of a pharmacy – they are store directors and they can convert low sale products into higher performers just because of the traffic flow generated.

And they represent a method for the systematic distribution of information – the core currency of pharmacy.

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