Publication Date 24/02/2011         Volume. 3 No. 2   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

Welcome to the March 2011 edition of i2P.
The month of February has seen free enterprise in the pharmaceutical industry breaking out of the mould that is regulated health and upsetting any semblance of balance within community pharmacy.
Government negotiated price reductions with Big Pharma collided head-on with the new business model from Pfizer Direct and its potential to destabilise the entire supply chain process and the supply of medicines under the PBS.
This process has been described in eloquent detail by Neil Retallick, in his article “New landscape, new directions, new Government role in community pharmacy?”

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Getting an Edge in Pharmacy Design

Peter Sayers

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Peter Sayers is vitally concerned about pharmacy professional practice - its innovation, its research and development, and its delivery to create an ongoing revenue stream. Delivery of healthcare is increasingly involved with Information Technology systems. All perspectives in IT must be considered for the impact on pharmacy practice and its viability.

Existing pharmacy owners, particularly those with the experience of having upgraded their pharmacy design and presentation (with fittings to match the markets being serviced), are well aware that an internal change will attract customer/patient attention and a general sales and profitability increase will result.
However, I believe that pharmacy has reached the end of an era in terms of community pharmacy presentation(it died at the crossroads some years back) and pharmacists, despite the criticisms that have been heaped upon them by other health professionals, have been resilient and have tried to work their way through the maze of political and professional problems that hold back new creative and remunerative practices.

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One of the constant criticisms faced is the lack of patient privacy when providing consultations of a professional nature, also the lack of documentation and due deliberation when prescribing for a patient.
Financial restrictions, often delivered to pharmacists through government policies, make it difficult to fit out pharmacies to accommodate changes in service delivery.
New design technology has recently emerged that could be adapted for pharmacies without requiring a major change in layout or a major investment in furniture and fittings.

The design research was conducted for a pizza restaurant. Dispensing pizzas is not that dissimilar to the dispensing of medicines.
When you view these new innovative designs (below) and mentally substitute a pharmacy application in the same type of setting, it is not hard to realise that these designs are a genuine 21st century advance for retail product and service delivery.

According to a new research published in the Food Quality and Preference Journal, extremely loud background noise can make food taste bland. This is because a high level of unpleasant sound decreases the sensitivity of a person’s palate and this makes food less appealing to him/her than it is. Perhaps this explains why airlines often receive "bland meals" as one of their regular complaints because passengers often have to put up with the loud roars of aircraft engines. In addition, the study found that the converse was also true and that enjoyable music tends to enhance people’s eating experience.

The lead researcher, Dr. Andy Woods from Unilever and the University of Manchester, said that with their study, it could be possible to create the perfect sound that can enhance any meal.

The eating experience is a multi-sensory event, as recently illustrated by these studies into the impact of sound on the taste of food.

So it is also possible that the other senses of sight, hearing, smell, and touch might also be enhanced under the same presentation.

Could this be a pathway to enhance patient literacy and improve the delivery of pharmacist counselling in what is generally a non-private, congested and busy environment?

Well nobody has yet reached that point to determine what the ideal environment for a community pharmacy should be, but it should not be too difficult to take a punt on the ‘Living Lab’  that has been established in the Richmond branch of Pizza Express, London. The spirit of experimentation is alive, and apart from novel additions to the menu, it is the diverse team of people formed up to investigate and recommend appropriate change e.g. people from media agency labs.

Imagine the setting illustrated in the photographs below as part of a pharmacy design.

The counselling (eating) area is of pleasing appearance and computers are strategically placed within that environment (they are actually menus that can be operated by customers that deliver orders direct to the kitchen).

Think about replacing the software for menus with software to read e-prescriptions, possibly embedded in a smart card or other readable device.

Just that innovation has the potential to considerably reduce operating overheads and develop roles for clinical assistants operating in the front of shop (maybe a range of pre-registration pharmacists attracting a training subsidy?).

The key factor here is the special light fittings overhead that create a level of soundproofing i.e. the light actually muffles sound so that people seated on the adjacent lounge are unable to hear the conversation taking place beside them.

Swedish lighting manufacturer Ateljé Lyktan’s latest venture is utilised in the above setting as an interesting dual purpose lamp entitled ‘Hood’. (also see images below)

Hood displays the fine Swedish tradition of flat packed aesthetically pleasing furnishings. Intended as a modular and scalable centre of illumination this lamp shade aims at a similar effect as parabolic conversation booths but with more care for textile aesthetics.

Designed to be both a light source and a sound barrier, Hood forms a halo over the table, catching loose sentences in its thick felt lining.

The light is LED, previously developed under the brand Ogle.

Looking at the Pizza Kitchen (below), you don't need a great deal of imagination to visualise it as a dispensary.

The central oven could be replaced with a robotic dispensing system, the left hand side could be the slow moving items, while the right hand side could be fitted for compounding, with the room at the back serving as an area to pack dose administration aids.

The circular panels above represent variations of flat-surfaced Hood lights finished in felt of various colours, still combining illumination and sound-proofing.

These innovations potentially solve one of the major problems inherent in pharmacy – practical patient privacy. A solution of this type can provide part of the infrastructure environment to develop professional services in a standard pharmacy setting.

This could be just the “edge” needed to beat the future competition.

Pictured on the right is the flat-pack light section .

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