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Is pharmacy facing a survival of the fittest?

Delegates at the Numark conference were offered pragmatic advice for surviving the coming months, says Annabelle Collins

‘Survival of the fittest’, the tagline for Numark’s 2017 conference, underpins the reality for many contractors at the moment. The government’s brutal pharmacy cuts are snapping at the heels of many an independent pharmacist. The fear is if you stop performing, you could be one of the first to succumb.

But speakers at the conference in Cape Town this week encouraged delegates to view this threat differently. Instead of recoiling, they implored Numark members to focus on quality and how to maximise the existing potential of their businesses. Examples of best practice were offered – ranging from how best to organise your shelves for maximum impact to getting to grips with sales figures to increase your over-the-counter (OTC) profit margin.

Hub-and-spoke dispensing dominated the debate over the two days. In his opening speech, Numark managing director John D’Arcy encouraged delegates not to dismiss the controversial dispensing model as the territory of the multiples alone. He argued there would be a workable solution for independents too – but without losing the all-important patient-contact element of pharmacy’s offering.

Other speakers, including Phoenix UK's Steve Anderson, encouraged delegates to consider the potential offered by hub-and-spoke. The message was: it’s coming, so don’t be afraid.

Technology was the big theme on day two of the conference. Again, contractors were told the solution for a more efficient business was at their fingertips. The ongoing patient record debate was even touched on – with system supplier EMIS Health’s community pharmacy managing director Ian Taylor telling the room he believes the only way for pharmacies to truly be viewed as healthcare providers is to have their own patient record.

Rather than emphasising that tough times are ahead – something contractors are all too aware of – delegates were encouraged to step out of their comfort zones, and remain one step ahead of the cuts.

Annabelle Collins is C+D's deputy news editor. Catch up with all of her coverage from the Numark conference with C+D's Storify here.


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