The private pharmacy business that's ‘breaking the mould’
The team at REMEDI HEALTH in Winchester have turned the traditional community pharmacy model "on its head" – and patients are taking notice
For years, Deborah Evans dreamed of setting up her own pharmacy and clinic. In 2021, she finally turned this ambition into a reality when she set up the private pharmacy REMEDI HEALTH in Winchester, where she is clinical director and the superintendent pharmacist.
Deborah's business model "reverses the traditional community pharmacy approach", she says. With no NHS contract, it is clinical services, rather than dispensing, that are placed front and centre at REMEDI HEALTH. The private healthcare business places a particular emphasis on collaboration with other healthcare providers, having forged partnerships with local specialist consultants, private doctors and pathology laboratories, among others.
This innovative approach helped the 12-strong team at REMEDI HEALTH stand out from the crowd and win the Business Innovation of the Year category at the C+D Awards 2022. Its business model was applauded by the judges for “breaking the mould” and showing what the future of community pharmacy could look like.
The business’s impressive portfolio of services currently includes allergy and food intolerance testing, an ear health service and a specialist menopause clinic, with plans to expand the offering in the future.
And patients are voting with their feet; REMEDI HEALTH provided clinical services to over 10,000 patients in its first year, which contributed to an impressive seven-figure turnover.
Deborah talks to C+D about the ethos behind REMEDI HEALTH and the response she's seen to the venture’s holistic approach to healthcare so far.
Tell us more about you
I've been a pharmacist for over 36 years and initially [did my] pre-registration in industry and hospital. I worked in community pharmacy straight after qualifying [at] an independent pharmacy in the east end of London and then went on to manage regional outlets of a company that went on to be acquired by Lloydspharmacy. [Next], I joined the industry and worked as a representative and then GSK for 12 years.
During COVID-19, I set up REMEDI HEALTH to undertake some COVID-19 testing in the first instance from a pop-up site, and then in December 2021, I opened REMEDI HEALTH as we know it now. It is a registered pharmacy. We don't have an NHS contract. We're a private pharmacy and we run a huge range of clinical services.
What does REMEDI HEALTH offer?
I've flipped the model on its head. We've opened a clinic and a centre for health where people can walk in and have appointments, but they can be cared for from when they first come in, right the way through to when they leave. Medicines can be part of the solution. That includes a very thorough consultation and diagnostics, if required. It then leads to diagnosis or referral and recommendations. That will lead to medicine supply if required.
So, rather than thinking of the traditional pharmacy model, which is medicines and medicines supply for the NHS, we're serving our private clients, but wanted to be able to offer medicines as part of that.
Throughout my career, I've always felt that collaboration, even if you're competing with people, is really, really important. So, we've set up partnerships and are developing relationships and collaborations with a range of different organisations, ranging from the NHS through to private doctors, consultants, dermatologists, eye surgeons and a range of different private hospitals.
We partner with a range of different organisations. Because for them, having good quality, reliable pharmaceutical care as part of their service to clients is also a really important part of what they're delivering, and we can support them in that.
What services do you provide?
We're a private pharmacy, so we can respond to private prescriptions that come in through the door. And we have a number of private practices around here. So, we do respond to those and of course we offer people support around minor conditions for walk-ins and pharmacy medicine (P) sales and general sale list medicine (GSL) sales. And we keep some skincare and some supplements. So, the normal things you would expect from a pharmacy.
We curate very carefully the products we keep. We don't want to keep a huge amount of stock for a number of reasons. One, we don't have the space, but also we offer tailored advice to people when they come in. So, it's making sure that we keep a sensible stock. Stock is money, and also we don't want clutter.
My scope of practice is menopause so we're now ramping up our menopause service. We're seen locally as a menopause expert and our GP colleagues refer people to us. We dispense lots of prescriptions for menopause, but we also run full consultations as well as prescribing in that area.
We do lots of allergy testing, We do food intolerance, We do a lot of dermatology consultations. So, we've now got a skin doctor working with us. We've also got a nutritional therapist who helps. We do a fair amount around gut health.
Tell us about winning a C+D Award
Since winning the award, we’ve continued to expand and grow our services. We’ve increased the penetration of our existing services and taken on a nutritional therapist and skin doctor.
So, onwards and upwards and we will continue to innovate. We rarely say no. I can’t imagine a situation where we would say no and can’t remember the last time we said no to somebody, unless there was a legal, regulatory or ethical reason to.
The C+D Award has got pride of place. Our clients see our award and they're really interested and ask what we won it for. They're very proud of us. We are all local, so people are interested in what we're doing, and they feel part of our success.
We're constantly reviewing what we do and how we're doing it. We're always looking at operational excellence, we’re also looking at what services we offer [and] we're constantly listening to our clients.
I've had an interest in work in the area of sexual and reproductive health, so immediately I'll be looking to extend what we do there. I'm currently working with a pharmaceutical company partner to support them in the contraceptive implant, and I'd like to be the first pharmacist to be delivering that in a community pharmacy setting.
We want to develop our pharmacogenomics service further to help with medicines optimisation. We will be thinking about how we engage with the NHS, not to have an NHS contract per se in its traditional sense, but there [may be] ways we can engage with local commissioners around some of the gaps they've got. So, lots of things.
The C+D Awards 2023 will take place at The Brewery in London on September 6. Could you or one of your colleagues be crowned as a C+D Award winner? Check out all the categories for the 2023 awards and enter today.