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Earlier this month, I met with Blooms The Chemist, or Blooms, to speak with them about their experience with MedAdvisor, the difference it has made to their daily operations as well as the current industry climate and the opportunities and challenges that pharmacies face moving forward.
Blooms has been in the pharmaceutical industry for over four decades with over 2,000 staff over 100 stores nationwide. The pharmacy group was also one of the earliest adopters of the MedAdvisor software and the first pharmacy group to adopt a White Label feature.
When speaking on the motivation for joining MedAdvisor, Casey Shannon, a Professional Services Manager for Blooms for over a decade said, “ … we really were just looking for that one-stop-shop. So MedAdvisor really was an upgrade from our dated system, and it allowed us to seamlessly store and manage patient information.”
Wanting to hone in on their position as tech leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, Blooms adopted MedAdvisor across their network of stores. Delving into the emphasis both Bloom and MedAdvisor place on staying ahead of the field when it comes to technology and innovation, Shannon added,
“MedAdvisor as always a step in front of any other of the competitors in the market. So using the elements of the PlusOne dashboard, and now you've just recently got that AIR integration. It's just miles ahead and aligns with our strategies”
As of mid 2021, the group has around 38,000 app users, 112,000 items ordered and 33,000 services recorded so far this year.
When speaking on the benefits working with MedAdvisor has provided their network of pharmacies around Australia, the themes revolved around transparency, efficiency and experience, both between the pharmacy and customer and within the pharmacy and pharmacists.
“The patient's ability to have the scripts sitting in their phone, seeing what's available, being able to take that to the doctor and show when their scripts are running out, it's a true advantage for us,” explained Shannon.
Internally, that transparency has also been a game-changer.
Eric Chan, Head of Bloom Pharmacy explained, “It's about those efficiencies. It's that workflow that we're talking about ... We identified that there were so many discrepancies with each individual pharmacy, that we had to find a solution that everyone could get behind.”
“ … When we first took on board MedAdvisor, and we probably had about 70 or 80 stores back then … each individual pharmacy would have their own individual processes …,” Shannon recalled.
“... We just really wanted to provide our patients an end-to-end prescription support and healthcare service. For example, at the time, we didn't have any of our scripts on file patients. So now it's easy for us to hold those scripts in store. It's easier retrieval, and it makes it for an ideal customer experience.”
While brick and mortar pharmacies are in the pharmaceutical industry, they also have an undeniable retail element, Chan explains, and therefore meeting ever changing customer expectations are important to ensuring a strong customer experience and thus loyalty.
Pharmacies have to “really evolve with what the expectations are from a consumer's perspective. The evolution of the mobile phone is a perfect example about all those different types of expectations,” said Chan.
This has been especially true during COVID-19 where MedAdvisor added the remote verification signups to allow patients to order medication and have it delivered to them during lockdown.
However, Chan also acknowledges that an ongoing balancing act will exist between preserving that digital retail element for customers that want it as well as being a strong health service provider.
“You've got almost this new type of consumer, where they may not even step foot in your pharmacy … On the other side, we want to have that connection. We want to have that connection to be able to talk to our patients that come through.”
Needless to say however, the pandemic solidified the pharmacist's central role in the primary healthcare circle.
“This is the first time that we've had the ability to take part in such a government rollout,” Shannon explains. Furthermore, COVID-19 has also accelerated the integration between health and technology, a trend that had already been on the rise since 2017.
When commenting on the future of the pharmaceutical industry and the role pharmacists play, in mid-May, Blooms CEO Phil Smith stated that the vision of Blooms is “driven by growth and innovation that is set to reimagine the role of community pharmacists and pharmacies in healthcare in Australia.
“Through Pharmacy 2030 and our sustained business model, it is our goal to contribute to the ever-changing healthcare landscape, collaborating with our general practitioner and allied health partners, supporting pharmacists to thrive as they serve and improve the health of their local communities.”
To watch our webinar with Casey Shannon and Eric Chan from Blooms The Chemist, click here.