Standing out from the crowd

In the October issue of Retail Pharmacy magazine, Nancy Rostom, Pharmacist Manager at Wizard Pharmacy Mount Pleasant Western Australia, tells about her career highlights, her pharmacy and team, the evolution of the industry, and more.

What have been your career and store highlights so far? 

I learnt fast that if you don’t stand out from the crowd, you become another number.  I committed to work on myself and my team to continue to be innovative and provide exceptional experiences to all our customers.

Our biggest store highlight was our first-ever Wizard Pharmacy Health Expo in August 2023. We found a gap in the industry, a blue ocean, as many professionals would describe it. There has never been a health and wellbeing expo in Western Australia, so we created an in-store experience for our patients and healthcare providers. My team did an exceptional job helping set up, working with our supplier partners and being fully present on the day to engage with all the customers. I learnt that you can’t create something so grand without your team’s support. Your team must believe in your shared set of values and the “ why “ behind every task or event we make in-store.

What has the impact of technology been on pharmacy over recent years? 

The impact of technology on our daily lives, specifically pharmacy, has been rapidly growing, but we saw a significant change during the pandemic. Many new innovations were introduced, such as electronic scripts, electronic health records, remote QCPP assessments and QR codes that read out what is on your labels. The latest use of robotics in the dispensary to minimise errors and increase speed in supplying medication to the patient has also made an enormous impact. Another brilliant technology is the programs that we have in-store to analyse customers’ health needs. All of this combined has allowed us to provide trusted and reliable health care at a much more customised level because when it comes to health care, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

How has the pharmacy industry and its approach to health services evolved? 

At the beginning of pharmaceuticals, a pharmacy’s role revolved around compounding medication and supplying prescriptions. As times’ evolve and patients are increasingly educated about their health by pharmacists and doctors, the scope of practice and services has to expand to meet patients’ expectations in a timely and convenient manner. The concept of shared healthcare between pharmacies and medical practices has also made it easier to provide better health services. We now see some pharmacies with full-time naturopaths; others have nurse practitioners to reduce the workload on doctors. The definition of health services has changed from primary demand and supply of a product to providing a complete health solution involving multiple health care practitioners.

Why is looking after your community so important to your pharmacy? What do you think your customer base values the most about your pharmacy? 

Looking after our community is paramount to our pharmacy for several reasons. First and foremost, a strong sense of community engagement fosters trust, mutual support, and a positive reputation. As a local pharmacy, we are not just a place to acquire medications; we are a resource hub for health and wellbeing, and our commitment to the community ensures that we play an active role in enhancing the quality of life for our neighbours.

When we invest in our community, we invest in our customers’ health and happiness. When our community thrives, it creates a positive ripple effect. Healthier individuals contribute to a healthier society, reducing healthcare costs, improved productivity, and enhanced quality of life.

As for what our customer base values the most about our pharmacy, it’s the combination of personalised care and a sense of belonging. We are a source of reliable information and a partner in their journey toward well-being. They value the convenience of a community-centred pharmacy that takes the time to understand their individual health circumstances, offer expert advice, and provide solutions tailored to their needs. 

What are your values at your pharmacy, and why is it essential to maintain core values in community pharmacy?

Wizard Pharmacy’s purpose is to enhance our patient’s quality of life through science and nature-based wellness solutions. Our store culture revolves around growing our knowledge, behaviour and strategies to direct our focus better. The “why” of what we do is the core of our values. Why we care, educate and provide our patients with the best we have aligns with our strategy and approach.

What was the most significant way the COVID-19 pandemic changed how your pharmacy operates? 

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a fundamental shift in the operations of our pharmacy, with the most significant change being the rapid integration of telehealth services and contactless interactions. Embracing virtual consultations, online prescription orders, and curbside pickups became paramount to ensuring our staff’s and customers’ safety and well-being. The changes revolutionised how we deliver healthcare services and emphasised our commitment to adapting to new challenges while maintaining high-quality patient care. 

How has your team performed during the challenges of the past 18-plus months? 

We had to work with what we had and what we could order in-store to overcome shortages. We constantly updated our local doctors on what was in and out of stock from suppliers and worked with other Wizard Pharmacies to transfer items between stores to continue to provide for our patients as best we could. Being part of the Wizard network, we could promptly supply 90 per cent of our patients with their needs.

Efficient teamwork and clear instructions and regulations that we all followed to work in harmony have made it easier for us to share the load and thrive. Our unwavering commitment to providing essential services, adapting swiftly to evolving circumstances, and maintaining a high level of professionalism has ensured the seamless operation of our pharmacy and reinforced our bond with the community we serve.

Can you please elaborate on what your most popular service is? Why do you think it’s so successful? What is your advice to other pharmacies seeking to strengthen that service in their store?  

Our most popular service revolves around our commitment to innovation and specialised healthcare. We have introduced a unique medication management program that tailors medication regimens to each individual’s needs, fostering greater adherence and efficacy. This service combines cutting-edge technology with personalised consultations, allowing our customers to understand their treatments better and optimise their health outcomes. Our emphasis on innovation has resonated with our customer base as it addresses a pressing need in the healthcare landscape while offering a convenient and user-friendly solution. This success can also be attributed to our team’s dedication to ongoing training and staying updated on the latest advancements, ensuring our customers receive the best care possible.

For other pharmacies seeking to bolster a similar service, I advise investing in continuous innovation and staff training. Stay abreast of the latest technologies and trends in specialised healthcare, tailoring them to meet the unique needs of your community. Building strong relationships with healthcare providers in your area can also help foster referrals and collaboration.

Additionally, I actively seek customer feedback and make adjustments based on their input. Ultimately, success in this realm hinges on combining cutting-edge solutions, personalised care, and a proactive approach to staying ahead of healthcare trends.

What do you predict the future has in store for pharmacy? 

Pharmacy continues to be an extremely fast-paced, changing industry where you need to remain adaptable. We are looking forward to continuing to increase our scope of practice, especially with the announcement that West Australians can now receive treatment for UTIs through community pharmacies. It will also be interesting to see how the industry adapts to 60-day dispensing. Innovation will be key as we implement ways to minimise its effects. The team at Wizard Pharmacy Services have already provided us with recommendations, so I look forward to seeing how they go.

What do you look forward to the most in the future?  

I look forward to all of our hard work and initiative being recognised when we get an e-mail letting us know we are a finalist for Guild Pharmacy of the Year 2024!

This feature was originally published in the October issue of Retail Pharmacy magazine. 

Must Read

Professor Kevin Batty elected as President of the Council of Pharmacy...

The Australia Pharmacy Council (APC) welcomes the election of Professor Kevin Batty as President of the Council of Pharmacy Schools: Australia and New Zealand...