As a young manager, a few years ago – okay, many years ago – my boss said to me, “Always be efficient, but remember that you cannot cut your way to growth”.
By cutting funding and introducting the Quality Payment initiative, the government is currently asking independent pharmacies in England to cut back, and become more efficient, and at the same time to take steps to improve patient service.
The Department of Health has allocated £75 million to the Quality Payment scheme, taken from the overall funding for 2017/18 of £2.592 billion. Payments will be made to community pharmacy contractors who meet certain gateway and quality criteria, with a maximum of 100 points available. With £64 per point, this equates to a possible £6,400 per contractor.
There are eight quality criteria, and two of the four gateway criteria are:
In fact, these are all activities that pharmacies are probably doing already, or should be. They are also similar to the fundamental elements of the Pharmacy Growth Programme run by Pharmacy Growth Specialists.
The good news is that there is help available. The Pharmacy Growth Programme has already worked with more than 50 independent pharmacies and pharmacy groups across 100 sites throughout the country, to attract more patients and customers, capture more of their weekly shop and help them to access more services that enhance their wellbeing.
To put the impact of the programme into context, the commercial benefit ranges from a minimum of 10 times return on investment to more than 20 times return on investment. This translates to an increase in gross profit of 10 to 30 per cent. It’s a real success story.
Ultimately, productivity and revenue come from your team and how they use your processes to engage with your customers for your pharmacy to become their preferred and regular choice.
To make the most of your team, consider the following two questions:
In our experience, working with many pharmacies, most people come to work wanting to do a good job, but often their focus during their busy day is exclusively clinical. We see great reactive service and high clinical standards during our visits to our pharmacy customers, but this alone isn’t enough to move a business forward.
What gets in the way? What stops people who want to do a good job contributing to the growth of your pharmacy business? Does performance dip when you or your pharmacy manager are not there for more than a few days?
Fortunately, as pharmacy growth experts, we have some useful insight to share. For example, the most common challenges we observe are:
The Quality Payments scheme is a government initiative that rewards you for better quality of patient experience and pharmacy efficiency, so if you link this to team commerciality, then growth is inevitable.
Consider the following commercial quality standards:
Why not take the theme of quality and make it work for you, your team and your customers?
You need to make the team the heart of your business, as they will set the quality standard for your growing customer base. Engage your team in the following, every day in every way:
Ask 10 people what coaching is and you’ll get 10 different answers. Some people tell us they coach all the time, but they do not coach, they just tell nicely, while others believe coaching is a soft option or, for whatever reason, are cautious about using it.
We have seen some examples of great coaching in community pharmacy, and it’s often the case that the people doing the coaching are completely unaware they are natural coaches.
Getting started with coaching involves asking the following questions when launching an initiative, checking progress and reviewing outcomes.
The steps are as follows:
1. Set up
What is the initiative or idea?
What will the customer experience?
What do we have to do?
How will we measure it?
How are we performing against our target?
Are we up to date with actions?
What is working?
What is not going so well?
Do we need to change or update anything?
Did we do everything we said we would do, on time and to standard?
Did we achieve our target?
What did we learn for next time?
How do we keep it going?
Who deserves recognition?
Move on to next initiative?
Ensure that you recognise the effort, and praise the results.
What is the worst that could happen by taking some of these steps? You will be better informed about your team and, importantly, about the productivity of your business.
Why not take all (or some) of the recommendations in this article to prove to yourself, and for your team to prove to themselves, how they can make a commercial difference? A simple way to get started is to set a challenge for the team, allow them time to discuss the challenge and come back to you with their plan. You will need to:
There’s no doubt community pharmacy continues to face financial challenges, but there is an opportunity to take some of the requirements of the Quality Payment scheme and carry that ethos through your business to improve your bottom line.
RPS Ltd/Pharmacy Growth Specialists are experts and can help, so please get in touch with Dennis Reid on 01344 849397.
Read more about The Pharmacy Growth Programme below.