Motivation to change?

There are lots of reasons why people make changes in their lives or their careers. The drive to try something new can be a significant motivator. Similarly, but for a much more negative reason, downsizing at a large company forces many to figure out “what’s next” involuntarily. For entrepreneurs, it can be maturation of one business and an interest in growing the existing business or launching a new idea. As I learned in business school, business cycles are just that—cycles—with ups and downs. Currently, and for some time, purchasing of prescription drugs has consolidated to the point where now the government and a few large payers purchase the majority. Their collective-buying approaches continue to aggregate purchasing power and thus push reimbursement for product costs lower—approaching actual acquisition costs for health care providers.

We’re not alone in the world. At the end of August, I met with my counterparts from countries around the world at the International Pharmaceutical Federation meeting. My takeaway was that there is a meltdown of the pharmacy business model underway all around the globe. Countries that had pharmacy ownership and margin protections and whose citizens are afforded national health coverage have implemented severe austerity measures in the face of the world economic downturn. As a result, pharmacists in these countries, like us, are looking for ways to survive. I’ve run enough pharmacies to know that you can’t make losses on sales of products up on volume. The answer isn’t selling more medications.

Like us, many nations’ pharmacists are turning to the provision of a higher level of patient care and services as the answer. So, as pharmacists consider their businesses, practices, and careers, I believe patient care services will be a keystone. As I shared with my colleagues in Europe, I don’t believe there is any turning back—the bridge from the past that we crossed to get here is no longer there. Whether you’re self-actualizing at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs or considering change out of fear, there are opportunities ahead. Our organization is focused on helping pharmacists differentiate with services and cope with the change. Hang on—we’ll take the ride together!