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Connectivity, specialisation and network: these are the things that Italians want from the pharmacy of the future

  • A study conducted by Doxa on behalf of Dompé reveals a changing social and demographic scenario and a profession that is evolving compared to models of the past.
  • Italians confirm their trust in professionals, but are demanding greater integration between the services provided on and offline, more services in the pharmacy and a higher level of specialisation.
  • The revolution of the pharmacy 4.0 continues: the models of the future now include the “Pick & Pay” and multifunctional pharmacy.

Bologna, 5 May 2017. Six out of ten Italians go to the pharmacy at least once a month. Eight out of ten have their own trusted pharmacy and in 40% of cases are fully satisfied with the service they receive. But there is no shortage of requests for improvement. Nearly seven out of ten people would like a higher level of specialisation and would welcome liberalisation of the system, while 75% would want more competition as an incentive to improve the products and services.

This is the overall scenario that emerges from the survey carried out by Doxa for Dompé and presented today during the round table “The value of innovation and the need for wellness: a picture of the pharmacy of the future” held in the context of the Cosmofarma Exhibition in Bologna in the presence of Eugenio Aringhieri, CEO of Dompé, Annarosa Racca, current President of Federfarma and Francesca Moccia, Deputy Secretary General of Cittadinanzattiva.

The goal? To take a snapshot of the current pharmacy situation and of the big issues in the sector (including an openness to e-commerce, liberalisation, pharmacy chains and specialisation) in order to understand in which direction the trends in the world of health are heading, and what are the dynamics that will develop in the future. The survey involved both pharmacists and a sample representative of the Italian population.

The opinion of pharmacists: challenges and opportunities

In a field dominated by growing challenges but also new opportunities, the survey reveals that pharmacists are aware of the dynamics of transformation at work. What worries them are the increasingly lower margins, the appearance of big chains on the Italian market and the effects of discounting. Last but not least, the uncertainty about the regulatory framework and its effects on a profession that is still in the process of evolving.

The trend in the evolution of pharmacies moves toward an ever more intense use of technology, a stronger drive towards marketing and an increasing ability to aggregate functions and skills at the point of sale. All signs that translate into tangible actions:

  • The drugstore formula, also backed by large international chains;
  • The multiplication of the range of services;
  • A growth in online sales.

Today, pharmacists aspire to an increasingly hybrid model of the pharmacy, to free themselves from a purely commercial function. There is an increase, therefore, in consulting services in view of constant updating; an increase in the monitoring of adherence to therapies and an openness to the entire network of the world of health.

“The challenge of the pharmacy of the future has already begun. The laws regulating new services have outlined an innovative model of pharmacy that, in addition to supplying medications, ensures that citizens can enjoy a series of additional services: from initial diagnostic tests to preventive screening, from the online booking of medical appointments and exams to offering services from other operators (nurses, physical therapists)”, ” says the President of Federfarma Annarosa Racca. “In this evolutionary process, technology and computerisation play a key role, especially when it comes to services accessible from remote and pharmaceutical care, which aim to ensure the monitoring of therapies, proper use of medication and patient adherence to drug treatments. One of the main efforts of Federfarma is to ensure that these services can be offered uniformly throughout Italy, taking advantage of the extensive network of pharmacies and strengthening their role as primary social health facility within the SSN (Servizio Sanitario Nazionale [National Health Service])”.

"For citizens, the pharmacy’s accessibility represents a great opportunity for contact with the health service and to receive information that is readily available and helpful in both prevention and care” said Francesca Moccia, Deputy Secretary General of Cittadinanzattiva. “The expectations are very high: from diagnostic tests to using instrumental devices, from the demand for services at home to educational programmes that will encourage adherence to treatment. And technology can make a significant contribution to simplify the procedures and reduce time, without sacrificing the room for privacy and medical advice that a pharmacy can offer".

The pharmacy of the future? More and more 4.0

The survey reveals a picture of the pharmacy of the future that will increasingly be 4.0. Citizens, in fact, are asking for a multifunctional pharmacy, which is not limited to distributing drugs and products but that is more and more a hub where services and medical advice are gathered in a sort of health “network”. Much in the same way, people would like to have a “Pick & Pay” type of pharmacy that perfectly integrates online and offline services, allowing them to place an order from their smartphones, PC or tablet and then call in to the pharmacy to pick up it up.

“The picture of the pharmacy of tomorrow is rather interesting and becomes a model for all actors in the health system, including pharmaceutical companies, which have historically been on the pharmacist’s side. A role that even in light of the changes taking place in society remains a staple in the need for health of Italians, because it is the first and natural contact point for citizens/Patients, as the data polled by the survey shows – says Eugenio Aringhieri, CEO of Dompé. “In the near future, companies will be even closer to the pharmacy, and this will be through a more close-knit and evolved dialogue. In my opinion, there are three imperatives for the “pharmacist of 2020”: an increased use of technology, for a pharmacy with higher connectivity that no doubt will automate certain processes to make room for other, newer ones that are more in line with the needs of the future. Specialisation, for a greater focus on core competencies and therefore an increasingly customised offer. Openness, for a greater dialogue not only with Patients but with the whole pharma chain.”