Pharmacies as centres for healthcare services – “Farmacia news” 10/2006

Pharmacies as Centres for Healthcare Services
Article published on “Farmacia news”n°10/2006

Located in Bologna, the Pharmacy della Barca was bought by Dr Giulio Babini in 1980. It was renovated,  refurbished and enlarged in 2006 so that it would be able serve the local community and safeguard public health even more effectively and efficiently.

Dr Babini, what ideas guided you while renovating and refurbishing your pharmacy?

“Ever since I began in 1980, I have always believed that pharmacies have to be innovative and dynamic, a place where the professional and business person must be fused into one figure without either one prevailing. I think my perception as the pharmacy as a service was very important as well as the fact that my father was a doctor, making me very aware of the connection between pharmacies, the National Health Service and family doctors. After my degree, I worked as a salesperson for a large pharmaceutical company and I have put the technical and managerial skills I learned to good use in running my pharmacy.”

How do your managerial and business impact on the day to day activity of running your pharmacy?

I guess a greater awareness of the fundamental importance that a continuous and scalable growth has for my pharmacy. Obviously the ethics of the professional pharmacist must remain the same, but the techniques and means used to carry out one’s work must keep up with the times and evolve at the same pace as the world around. When I bought the pharmacy more than 25 years ago, I was convinced that the local area would grow and therefore support the growth of my business. Thankfully, I can now say that I have won that bet as they local area has grown along with my pharmacy.

How can pharmacies meet today’s challenges and what is the future of the profession?

“The only way that pharmacies can beat today’s challenges is work, lots of hard work. However you also need to work well and professionally, always searching to improve the services you offer to customers. Pharmacies must also be willing to collaborate with the medical profession and the national health service in supporting health initiatives and extending public healthcare out into the community. We must leverage all our experience of our clientele and each customer’s problems, ensuring that our services cater more and more specifically to their individual needs. To do this, however, we need to invest in more personnel as was as more space. For this reason, as soon as the shop next door was free, I bought it up and completely renovated, more than quadrupling the pharmacy’s retail floor.

How is the new pharmacy arranged?

“I asked the architect for a original and creative design, and I have to admit that he completely satisfied all my expectations. The pharmacy has a very individual personality; it is modern, function, bright, welcoming and very easy on the eye. Customers feel at ease, are able to pick out the product categories they are interested in immediately, and can easy use all of the services on offer in areas of the pharmacy that have been especially designed to guarantee privacy and usability. The stock rooms and dispensary was also made more efficient, saving valuable time which can be dedicated to our customers. In order to improve customer service, we recruited more staff and are looking for another person to join our team.

How are the various merchandise sectors organised?

“There is the prescription counter of course and then a complementary therapies counter with a extensive selection of products on sale. This sector also has its own entrance allows customers to access this area directly, a fact that underlines its importance and size.

The cosmetic sector is characterised by personalised service and a excellent selection of high quality products. It has been designed so it is a very functional space and we ensure that all products are safe, offering quality brands that have been tested and recommended by dermatologists. In fact, in all product sectors we try to offer our customers a wide and extensive range of products that have been carefully selected in order to satisfy our customers’ demands.

Do you think that is very important for your professional credibility to personally choose the products you sell?

“You are only able to advise customers which products are ‘right’ for them if you have chosen and examined each one personally. Guiding customers choices in this way is of paramount importance for building up one’s professional credibility and persuading customers to trust you. We tend to guide our customers choices in all products sectors, although it is more import in some, such as medicinal drugs and oral hygiene, than others. This is because customers feel like they need some expert advice before buying these types of products. We also give out lots of advice regarding special diets as food allergies and intolerances are constantly on the increase in industrialised nations. We offer suffers a vast range of products chosen for their nutritional qualities, healthiness and good taste which are displayed in a bright and dedicated area of the pharmacy. I think its important to help those who suffer from food allergies not only enjoy their food, but also enjoy going shopping for food, rather than making it seem like they are buying medicines.”

What other services are available in the your pharmacy?

“Well the number is always growing. My son works in the dispensary and lab preparing prescription drugs and customers can test themselves for many different health conditions as well as book appointments for visits to see specialists on the national health service. We also organise public meetings to raise awareness about certain health issues, such as special diets and the problems connected to them.

We are happy to offer any type of service to the public and we are convinced that this the road to future success. Moreover, we firmly believe that the pharmacy and pharmacist are both ‘institutions’ both are destined to stay and will surely stand the test of time as long as it keeps loyally serving the local community, who are, after all, those who support us.”

Giovanni Bernuzzi