Friday, September 28, 2012

I2P: Challenging The Conventional Wisdom

Australia is many "Countries where they do things differently", not one uniform society, especially in things Medical.

This was brought home to me forcefully this week seeing a storefront in Moss Vale, NSW:
Pharmacist Advice: "Helping manage your medication, Helping you stay healthy"
In the 1960's I lived for a time in a small town in Far North Queensland. The first-call for small-boy medical adventures (ticks, tropical infections, wounds, burns, ...) was the Pharmacy and Ambulance station. Not Hospital Casualty nor the GP.

In the city, it was the local (large) doctors practice that was the first port of call. They stitched me up and fixed me up more times than my mother deserved. Only once was I sent onto hospital, for a plaster cast, though that's a guess more than a memory.

For the years I "went bush" in the Bega Valley during the 1990's, I can't recall needing a doctor but did call the vet for the animals. I might've gone to the Emergency Room had I needed urgent treatment, though I think I saw the Pharmacist a couple of times.

The last month I've been travelling frequently to the NSW "Southern Highlands", an area I used to pass through frequently 30-40 years ago. Getting off the freeway and revisiting old roads and towns has been nostalgic, so I've been reacquainting myself with the area by walking around the towns.

Moss Vale is picturesque, filled with classic heritage houses and buildings. Until you go beyond the main street and find they've built a rather large, new shopping precinct off the main drag! Ample free parking, too.

I've been impressed by the number and variety of Healthcare practices available in or near the business districts of the towns I've visited in the Highlands. There are easy to find and access, close together and the residents seem better served than in Canberra where we have a GP shortage measured in the hundreds and some of the most expensive medical and ancillary care in Australia.

Why is this so? They might have more Baby Boomers doing a Tree Change and more Retirement Villages, it might be young families in a growing area, it might just be that Healthcare Practitioners love the area: close to Sydney and unspoiled, uncrowded.

But like any small community, they have many social strata, will be under-serviced& by mainstream Medical and there will be very strong word-of-mouth, "I saw this guy and he really helped me".

With my background, I should've have been surprised at seeing a large, vibrant Pharmacy in the middle of town, obviously filling a substantial need. My regret is that we don't have a branch of this chain in Canberra, though they are Australia wide.

For those of you in the Healthcare Industry, I encourage you to look at their corporate website [1].
They've found a niche that not only supports the work of GP's, but addresses both the Wellness and Illness sides of Healthcare for many important market segments. I suspect many of the services are provided without direct cost, serving as "loss leaders" in gaining product sales.

This model of a friendly, accessible, well informed professional whom you can ask about any little thing, isn't rushed off their feet and will spend time with you directly challenges the mainstream Medical Model of GP practices. Particularly if they see you as a "whole person", not a collection of diseases and conditions and will discuss Wellness promoting, non-Pharma products and programs.

Most of all, I liked the name: Pharmacist Advice.
It brilliant marketing. It says who they are, what they do, what you can expect and contains a solid promise.

In this world of rapidly escalating Healthcare costs, doctor shortages and increasingly cautious Medical care, going back to basics and addressing real community needs seems inspired and exactly what the patient ordered.

[1] Pharmacist Advice website.

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