It was a gathering of who is who in the Pharmacy profession and community pharmacy in particular, at the First Annual Professional Summit of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), KING Zone, comprising Ifako-Ijaiye, Iju, Agege and its environs, as business experts and stakeholders, took turn to speak to members on the importance of technology to community pharmacy practice.
The event, which was organised by the ACPN, KING Zone and held at the Women Development Centre, Agege, Lagos, had two topics, “Leveraging On Technology To Enhance Community Pharmacy Practice” and “Maximizing Losses In Pharmacy Practice”.
In his welcome address, the Zonal Coordinator, ACPN, KING Zone, Pharm. Stephen Nwaozuzu, described the summit which was the first by the zone as laudable, saying the topics were not only apt but also timely as community pharmacists in the zone are expected to be freed from all forms of financial restraints, improve their businesses, and move with the trend.
He further explained that the main motive of the programme was to help members of the zone grow a successful pharmaceutical business, and improve their practice to meet up with the global standard while improving the image of the pharmacy profession at large.
Speaking on the topic, “Maximizing Losses in Pharmacy Practice”, Pharm. (Mrs) Folashade Lawal, a seasoned pharmacist, and managing director, Victory Drugs, noted that technology plays a prominent role in minimizing losses, saying in order to drive business sustainability, owners or managers of community pharmacies should take additional measures to prevent unwarranted losses arising from the different types of losses, wastage, poor inventory system, theft, and others.
She added, “Most types of losses can be managed, using technology, by collecting data, financial, inventory, manpower data from all sources and storing it in a standard format in a central database. This would help in advanced business reporting and will be used for making faster business decisions.
Speaking further, she noted that a community pharmacy should have a flexible and adaptable business and operational model, adding that a flexible operational model will enable a pharmacy to adapt to sudden changes in a bid to reduce downtime caused by political instability, natural disasters, or facility renovation exercise. “A community pharmacy should be proactive in responding to sudden changes to minimize the losses that might occur as a result”.
“Losses, though inevitable, can be grossly minimized. The community pharmacist needs to acquire the needed knowledge and skills to bring losses to the barest minimum. It is very important to remember the saying of Robert Burton- “penny wise, pound foolish”.
In his lecture titled “Leveraging on Technology to Enhance Community Pharmacy Practice”, Pharm. Shina Opanubi, project catalyst, PharmAlliance, noted that technology is not an end, but rather a means to an end, an enabler or an amplifier, saying if you automate a broken system, you will get a more broken system.
While talking about technology as an enabler, Opanubi noted that any pharmacy in 2022 that is not computerized is only in business, but not in pharmacy practice, adding that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, youtube, TikTok, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, and many others can be employed to the advantage of the user as the world become a global village.
He added, “Social Media and other platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Whatsapp group calls are powerful tools and can be used to engage customers, clients, staff and others in the quest to advance one’s business. Also, telemedicine, telepharmacy are also the new order, and the more one uses it to their advantage, the better for the person,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with Pharmanews, Chairman, ACPN, Lagos State, Pharm. Lawrence Ekhator explained that the need for a paradigm shift to a more advanced practice was what necessitated the organising of the summit, adding that the programme had the backing of the state ACPN, as the association at the state level itself is doing everything humanly possible to ensure it moves with the trend as far as technology is concerned.
“As we speak, we have launched a state website and it incorporates all the technology that each zone will need, also one of the fulcra of the website is to help to increase awareness of what the community pharmacists are doing and how they can be reached at the push of a button. We believe when the website is running, the public members can reach us even at the tip of their fingers.
Speaking in the same vein, the duo of Pharm. Iyiola Gbolagade, chairman, Lagos PSN, and Pharm. Tolu Ajayi, managing director, Shekinah Pharmacy, who were members of the panel, urged all community pharmacists in the zone to collectively embrace technology to further enhance pharmacy practice in the state and ensure they move with the trend as the pharmacy practice like every other practice is no longer what it used to be ten years ago.
The high point of the event was the presentation of award plaques to the members of the summit planning committee members, which included, Pharm. Joe Itaman, chairman, Planning Committee; Pharm. Paul Owolabi, secretary; Pharm. Chief Olaitan Ogunlade, member; Pharm. George Agbude, member, and Pharm. (Mrs) Ayodele Ogunlade, members.