When Eeva-Kaisa Mäki-Moijala told people she was going to lead the first pharmacy of the new Olo pharmacy chain, many of them wondered. Why would a pharmacist want to take on a new challenge so close to their retirement?
Eeva-Kaisa Mäki-Moijala believes that the entire health care sector will focus more on the prevention of illnesses in the future, and pharmacies must meet the challenge.
– For a long time now I have waited for a chance for genuine collaboration for the benefit of the customers. I refer to combining digital and physical services together with other operators.
In the autumn, Olo pharmacy Graniittitalo was opened in Kamppi, Helsinki, as the first pharmacy of the new innovative Finnish chain. At the end of November/beginning of December, it was followed by new pharmacies in Helsinki, Pietarsaari and Pännäinen. The chain is a joint effort of pharmacists, Terveystalo and Tamro.
Low threshold for care
When a customer enters a pharmacy with a health problem, the care pathway can start right there in the pharmacy. This lowers the threshold for care.
– A pharmacist can refer the patient to a dietitian’s, nurse’s or physician’s chat or video appointment right away, says Mäki-Moijala.
In a sound-proof room, the customer can sit down in front of a computer and renew their prescription through a chat, or request flu care instructions. For example, allergy symptoms and rashes are problems that can be treated during a video appointment.
In addition to digital remote services, the pharmacy offers various wellbeing services, such as body composition analysis, vaccinations and oral health examinations. The service portfolio also includes spirometry tests to examine lung health.
The chain also offers an online store. In this first phase, the store sells chain campaign products and provides access to services. Customers can also soon order prescription medication and self-care products online.
Pharmacist Mäki-Moijala believes in the power of the chain.
– It is not profitable for a single pharmacy to set up an online store alone.
Partnership offers support
According to Mäki-Moijala, pharmacists should focus on their core expertise: the distribution of pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical advice If they want to expand to wellbeing services, they should consider finding a partner.
Most of the Olo pharmacy’s health services are produced by Terveystalo.
– Terveystalo is an expert in its field and also offers advanced digital services. We wouldn’t be able to reach the same level on our own. This partnership gives us broader shoulders and improves cost-efficiency”, says Eeva-Kaisa Mäki-Moijala.
Terveystalo offers various service packages.
– We have the so-called light version. In remote areas, the services could include, for example, more versatile nurse services, as well as procedures.
Education pays off
Eeva-Kaisa Mäki-Moijala is convinced of the benefits of the chain. The Olo pharmacy chain offers value for the membership fee.
– Support for personal development is essential. The personnel are offered versatile and efficient training. That motivates the employees.
Training of the 15 employees began well before the pharmacy was opened. In addition to product information and joint practices, they have been trained in customer encounters and the mapping of customer needs. Training sessions create team spirit.
– It is critical that training is offered systematically and continuously, even on a weekly basis.” It is not enough to teach something once – a week later it may have already slipped your mind.
The chain also offers entrepreneurs high-quality marketing that describes the services to customers. The chain provides pharmacists with comprehensive financial reports and management training for supervisors.
Mäki-Moijala believes that the chain strengthens the work of the pharmacy.
– The chain management includes experts of numerous fields, and they are all working in earnest. That places a slight positive pressure on us. Without the chain, we might not invest as much in training, for example.
Straight from the doctor’s office
Customers have given solely positive feedback on the services. They have also complimented the service atmosphere.
Many customers come straight from the Terveystalo clinic that is located in the same building as the pharmacy. Some customers work in the city centre or live in Etu-Töölö. There are numerous businesses in Helsinki city centre that acquire occupational health services from Terveystalo. It is convenient for the customers to shop in the pharmacy when they visit Terveystalo.
Tourists are another story.
– We get a lot of Russian tourists. They might make a day-trip to Helsinki just to buy reliable medicines or cosmetics. Russian customers receive a better service now because a Russian-speaking pharmacist started working here in November.
Born to work in a pharmacy
Eeva-Kaisa Mäki-Moijala was practically born to work in a pharmacy because her father was also a pharmacy-owner. She has seen how the pharmacy business has transformed during the last 60 years.
In the 1950s and 1960s, pharmacies manufactured and packed medicinal products mostly on their own. Since then, the share of factory-made medicinal products has increased steadily. At the beginning of 1980s, pharmacists still calculated the total sum of purchases by pen and paper and then entered the sum into the cash register. The first computer programmes were introduced in pharmacies in the middle of the decade, and online and mobile services have become more common in recent years.
– These changes have called for a big adjustment from the personnel, says Mäki-Moijala.
Over the years, Mäki-Moijala has worked in Viherlaakso, Espoo, and in Hakaniemi and the main University Pharmacy in Helsinki. Before establishing the Olo Pharmacy, she owned the Apteekkimarket pharmacy for 14 years. Apteekkimarket’s history extends back to the beginning of the 19th century, making the Olo pharmacy Helsinki’s oldest business still operating.
It will soon be time to give up pharmacy work, however. But Mäki-Moijala will still keep busy – thanks to her husband, 14 grandchildren, a summer cottage in Somerniemi and a second home in Spain.
Before retiring next year, Eeva-Kaisa Mäki-Moijala still has time to witness the start of a new age pharmacy.
"Easy, quick and good quality", is their motto.
– We should keep in mind that the customers would rather be somewhere else than in a pharmacy. That doesn’t mean that you can’t come to a pharmacy when you're healthy, to look after your wellbeing.
- Owner of the Olo pharmacy in Graniittitalo, the former Apteekkimarket pharmacist
- Has worked in several pharmacies in Helsinki and Espoo during her career
Speed is the asset of digital services
Tiina Rakkola, who lives in Helsinki, has just been to a wellbeing analysis in the Olo pharmacy in Graniittitalo and a cosmetologist has assessed the condition of her skin.
– My skin’s moisture level is good around my nose. It is a little bit drier elsewhere and requires moisturising.
A quick cosmetologist consultation is an example of the new kind of wellbeing services offered in the Olo pharmacy. Rakkola has not tested all the services yet because at the time of the interview the pharmacy had only been open for a month.
The main attraction of digital services is the speed.
– I help my 85-year-old parents to get their medicines. A doctor or nurse chat is an easy way to make sure that certain medicine combinations are compatible.
Rakkola is a regular customer at the Olo pharmacy in Graniittitalo, even though it is not her closest pharmacy.
– I often come to Kamppi to run errands. This is a convenient location and not too busy. The customer service is excellent. I always get the answers and help I need.
Rakkola values the additional services offered in the Olo pharmacy. You can get a flu shot at the most suitable time for you – without an appointment.
– Different campaigns remind you to take care of yourself.
COPY: Marjo Kanerva
PICTURES: Pasi Salminen, Aleksi Peltonen
The article has been published on Tampuriini-magazine 4/2019.