Health & Future: What do customers expect from pharmaceutical supply services?

2.6.2021 8:00

In Finland, pharmaceutical supply services are largely provided by privately owned pharmacies. Their operations are strictly regulated in terms of location, number of service providers, pricing and pharmaceutical advice, for example. Society and various customer groups have a diverse range of expectations that pharmacies must be able to meet. Pharmacies are developing their operations, and better cooperation between the public sector and pharmaceutical supply companies will play a key role in the future.

Katri Hämeen-Anttila, Head of Research and Development at Fimea, and Leena Reinikainen, Development Coordinator at Fimea, shed more light on the topic on Health & Future, a Finnish-language podcast by Tamro, hosted by Pauli Aalto-Setälä and Heidi Tahvanainen. Effective pharmaceutical supply calls for partnerships between companies in the pharmaceutical sector. At the same time, cooperation between private services and the public sector must be increased to further develop services for customers.

Topics of this episode:

What do customers expect from pharmacy services?

According to the results of an extensive study funded by the Prime Minister’s Office, Finns find that pharmacies meet their statutory service requirements well. The availability of pharmacy services and medicines is perceived as comprehensive. However, professionals see further room for improvement. For examples, in studies conducted using mystery shoppers, the general conclusion continues to be that the advice provided by pharmacies is too product-focused rather than being customer-centric. However, development work at pharmacies will not remove all obstacles to good treatment.

Challenges in successful medical therapy are related to a lack of overall control of a patient’s medication, for example. The appropriateness of a patient’s medicines is not checked frequently enough in healthcare, says Leena Reinikainen, Development Coordinator at Fimea

Services in support of better medical therapy

In addition to providing statutory services, pharmacies are entitled to offer other health-promoting services, such as automatic dose-dispensing services and medical therapy assessment services. However, these services are fee-based, as well as being little-known among customers, which hinders their more extensive use.

The expertise of pharmacists is used within hospital organisations, but their professional skills should be utilised more extensively.

Pharmacies and the field of pharmacy should be closer to the rest of the healthcare sector. Development should be based on collaboration. If we don’t listen to one another, we will never achieve our common goal of better treatment, says Katri Hämeen-Anttila, Head of Research and Development at Fimea

Towards smoother pharmaceutical supply services

Pharmaceutical companies and the public healthcare sector should cooperate more closely in pharmaceutical supply services. For example, there is room for improvement in the introduction of technologies that support treatment, advice related to treatment and, above all, meeting patients holistically as people, also taking into account their lifestyles.

The Finnish service system is fragmented, which poses challenges to service development. The existing regulations don’t provide operators with sufficient incentives to steer them in the right direction, says pharmaceutical industry expert Heidi Tahvanainen.

Good operating models could be adopted from other Nordic countries for further development in Finland.

Effective models are in place in Norway and Denmark, for example. Customers are provided with services related to starting and checking medical therapy, as well as support services promoting commitment to treatment. Not everything can be adapted to our system, but nothing is stopping us from adopting the best aspects. Successful development takes place gradually: everything doesn’t need to change in one go, says Leena Reinikainen.

What is Health & Future podcast?

The article is based on Health & Future, a series of Finnish-language podcasts by Tamro, a Finnish operator in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors. The podcast series focuses on the future of the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare. The theme of the first season is the development of pharmaceutical supply, which is discussed with expert guests. The podcast is hosted by media personality and executive Pauli Aalto-Setälä and pharmaceutical industry expert Heidi Tahvanainen.