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Australian Journal of Pharmacy : March 2005
identifying and treating pain ‘You could think what else you could offer these patients: for example, you could offer relaxation, you might suggest aromatherapy of Tai Chi, or stretching or complementary therapies,’ Mr Feldschuh said. He explained there are often small but significant things a pharmacist and their team could do to help a patient overcome some of the issues associated with pain management. Something simple Mr Feldschuh has done in the past with cancer patients was reduce the anxiety and stigma sometimes associated with the use of opioids. He found that if he could get to cancer patients early enough and explain to them what was going to happen in pain, and that there was a chance that the opioids would help keep them pain free, they were more likely take the treatment advice on board. ‘We also asked them to let us know when they were first put on opioids so we could do the red tape before the event,’ he said. tomer for a pack of Panadeine what we often see is somebody saying, “Do you want capsules or tablets? 12, 24 or 48?”. ‘There is a hell of a lot more to it than that,’ she said. Ms Kahn believes advice about pain was generally only given when the cus- tomer asked a direct question, or if the pharmacist had a prescription to fill. ‘When the pharmacist is given a piece of paper from the doctor, they go through the protocols. My issue is when they are not being given the piece of paper,’ she said. Ms Kahn said the category needed ‘reinvention’ and suggested a total retail solution for pain along the same lines as the smoking cessation and Lifeweight pro- grams she has developed for pharmacy. She conceded, however, that develop- ing a total solution for pain would be com- plex. ‘Pharmacy is, at the moment, the biggest seller of pain products but, unless they take the outcome route, they can’t be taken seriously as the first [destination] choice for pain management,’ she said. ‘And it won’t become that until it is obvious to customers and in their face all the time,’ she said. The advice delivery has got to be 24/7 ‘So what happened was that if the patient needed it, the process was very transparent, they and their carers didn’t get as anxious, and we didn’t treat them as criminals. And that’s actually very good for the pharmacist as wel—we don’t want to give pain to somebody in pain,’ he said. But how does the patient know the pharmacist is available to explain any- thing to do with pain? Reinventing pharmacy’s pain offer Commercial marketing strategist Hilary Kahn said: ‘We always start at the same point—the pharmacist sells medications but doesn’t take any account of the out- come for the patient.’ ‘So when there is a request from a cus- Ms Kahn said the ideal scenario in developing a total solution for pain would be to first clarify what the outcomes were, or determine what experiences pharmacy wanted customers to have. ‘The answer is very simple—pain-free, reduced pain or manageable pain and we want to do it in a way that he or she is not disadvantaged in other health areas,’ she said. ‘The marketing message would be clear and powerful—one that says: “We know how to manage and help you live with your pain”,’ she said. The next step would be to develop a method of advice delivery. ‘The advice delivery has got to be 24/7 and in a form that the customer can’t miss, which tempts him or her to find out more, which informs them of what the pharmacist knows and what the pharma- cist can do, and which educates them in terms of the possibility of being able to achieve the outcomes,’ she said. 178 ? THE AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PHARMACY VOL.86 MARCH 2005 ‘The third element is determining what the customers hear, which is a very focused methodology of ensuring phar- macy staff say the same things in the same way. It would have to be highly researched and highly correct,’ she said. Merchandising with signage, using headings such as severe pain, moderate pain, headache pain, joint pain and so on, would then be addressed as part of the overall package. Integrating retail health solutions Ms Kahn believes there would be an opportunity to integrate the various retail solutions. For example, a person suffer- ing pain from an ankle injury may be referred to the Lifeweight section to help them manage the weight that is exagger- ating the pain. ‘There is the option of being able to integrate solutions within the pharmacy to ensure that the customer does exactly what we want her to do, which is to come to us more often and to become more reliant on us for the advice she knows we offer because she can’t miss it,’ Ms Kahn said. The most important element of Ms Kahn’s model is that pharmacists have got to be seen as being able to offer pain management advice. ‘They have got to be seen to be in it— otherwise they are simply selling products that customers can get cheaper at the supermarkets,’ she said. Pharmacists don’t need to wait for a ‘total solution’ to get off the ground before they can successfully promote an interest in pain. Ms Kahn suggested pharmacists who wanted to offer a pain management advice service could hold information evenings for customers, organise talks by specialists, have information on their web- sites, or simply have brochures about pain management clearly displayed in the pharmacy. ‘Business is about keeping the cus- tomers you have got, growing the number of customers and ensuring that they get satisfaction every time they come in. And if you don’t start getting into their faces, it won’t happen,’ Ms Kahn said. ¦