The 28th annual APP Conference has been touted as a resounding success by the 6,200 delegates who attended the four day event on the Gold Coast. With the event held as a once off in May, delegates were treated to Queensland’s glorious autumn weather.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt opened the conference with a positive keynote address highlighting the Government’s focus on protecting the long term sustainability of the community pharmacy sector. Minister Hunt announced the Government’s response to the King Review, highlighting they will not be accepting the recommendations of vending machine dispensing. While the $1 discount was not ruled out, Minister Hunt announced the $30m Health Care Homes initiative will begin on 1 July 2018 and $16m in funding for real-time prescription monitoring by the end of the year.
The Minister was also in attendance for the presentation to the Pharmacy of the Year and Intern of the Year Award winners, who showcased the diverse and professional ways in which they support their community and work to drive innovative pharmacy practices. Congratulations to Southcity Pharmacy Wagga Wagga who were named as the Guild Pharmacy of the Year, and Timothy Stewart from Lanyon Pharmacy in ACT who was named the Guild/ MIMS Intern of the Year.
An overarching theme of the conference was how to improve customer engagement and service experience. Speakers highlighted how pharmacies are well placed to meaningfully engage with the customer due to the frequency of customer visits. US guest speakers Joe Moose and Donnie Calhoun gave us best practice examples of how customer relationships are at the centre of pharmacy overseas. As Joe said “The model of cheap and quick prescriptions is dead, we need to change our model to being an ‘outcome pharmacy’.”
Other sessions focused on the disruption occurring in community pharmacy. While technology advances will keep changing the game, there was a positive feeling for the future of the sector, with the pharmacist adding personal, local advice to an online offering.
Women in pharmacy were celebrated at an alfresco networking lunch and packed crowds attended the inaugural Ann Dalton address, where leaders of community pharmacy encouraged delegates to support women through mentoring, advocacy and ownership opportunities.
The celebrations continued as the Guild marked its 90th anniversary with a birthday cake cutting at the Welcome Reception and a 90 year debate on the topic ‘Things were better in the old days’. While both sides fought hard (and humorously) the negative team were the victors, proving that the best is yet to come for community pharmacy.
The social events were once again a buzzing opportunity to connect and network with colleagues and suppliers. With the Welcome Reception opening on the Thursday evening, it provided more time for delegates to make their way through the 475 stands in the Trade Exhibition – the biggest in the event’s history – as well as view the new exhibitor zone. It wouldn’t be an APP without prizes and competitions – congratulations to the respective winners of the Toyota Yaris (Hector Destro, NSW), $10,000 Maldives holiday (James Lester, QLD), and Vespa (Rachel Hetherington, QLD). While the ever-popular Street Party headlined by renowned Australian rock band Reguritator, this event was a true celebration, pharmacy style!
Also, don’t forget to check out all the conference photos on the APP Facebook page.