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Callendar Pharmacy

Client:

Callendar Pharmacy

Location:

Falkirk, Scotland

Owner:

Richard Grahame

From Italy to Irvine via Falkirk, Richard Grahame has been on a journey of transformation over the past 12 months to bring 24-hour medicine collection convenience to his patients.
The Background

For Richard Grahame, travelling to Italy to see the home of the Pharmaself24 prescription collection point played a big part in his decision to invest. With hindsight, it was a trip that could very easily have never happened.


Just two weeks after Richard and a number of his fellow Edinpharm members flew back to Scotland out of Venice airport, Italy entered a national lockdown, and just two days after that, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.


As it turned out, coronavirus has continued to play a defining role in Richard’s Pharmaself24 journey, which originally began in Winchburgh, West Lothian in 2019. This was where Right Medicine Pharmacy had recently installed a Pharmaself24 24-hour prescription collection point, and Richard was immediately interested in bringing the technology to Callendar Pharmacy in Falkirk.


He could see that collection points filled a clear gap in the market by providing patients with convenient access to their medicines. In addition, the Pharmaself24 delivered on Richard’s wish to provide a clear point of differentiation in the local area.


“My ears pricked up when I heard about it,” he explains. “It provided an opportunity to be the instigator of new technology, and I thought if I wasn’t actually working in pharmacy, it was definitely the kind of thing that I would be using.”

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The Fact-finding Mission

After contacting Hub and Spoke Innovations to learn more about the machine, Richard formed part of an Edinpharm group that flew out to Italy in late February 2020. Their destination was the town of Schio, nestled below the Dolomites and east of Lake Garda, which is home to Videosystem, the manufacturer of the Pharmaself24.

 

Established in 1991, Videosystem’s vending technology was originally focused on machines for the DVD rental market, having shipped around 13,000 such units to 25 countries across the world. Today, however, the company’s efforts are directed towards the Pharmaself24, with the first machine installed in the Netherlands nearly a decade ago. The current install base now stands at over 500 machines across Europe, with rapid growth in the UK pharmacy market being driven by Hub and Spoke Innovations.

 

Richard says seeing Videosystem’s manufacturing capability and having the chance to meet everyone from the shopfloor staff to the engineering team and senior management made an important impression. “The trip gave us the chance to really see what was behind the company and to see the technology upfront,” he says. “It showed that this was a serious business with history behind it.”

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“Patients know when they’re leaving the house that their prescription will be ready. They know there’s no wasted journey and no queues. They love the certainty.” 
The Pharmaself24 Solution

There was also a strong economic case for investing in the Pharmaself24 as it gave Callendar Pharmacy new potential to grow its share of prescriptions without the costs associated with expanding its already over-subscribed home-delivery service.

 

Having placed the Pharmaself24 order, coronavirus intervened, with lockdowns causing a delay to the machine’s delivery date. While understandable, it was a frustrating situation, says Richard. “We had queues outside, we knew the technology was coming and we knew it would have been an ideal solution. People would have lapped it up!”

 

Things did, however, move quickly as soon as restrictions allowed. Careful planning was required on behalf of Hub and Spoke Innovations to ensure the machine could be smoothly installed into a designated area at the front of the pharmacy. This had been chosen to prevent the obstruction of a wheelchair access route but presented a logistical challenge thanks to the tight dimensions.

 

In the space of a few hours, the glass had been removed and the Pharmaself24 rolled into place with just centimetres to spare. The team was then given training on how to operate the machine, with a new back-end process introduced by the pharmacy to isolate and highlight which bags are to be loaded into the Pharmaself24.

Richard describes the whole installation process as “extremely painless” and says learning to use the machine is “child’s play”. To underline this point, his 10-year-old daughter even created a video of how it works, which was posted on the pharmacy’s Facebook page as part of a push to encourage patients to sign up.

 

As well as social media, the service has been promoted via Callendar Pharmacy’s own website and local media, and patients have also received leaflets in medicine bags.

The Conclusion

The response among users has been universally positive, says Richard: “The people that have embraced it, they really love it, and even those that are unsure are won over when they use it. They know when they’re leaving the house that their prescription will be ready. They know there’s no wasted journey and no queues. They love the certainty.”

 

The success prompted Richard to install a Pharmaself24 at his other business, Lawton Pharmacy in Irvine. This second machine went live in November 2020, providing respite during the Christmas rush and, one year on from Richard’s trip to Italy, supporting patients during the winter lockdown.

 

“I’d decided on the Pharmaself24 before I realised about the pandemic and lockdown, but it’s just been even more of a help in dealing with the queues in the cold,” concludes Richard. “Only the other day, a patient got in touch to say how much they liked using it. That’s the real reward for our investment.”