Today saw a quick trip to Dusseldorf to catch up with some friends and check out the latest in European pharmacy innovation at Expopharm.
As always there was no shortage of dispensing automation on display, both for original pack dispensing and production of compliance aids. While Australian pharmacy is still moving at slightly faster than glacier speed when it comes to embracing automation, our European peers have moved onto the next generation of products.
I noticed a real shift in design this year, as the technical performance has become more universal & reduced or removed previous points of difference, the aesthetics of the unit & its ability to enhance the visual aspect of the patient experience has gained prominence.
In addition to the super sleek streamlined designs the market leaders deliver so well, this year I saw units that incorporated wood paneling or bright colour panels, customized to enhance the store design.
I also loved the virtual stock systems, where pharmacy stock was displayed on giant touch screens, with detailed information about the item summoned at the tap of your finger. Once you’d selected the item of your choice, the automated inventory system behind the screens delivered it to you.
What a point of difference in a retail pharmacy experience, never mind the reduction in stock holding, floor space requirements and elimination of theft.
One sight that I wasn’t expecting to see was a mobile tattoo truck in the middle of the hall. I got really excited, thinking it was demonstrating the medical tattoos I’ve read about which act as a form of wearable tech, but it was actually regular tattoos, being done live on site. I was more than a little surprised that this was seen as a pharmacy opportunity, but it turned out to be a clever marketing ploy for a range of post tattoo skin care.
Tattoo trucks aside, there was definitely no shortage of inspiration on how pharmacy can deliver a retail offering that provides a really differentiated customer experience.
With FIP being held in conjunction with Expopharm this year I spotted quite a few familiar faces from home, so hopefully it won’t be too long before some of this great innovation makes its way down under.