Most influential people in pharmacy: Adele Tahan

This article originally appeared in AJP.

Speaking to the first of our 14 most influential people in pharmacy, as voted by you

Adele Tahan
Community pharmacist and proprietor

Member, NSW branch committee, Pharmacy Guild of Australia
Member, Alcohol and other drug advisory committee, Central and Eastern Sydney PHN
Specialist advisor, TGA

Adele Tahan believes big changes need to be made across the pharmacy landscape. The Sydney pharmacist and owner has been working hard lobbying, educating and influencing “decisionmakers” across Federal, State and local government to see real change happen in the industry.

“Pharmacy needs a massive disruption,” she tells AJP. “The whole remuneration system has to be overhauled. The small independent players should be acknowledged, recognised and remunerated according to their efforts and the outcome they’re producing.

“These are the pharmacies who provide value for money, they have a personable relationship with the patient, they work one on one – they know their patient, they don’t work on volume, they work on smaller scale, and they very proud to deliver healthcare solutions.

“The current model is based on rewarding the big players and supply, people coming in and out—not individual service or attention. They do 500 scripts a day, they have one pharmacist on duty… there is no way on earth someone can do 30 scripts an hour, which is equal to one script every two minutes. How can you check the dose, check the instructions, talk to the doctor, talk to the patient, go to the My Health Record, if it’s a new drug you have to offer them a CMI, there is no way on earth you can do that.

“If a pharmacy has a model that just supplies, they shouldn’t be paid dispensing fees because they’re not providing the care. They’re getting payment for a service they’re not providing. And the pharmacies that are providing this service, they’re not getting remunerated correctly, they’re underpaid for that.”

Minister Greg Hunt and Pharmacy Guild committee member Adele Tahan.
Minister Greg Hunt and Pharmacy Guild committee member Adele Tahan.

Alongside this disruption in pharmacy, Ms Tahan says some pharmacists will need to change the way they’re running their pharmacies.

“With the advance of technology and now there’s My Health Record is widely used and available in community pharmacy, there are more stringent requirements on pharmacists to make themselves aware of what’s going on, apart from what they see in front of them with a prescription,” she says.

“If you’re going to sit down and look at the MHR, as one example, you’re going to have to spend time, you can’t do that in two minutes. That’s hence why my approach is disruption. That is also going to require pharmacists to change the way they’re running their pharmacies.

“I sell advice and I sell knowledge. It’s no longer about buying snake oil and vitamins that haven’t been tested and aren’t evidence based, and supplying the cheap fragrances and toys. The whole image and practice of pharmacy has to be reinvented – the training and the mindset.

“We need to focus on using our knowledge and medication management skills. That’s where I would like pharmacy to be – that’s what I’m going to work on.

Ms Tahan says her influence is “through my network, doing further research, talking to my colleagues, talking to politicians who are the decision makers, educating them and empowering them to make the right decisions and also talking about it in organisations, for example, through my role as a director of the Pharmacy Guild.”

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