Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Resilience of Finnish Community Pharmacies During COVID-19 Pandemic: An Empirical Study

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Finnish community pharmacies had to rapidly adapt to ensure the ongoing availability of essential medicines and services. This study provides an in-depth look at the crisis management strategies deployed by these pharmacies, examining the effectiveness of various measures in maintaining resilience among pharmacy staff and owners, as well as preserving organizational cohesion and financial stability.

Implementation of Crisis Management Strategies

A survey was distributed to 602 Finnish community pharmacy owners during the second wave of the pandemic in October-November 2020. Out of these, 221 owners (36.7%) responded. The survey, grounded in the crisis management process model, sought to evaluate whether pre-existing crisis plans, crisis teams, shared decision-making, and collaboration with external stakeholders were beneficial during the pandemic. The study found that pharmacies increased their order volumes, sourced new suppliers, offered home deliveries, provided remote consultations, produced hand sanitizers, and offered additional COVID-19 customer counseling.

Key Findings on Resilience and Financial Stability

The analysis revealed that shared decision-making with pharmacy colleagues significantly bolstered the resilience of pharmacy owners (p = 0.025) and positively impacted financial stability (p = 0.040). Collaboration with peers and stakeholders in the supply chain also contributed to owners’ resilience (p = 0.015). However, crisis teams and collaboration with social and healthcare operators did not demonstrate a significant advantage. Surprisingly, pre-existing pandemic plans were associated with a reduction in pharmacy resources (p = 0.006).

Inferences and Implications

The study’s findings indicate several implications for market access and crisis management in the pharmaceutical sector:

  • Shared decision-making processes can enhance both financial stability and resilience among pharmacy owners, highlighting the importance of internal collaboration.
  • Strong ties with supply chain stakeholders can be crucial during crises, suggesting that external collaboration is beneficial for maintaining market access.
  • Pre-existing pandemic plans, while valuable, may need to be re-evaluated to ensure they do not inadvertently deplete resources.

The results underscore the importance of developing robust internal and external collaboration frameworks to safeguard the continuity of pharmaceutical services during crises.

In conclusion, Finnish community pharmacies adopted multiple strategies to maintain the supply of medicines and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study reveals that shared decision-making and collaboration with supply chain stakeholders were particularly effective in protecting financial stability and enhancing the resilience of pharmacy owners. These insights could guide future crisis management strategies in the pharmaceutical sector, emphasizing the significance of both internal and external collaborative efforts.

Original Article:

Res Social Adm Pharm. 2024 Jun 24:S1551-7411(24)00201-8. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2024.06.010. Online ahead of print.

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