Historically innovative whole health service
Like his father Mario, Matthew Calanna is an ideas man and is constantly coming up with innovative ways of providing whole health solutions for people in Far North Queensland.
Mario established Calanna in 1976, which has since grown into the largest family-owned whole health pharmacy group in Northern Australia. Matthew joined in 2003 after completing his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree and is now the General Manager and Director of 11 Calanna Whole Health pharmacies in Cairns, Atherton, Innisfail, Townsville and the Gold Coast.
For many years Calanna has been first movers on new technology and innovation in pharmacy. Under Mario’s guidance, Calanna was the first pharmacy in Northern Australia to be accredited under the Pharmacy Guild of Australia Quality Care Program, introduce in-store naturopaths and in-store sleep clinics, provide medical and veterinary compounding, acupuncture, massage and nursing support as a part of their holistic service model. Mario also worked with his own naturopath over 25 years ago to develop his own range of natural healing and treatment ointments, sprays, tonics and essential oil blends – known as Marios.
“Traditional medicine will always be a big part of our business, but whole health and complementary medicine is what we have done for decades,” said Matthew.
“We are focussed on looking at a person’s whole health, looking at prevention through diet, lifestyle and supplementation and providing this through the trusted advice and support of qualified health practitioners like pharmacists, nurses and naturopaths, and we make that all easily accessible to the public in one shop. We also offer medical and surgical consumable wholesaling across the region.”
While Mario is still involved, Matthew now heads up the business and is introducing a number of new and cutting-edge technologies to improve service to the public. Three of its locations (Woree, Kirwan and Deeragun) now incorporate robotic dispensing to manage and dispense medicines.
Matthew has also spearheaded two different DNA tests now on offer in all Calanna stores. One helps determine which medicine is best for each customer and the other helps provide valuable information on the best diet and fitness requirements for each individual based on their genetic makeup.
“An individual’s genetic makeup can play a significant role in how a person metabolises medication as well as what type of diet is best suited for weight loss or what type of fitness activity is best for better health,” Matthew said. “We offer simple, painless, non-invasive and affordable test options in all our stores which analyses a number of genes and provides tailored, personalised information for each customer.
“These simple tests give individuals that information in an easy-to-understand report which they can then provide to their GP or specialist to take the guess work out of prescribing pain medications, heart and cholesterol medicines, mental health and gastrointestinal medications.
“By determining the most appropriate medicine, diet or fitness regime for an individual, we can help reduce side effects, get a better response and improve compliance and reduce waste. Our focus is on working together with GPs, specialists, allied health professionals, personal trainers and the like using tools like this to improve people’s whole heath outcomes.”
Matthew has also helped develop a voice-operated interactive staff training app, known as VOISTA five years ago, the first of its kind in the industry and globally. It means the more than 150 staff across the 11 Calanna stores train regularly and keep up to date with advancements in medicines and supplements and are armed with the knowledge and expertise in pharmacy and natural health to improve the value and level of service Calanna provides customers.
“We take our role in professionally developing our staff seriously to ensure customers are dealing with the most qualified, up-to-date and credentialed staff in the industry,” Matthew said.
“This gives our pharmacists and qualified team more time to interact with our customers, talk with people and offer them customised advice and solutions, which is our focus,” Matthew said.
Words by Janie Barton | Photos by Catherine Coombs