Juha Sevanto is a specialist of electronic commerce in the pharmacy sector, with extensive experience of launching online services and development in the field in Sweden.
How did you come to work in the sector and Receptum?
I am a pharmacist by training. I partly wound up in the sector because my guidance counsellor in upper secondary school suggested it to me. Already during practical training I realized that I wanted something more for my job. I had worked at a pharmacy for six months, when I heard that Receptum was hiring for their helpdesk. I was immediately interested, as the job included a new dimension through information technology.
I started working at Receptum in 2005. At the time, support was still primarily provided through the phone, as remote connection software did not exist. When MAXX was launched in 2007, I participated in the installations by providing training and inputting the required parameters. Since then I have had the chance to work on a wide range of tasks, just like I had hoped.
How did Receptum and you end up in Sweden?
It was already known at the end of the last decade that the pharmacy market in Sweden would be liberalized and the existing monopoly would be dismantled. At the time, we began to develop the prescription handling of the MAXX software to meet the Swedish requirements. When entrepreneurs began to open new pharmacies in Sweden, our competitors focused on larger chains, as they were not interested in the smaller operators. We instead offered a full-service package to new companies in the sector.
You might think that Receptum is a small player on the global scale, but as a highly specialized operator we are in fact quite significant. For many others, the pharmacy sector is merely a small part of their operations.
I myself have been part of the Swedish operations since the beginning with Pia Ukkonen. I started as a tester for prescription processing in Sweden. In 2010, I moved on to provide training in Sweden and work in the helpdesk. That period was quite intensive.
In 2014, my work also expanded to sales, as pharmacists I knew began to establish their own pharmacies and asked me for help. I asked Juha Antila whether I could include sales in my work. He said it was more than encouraged! When Pia took over our Norwegian department, I replaced her as the Swedish team leader and took responsibility for the product.
You are responsible for the Swedish MAXX, what does that mean in practice?
The MAXX used in Sweden is otherwise identical to the Finnish one, but the prescription processing was built from the ground up to meet the Swedish requirements. My job is to ensure that the software keeps up to date with administrative requirements and to listen to the clients’ development needs. For example, we do a lot of client-specific customization particularly for the electronic commerce clients.
Receptum also has a lot of process expertise within pharmaceutical online commerce; we are well-versed in both pharmacy and administrative practices. In addition, we have excellent connections to operators and wholesalers, for example.
If the process expertise of a major client is already on a solid basis, we can help them streamline their practices and demonstrate how they could simplify those tasks with MAXX.
With our smaller clients, we often help them through the entire process from establishing the pharmacy to opening it. We devise a timeline for the implementation and help them with administrative issues and contacts with partners from operators to wholesalers.
How have you participated in the online pharmacy sector in Sweden?
At Receptum, we understood the importance of investing in integratability in good time. MAXX can be connected to any electronic commerce platform in an agile manner. The inventory of the pharmacy can be located within MAXX or outside it; the software can be adapted for very diverse solutions. In Sweden we took an early start on online pharmacies, because we had the opportunity. We had built trust in Sweden as a highly competent operator in the field and soon received contacts and requests for offers regarding online pharmacies. Today, we have participated in establishing and developing the largest online pharmacies operating in Sweden.
Could you give an example of the software development you have engaged in?
Most recently, we made it possible to sort orders in the prescription cue according to the pick-up schedule of the transport company based on a request from a client. We also introduced color coding to facilitate the procedure. This has streamlined the process, as volume has grown rapidly.
How does the work in Sweden differ from the work done in Finland?
In Sweden, it is possible to establish a pharmacy without pharmaceutical qualifications, so consultation constitutes a significant portion of our work. In Finland, the establishment of pharmacies is regulated. In Sweden on the other hand, it is important to perform a market analysis and consider the location, the competitive situation in the area, and the potential partners.
How do Sweden and Finland benefit from each other through Receptum?
The continuous development work performed in Finland benefits Swedish pharmacies and new functionalities can be implemented quickly.
In turn, the robust experience of electronic commerce gained in Sweden will further the development of cooperation between Finnish online pharmacies and MAXX. The ideas implemented in Sweden can be quickly made operational in Finland as the operating environment changes.
The development done in Finland will benefit the Swedish clients. In turn, the Swedish projects will provide benefits in Finland.
What language do you use to provide services in Sweden?
I am fluent in Swedish. Our Swedish helpdesk includes Swedish-speaking specialists Viljam Nordström and Tomi Tamminen, so we are able to provide a good service to our Swedish client.
What sort of feedback have you received from Sweden?
After we had completed the establishment process for an online pharmacy with MEDS, I received a lovely thank-you letter from them. On another occasion, a Swedish client thanked us after submitting an offer, saying that a competitor had spent a half an hour with them without core competence, whereas we had stayed with them for two hours and knew everything. It was not important to know everything, but to find out what we didn’t know. The pharmacist’s husband who had made deals with large companies was present at the meeting. I was glad to hear that he thought I was a top-3 salesperson in his category. This kind of recognition really makes you believe you are on the right path.
What three aspects of your work demonstrate five-star quality?
- I encounter each client genuinely.
- I prepare carefully for each negotiation and meeting.
- If I don’t know how to do something, I know that the solution can be found within Receptum.
How do you relax in your free time?
There is nothing better than classic cross-country skiing on a hard-packed track when the temperature is approximately -10 degrees Celsius. I have loved it since I was a child.
I am also revitalized by cycling seven kilometers to work. Sometimes I commute on roller skis.
I like to listen to music. My preference is melodic guitar-based pop rock. I am also an enthusiastic supporter of HIFK, so I follow the domestic ice hockey league.
Who: Juha Sevanto
What is your background: I am a pharmacist by training.
What do you do at Receptum: I am in charge of the Swedish MAXX operations and development and I’m the lead of the Swedish team.
My motto at work: You have to take the bitter with the sweet.