Blackmores Institute is the academic & professional arm of Blackmores and it has been established with the purpose of becoming a centre of excellence in the field of natural health research and education. It brings together the best minds, knowledge, and evidence, and is dedicated to sharing this knowledge with the wider of healthcare professionals, researches, industry and consumers. Blackmores has won the Reader’s Digest Most Trusted Brand Award for the 10th consecutive year in a row. Pam Stone, Director of Educational Partnerships for the Blackmores Institute joins HPR host Wayne Bucklar in conversation where she explains why Blackmores is one of the most trusted brands in Australia today.
Pam Stone is the Director of Educational Partnerships for Blackmores. She joined the organization back in in 1987. Her career with the company has spanned the advisory, public relations and education areas and she has lectured extensively to health professionals in Australia and the Asia Pacific region on a broad range of health topics. Her role now includes managing educational partnerships as part of the Blackmores Institute vision to facilitate delivery of evidence-based and accessible complementary medicine education for healthcare professionals.
A naturopath for over 30 years, she has witnessed a profound change in attitudes to complementary medicine over this time. She sees that education is key to giving healthcare professionals knowledge and skills to help patients make informed choices about their health and wellbeing and to effectively integrate complementary medicine into patient care, leading to better health outcomes for all.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and today, my guest is Pam Stone. Now, Pam is with the Blackmores Institute and she’s the Head of Education and Partnerships there. Pam, welcome to the show.
Pam Stone: Thank You, Wayne. Good to be here.
W: Now, Pam, we wanted to have a chat with you today because there’s some pretty extraordinary news out. Blackmores has one of the most trusted brands for the 10th consecutive year in a row and that’s a Reader’s Digest Award. That’s a pretty remarkable achievement.
P: Yes. Well, we’re on it of course and very proud to have won that for those 10 years and 10 consecutive years, because Reader’s Digest themselves are a trusted entity of course and they, have a lot of experience in research. And so, they really are able to dissect precisely what features constitute a trusted brand. So their award is highly regarded by us, so we’re honored to have this award.
W: Now, I’m just guessing that most of our listeners know the Blackmores brand but for people who don’t, just fill us in on what Blackmores does?
P: Yes, thank you. Well, I guess first of all, with Reader’s Digest, what makes you a trusted brand and Reader’s Digest approached a lot of everyday consumers, the users of our brand of course for their opinion about which types of brands they go to and why. And they quoted things like reliability, quality, integrity and that it’s vital for a brand to stay true to its promises, in other words, to hold fast to its core principles. And I think there’s no better way of describing Blackmores really if I must say and having been here for 30 years or so, I have certainly seen the journey of our brand. And the fact that we’ve … had very clearly defined core principles and has never wavered from them and attracts back to our naturopathic heritage. The fact that today, naturopathic guidelines for health and well-being are probably even more relevant and important than they were 30 years ago with all the onslaughts that we have for our health and well-being. We need to know, where’s the evidence and what should we be doing and not doing to stay healthy and then to address any health issues if they might arrive.
W: Now, Pam, you’ve been a naturopath for longer than you’ve worked at Blackmores and you’ve worked at Blackmores for 30 years or so. What do you think it is that builds that trust in the Blackmores product?
P: I’m speaking from the inside of course and of course, I’m biased but I see what happens behind the label if you like. And I know that from day one, Blackmores has represented quality and the quality use of natural medicine because there’s so much information now consumers understandably become confused, “What do I trust them? What don’t I?” We’ve always believed in quality and it has to be science-based. There has to be obvious evidence, be it traditional or scientific evidence to back up the claims that you are making for your product. And Blackmores has never wavered from that position.
W: Now, interestingly you’re with Blackmores Institute and how does the Institute relate to the commercial brand of Blackmores?
P: Yes. A very good question actually because the Blackmores Institute was formed only 6 or 7 years ago as a separate division of Blackmores and it’s the division of Blackmores that holds our research and our education. So it’s certainly the non-commercial side of the company. Certainly, we look at the evidence very critically and that sometimes helps to guide our thinking in terms of where are the evidence-based ingredients that offer a lot of value or benefit or opportunity and that may translate to a product or it may not. And we work with a lot of external tertiary institutions like leading universities and so on to help develop the evidence-based and then translate that into education. So our focus is on health professionals because it’s so important now of course that health professionals, the pharmacist, or doctor or other health professional be educated into how complementary medicine fit into primary health care and how they can, of course, offer their patients, their clients options based on evidence so it gives them the confidence to know, “How I can use natural medicine, natural therapies to enhance the health outcomes for my patients.” And it’s not that easy to find trusted sources of this evidence and this information. So that’s where Blackmore Institute comes in. We both offer support by way of the funding to universities to help promote the future of complementary medicine and we also ourselves develop education to translate the evidence into practical useful information that can be applied clinically. So that’s an important role that we’re very passionate about.
W: Now, just being a consumer of these things and being in the Baby Boomer generation, I remember the days when your GP scoffed at anything that was called, “Complementary Medicine” and the idea that you would eat oily fish to improve your heart health was like just an old wives’ tale and ridiculous. And over the years, I’ve seen it go from an old wives’ tale to now stuff that your GPs prescribing for you. What have you seen as a naturopath? Have you seen a change in that acceptance of complementary medicine?
P: In many ways, I’ve seen an enormous change and it’s been very gratifying to see the acceptance that has come to about complementary medicine as the research-based has grown and the evidence-based has grown. So yes, there’s a lot more except in sanity’s moving into mainstream slowly but surely. Against that, there is a lot more need for further education and further research and good quality research to substantiate some of the benefits that we see in practice. So there’s a lot more to do, there’s a lot more research that needs to be done. But a lot of this is being driven by consumers as well who are coming to their doctor or their pharmacist and asking, “What can I take instead of that medication or as well as that medication?” And they also need to know about the interaction side as well. In the main complementary medicines can be taken quite safely alongside prescribed medications but you do need the education and the understanding and you need to see a health professional about that. And so health professionals need to be educated of course to know what trusted advice they can confidently give their patients. So again, this is a big need where Blackmores Institute is helping to provide this sort of knowledge.
W: And I guess, a lot of people as consumers wouldn’t be aware of the extent of resources that Blackmores Institute makes available to prescribing professionals and pharmaceutical professionals. There’s an extraordinary database of information there.
P: Yes, thank you, Wayne. Look, it’s very true but we have a big vision ahead of us to do a lot more than what we are doing. But now, a lot for pharmacists particularly, we offer CPD accredited education. So they can come to us and get education that supports their requirements for their registration and it’s very relevant to their practice in pharmacy. And yes, we do offer a lot for GPs and other health professionals as well. So we’re developing that database across a lot of ingredients which are very relevant to the things that patients are presenting with and to health areas that need that level of also, understanding. We also have an advisory service so consumers can access directly where qualified naturopaths and pharmacists provide a lot of answers, a lot of information on any topic really related to their health and well-being.
W: Now, I just want to quote Blackmores’ Chief Executive Officer from a statement that he made, Richard Henfrey. He said, “We are honored. Australians have recognized Blackmores with such an important accolade 10 years in a row.” Now, what he’s talking about is the release that Blackmores, Australia’s leading natural health company have been awarded Australia’s Most Trusted Vitamin Brand 2018 by Reader’s Digest making it the only brand to win every year since the category was introduced to the survey. Now, the reason I’m quoting Richard there and putting it in his words is that’s an extraordinary accolade for any brand to have won an award 10 years in a row and Blackmores, and the team and yourself should be congratulated for the trust that you’ve built in the marketplace for what often historically was not the most trusted of products. But you’ve ridden the wave and fought the huge battle to bring it into the mainstream and for that, you should be congratulated.
P: Thank you very much, Wayne. Look, it’s a great knowledge meant for the work that we do behind the scenes and we do it because we believe in it, we’re passionate about it. So it’s fantastic to get this external acknowledgment of that.
W: Pam, thanks for being with us today, I appreciate your time.
P: Very welcome. Thank you.
W: If you just joined us on Health Professional Radio, then you’ve just missed my chat with Pam Stone. Now, Pam is with Blackmores Institute and she’s a Head of Education and Partnerships there and we’ve been talking about not only the fact that Blackmores has won an accolade as “The Most Trusted Vitamin Brand in 2018” but the fact that they’ve won it now for 10 years in a row and probably the only company to have done so. The good news, however, is if you’ve just joined us and missed my chat with Pam, we have a transcript on our website. You can read the whole interview again. But if you’re a listener and not a reader, you might prefer to listen to it and we have an audio archive for you on SoundCloud, on YouTube and iTunes that you can treat like a little mini-podcast. You can download it and listen to it over and over again if you want to. My name is Wayne Bucklar. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio.