Pharmacists are incentivised to dispense more and more scripts under the current pharmacy model, but are “almost penalised” for spending time with the patient, argues leader
A sustainable funding model that priorities quality over quantity is needed for community pharmacy, Dr Tin Fei Sim argued at PSA21 conference on Friday.
Community pharmacy is a crucial network that ensures equitable access to medicine for Australians, she said at a conference session discussing the 7CPA.
Dr Fei Sim is the PSA’s WA Branch president as well as a co-proprietor of two community pharmacies in WA.
However she added, “The current model incentivises pharmacists to dispense more and more prescriptions.
“Any sort of clinical interventions, those activities take a longer time but unfortunately with the current funding model, the reality is that it almost penalises pharmacists for doing that.
“The more time you spend with the patient, the less remuneration you get, and that’s not a good thing,” said Dr Fei Sim.
She emphasised, “We need community pharmacy to be sustainable and viable because we need that network to ensure that we have equitable access to medicine for Australians. To fix this underlying issue we need to look at an innovative and contemporary funding model that priorities quality over quantity.”
Fellow panellist Leanne Wells, the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF), also queried the identity of community pharmacist and its perception by some consumers.
“Is community pharmacy is a retail setting or a healthcare setting? That was a major question of the King Review,” she said.
“We’ve made some forays but we’ve got a long way to go in many ways thinking about community pharmacy as a health destination in the minds of some consumers – not all.
“A broader question is how pharmacists as clinicians can be fully integrated into other parts of the system?” asked Ms Wells.
“We need look at funding models but also models of care, about ‘primary care pharmacists’ – I’m very enamoured with that idea as well. We want to get back to what we want community pharmacy to look like and where pharmacists should fit and be fully utilised.
“We need to keep in front of mind what it is that patients value, and all sorts of issues come into the value equation for patients: cost of medicines, access—accessibility of community pharmacy is such an asset—quality and choice.”
Ms Wells added that she would like to see consumers being a signatory to future Community Pharmacy Agreements.
Meanwhile Renae Beardmore, PSA national board member and former Chief Pharmacist of the ACT, said she likes the term “primary care pharmacist … because it encompasses all modalities.
“I’d personally like to see the primary care pharmacist to be acknowledged and utilised in embedded situations such as general practice and aged care,” she said.