Call for quality over quantity

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.

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  1. Jim Tsaoucis

    “The Chemist Shop” scenario is clearly a mixture of retail and clinical attributes, and as such needs to be funded with those parameters in play. Normal market forces for retail and a reward system for clinical work. The medical profession has developed the item number model with item numbers for everything including the “kitchen sink”. So systems are in place, just have to implement them.

  2. Ai Nguyen

    With the existence of the discount chains, how can normal pharmacies be viable with quality over quantity? You need to get rid of them first. We try our best to give quality. They try their best to give quantity. At the present, they win. They expand everywhere, now in the UK and overseas, too. We close down more and more. Is that what Australians want? People go there to get quantity and go to us to get quality. They get the most of money, we get small change only.

  3. warehouse only focus on quantity, we do lots of dispensing mistakes everyday but no one cares, our owners are busy in counting dollars, sometimes 70K sale in one day. warehouses are 4 to 5 times bigger than a madical centre, but a single pharmacist is considered enough for its supervision. owners, PIC just focus on retail, perfume sales…. forget about patients… who cares.. keep money coming…patients can wait for hours .. who cares… we are cheap…they will not go anywhere..pharmacist are dispensing medicines at script in desk to keep the flow….who cares about dispensing guidelines when board is forcing 220 rx per day on pharmacists..that is current practice

  4. actnowpharmacists

    “Pharmacists are incentivised to dispense more and more” would be an incorrect statement.

    The correct statement would be that the Pharmacists are PENALISED if they don’t dispense more and more in the shortest amount of time and without asking questions. Pharmacists who want to do everything by the book are often frowned upon and are considered BAD for the business.

    I have heard stories where an employee pharmacist was being asked as to why the script numbers for the day has been low as if he/she had any control on how many people walked in the door on a given day. The owners are completely out of touch and you can’t really blame them as well. Its the guild who just keeps on getting one bad deal after another.

    They know they have already lost the battle when it comes to generating correct revenue from actual “Health Services” and have to compensate from all those cost-negative activities through the sales of potions, nappies, perfumes and what not. Not everyone can compete with warehouse so what the guild and rest of the industry does is squeeze the working pharmacist by not providing the healthy work environment , correct remuneration and job satisfaction. Pharmacists need a Union to have their say…

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