Pharmacy is becoming corporatised across Australia and similar countries, warns Guild national president George Tambassis
Mr Tambassis wrote in this week’s edition of Forefront that there are “a number of common trends” across the pharmacy sectors in Australia, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, the US, Canada and South Africa.
This followed Pharmintercom, the meeting of pharmacy leaders from these countries, held this year in Sydney.
“There is growing evidence of corporatisation of pharmacy with increased vertical integration in the supply chain and independent pharmacies needing to differentiate themselves from the ‘cheap, accurate and fast’ corporate pharmacies,” Mr Tambassis writes.
“There is a trend towards capitation and patient outcome based funding models, with the latter likely to become more prevalent in the future along with increasing demands from funders for demonstrated evidence of cost-effective patient outcomes.
“Traditional roles of doctors are being opened up as evidence mounts that personalised medicines care by community pharmacists utilising the full scope of their professional skills increases adherence, reduces costs across the broader health system (particularly hospital stays) and delivers better health outcomes for patients.
“Further, community pharmacies are increasingly seen as a preferred health destination for the treatment of minor ailments and general ill-health, as well as for preventative health, including immunisation, screening, smoking cessation and managing lifestyle related health risks.”
Mr Tambassis singled out the Canadian province of Alberta as the “stand out community pharmacy performer,” due to the ability of pharmacists in the province to take full responsibility for the medication management and support of patients with chronic health conditions. They can also treat readily diagnosable minor ailments.
“The independent evaluation of the ‘full scope pharmacist intervention’ by Alberta community pharmacists with patients with hypertension is a game-changer,” he says.
“This study clearly demonstrates that pharmacists who practice at the top of their skill set in the community pharmacy setting are able to significantly reduce patients’ systolic blood pressure and risk of adverse cardiac events compared with patients undergoing normal care or a partial scope pharmacist intervention.
“The study concluded that full scope community pharmacist intervention for patients with hypertension would produce nearly a million saved life years and cost savings of $15.7 billion over 30 years in Alberta from reduced cardiac related events compared with normal care.
“This is the sort of evidence that neither health policy makers nor economic agencies can afford to ignore.
“With hospital and MBS costs ballooning, a targeted and evidence-based investment to enable pharmacists in community pharmacy to practice at the top of their profession in the full medicine management of patients with hypertension is a no-brainer.”
Mr Tambassis also praised pharmacy owners Swarup Afsar (777 Nollamarra, WA) and Elise Apolloni (Capital Chemist Wanniassa, ACT) who presented at the meeting.
“It is clear that pharmacies like Swarup’s and Elise’s are world-leading and exhibit many of the characteristics that will define successful community pharmacies in the future,” he said.
These characteristics include:
- a strong focus on personalised medication support for patients with chronic health conditions;
- pharmacists who continue to enhance their professional skills so they can treat patients with a wide range of health conditions;
- a patient focused model of care where the pharmacy works collaboratively with other health professionals as part of a local health team; and
- pharmacies becoming health and wellbeing hubs building on their core foundations of trust, professionalism, access and convenience.