Make changes on evidence, not perception

Pharmacy Guild executive director David Quilty has stressed the importance of using solid evidence to support any policy and business decisions impacting on community pharmacy.

Writing in this week’s edition of Forefront, Quilty outlined several Guild data-gathering projects which have scrutinised the sector and shone light on challenges and opportunities.

These include a “detailed analysis of the community pharmacy supply chain with the assistance of the logistics experts at PricewaterhouseCoopers” currently underway.

“The objective is to enable pharmacies to better understand how they can extract maximum value from their purchasing decisions and inform policy-makers who are interested in the efficiency and competitiveness of the medicines supply chain,” Quilty writes.

As well as the supply chain analysis, Quilty also highlighted the importance of its geo-spatial analysis of community pharmacy, conducted by MacroPlan Dimasi.

“This national geo-spatial database provides a detailed picture of the high levels of accessibility and consumer choice in community pharmacy,” he says.

“The ScriptMap dispensing remuneration tool has been invaluable in helping individual pharmacies understand the impact of PBS reforms and is a ‘must have’ for many financial institutions when pharmacies are bought and sold.

“A new version of ScriptMap, which is aligned with the current PBS remuneration environment, is being developed for release at APP in March 2017.

“Over many years, the Guild’s mystery shopper program has built an understanding of the consumer benefits of the pharmacy-only medicine schedules as well as informing the Quality Care Pharmacy Program (QCPP) and the S2/S3 related training of community pharmacy staff.

“Over the past 18 months, the Guild has built on this work through its Customer Experience Index (CEI). Some 1,000 pharmacies around Australia have been visited and had their customer experience personally assessed through more than 8,000 interviews with patients as they leave the store.”

He says the CEI results have validated the 90%+ customer satisfaction results from the independent market research undertaken during the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement.

“In particular, the CEI has confirmed that pharmacy staff consistently do an excellent job in ensuring that patients have the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their medicine requirements. 

“It found that seven out of ten patients would recommend their pharmacy as providing highly valued health services. 

“The CEI has also identified that patients support their pharmacies offering professional services, with blood pressure testing, diabetes related services and vaccinations the three most frequently sought after in-pharmacy services. Patients want to know more about pharmacy services and strongly prefer that they be delivered from private consulting rooms and areas.”

The move from reliance on dispensing to a greater focus on professional services is also being informed by several research and development projects, he says.

Quilty says that these initiatives highlight the importance of ensuring that decisions made about community pharmacy are formed from a strong, accurate evidence base.

“Whether it is pharmacies themselves, their business advisers or government policy-makers, it is critically important that all decisions impacting the future direction of community pharmacy are evidence-based; and not taken on a whim or influenced by subjective observations and untested perceptions.”

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