What do patients want from pharmacy?


pharmacists in silos: pharmacist in dispensary

New research has highlighted the importance of increasing the service focus of community pharmacy

In this week’s edition of Forefront, Guild national executive director David Quilty reports on research into community attitudes conducted as part of the Guild’s CP2025 project.

The initial findings show that cost and convenience of location are the most important factors when a patient is choosing a pharmacy.

“Patients rate convenience-based services such as sick certificates and vaccinations as their most preferred service types,” Mr Quilty writes.

“There is a willingness to pay for a range of services, including some that are not currently being provided by pharmacies. These included mental health services, travel medicine, diagnosis and treatment of minor ailments and nutritional advice.

“Interestingly, patients perceive less of a difference between smaller pharmacies and larger discount or banner group pharmacies than do staff and owners.

“In fact, there is somewhat of a dichotomy between owners who believe that patients choose pharmacies on the basis of the level of health care advice and expertise provided and patients who see this advice and expertise as being consistently available from all pharmacies and who make their choices based more on cost and convenience.”

Mr Quilty writes that pharmacy staff still see the trust and strong relationships they have with patients as a strength, but are concerned that low profit margins are causing reduced staff, lower wages and increased time pressures, and thus a risk of compromising customer service.

“This concern is shared by owners who see increased pricing pressures leading to understaffing and lower services.

“There was a common view from owners, staff and patients about the value of pharmacies being more integrated with the broader health system, with increased collaboration with other health professionals and greater use of technologies like e-health records, patient apps and script reminders.”

The research has been conducted by market research provider Orima, which with strategic advisor Pottinger and the Guild is working on the CP2025 project. This has an aim of ensuring community pharmacy remains viable to 2025 and beyond.

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5 Comments

  1. Andrew
    08/03/2018

    >>>>“In fact, there is somewhat of a dichotomy between owners who believe that patients choose pharmacies on the basis of the level of health care advice and expertise provided and patients who see this advice and expertise as being consistently available from all pharmacies and who make their choices based more on cost and convenience.”

    This is HUGE (and probably unwelcome)

  2. Carl Schneider
    08/03/2018

    Pharmacy is more like the airline industry. Some consumers choose full service and some choose budget. The service offering is different but but both sets of passengers expect the same level of safety.

    So, if I may, a distinction between advice and expertise is made. Advice is considered part of the service offering. The technical expertise i.e. safety is what consumers expect to be similar between pharmacies. And it is indeed similar when assessing non-prescription medication supply by mystery shoppers. The type of pharmacy is not a factor – it is the type of pharmacy staff member.

    • Tyson Clarke
      08/03/2018

      This is why I’d be interested in seeing what kind of customers have the above perceptions

      I’ve found the most valuable customers want the “total solution” everyone has been on about but fails at implementing. Which is actually really encouraging

      • Carl Schneider
        08/03/2018

        Hi Tyson, you are right. Our research has identified that consumers that take more medicines value high service quality.

  3. pagophilus
    12/03/2018

    Most patients these days don’t want to be ripped off. If a patient undergoes minor surgery and receives a prescription for Panadeine Forte, they wonder why at one pharmacy they will pay $9.xx and at another they will pay $20, and at others somewhere in between.

    Perhaps there should be different service standards. If all you want is your prescription plus printed CMI you pay a lower price, but if you want someone to manage your medications (whatever that may mean) you pay more. But people’s penchant for lowest price would soon kill that off, as well as some chain pharmacies offering the service for no/low cost to gain customers.

    Capitalism is failing. People want everything for nothing.

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