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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