Are professional pharmacy services catching on?

They are in some parts of the profession, according to the latest UTS Pharmacy Barometer

This year’s Barometer initiative run by UTS, QuintilesIMS and Bankwest found the idea of professional services is gaining ground, particularly among employee pharmacists.

However there are still doubts surrounding how to successfully implement them within a viable model.

The Barometer survey found that more than half of pharmacists (59%) stated they had started to implement new professional services in the past 12 months, compared with 14% “no” and 27% “no change”.

Services are mostly being implemented by employed pharmacists (80%), compared with pharmacist managers/pharmacists in charge (58%) and owners/owner managers (53%).

When asked to specify which services in particular pharmacists were implementing, the most common responses included:

  1. MedsCheck
  2. Vaccinations
  3. Blood pressure and cholesterol monitoring
  4. Diabetes services
  5. Clinical interventions
  6. Health checks
  7. Sleep apnoea and CPAP
  8. Home Medication Reviews
  9. Medical Certificates
  10. Compounding
  11. Health clinics
  12. Staged supply
  13. Inhaler technique
  14. Weight loss clinics/management
  15. Coeliac testing
  16. Women’s health checks
  17. Wound care
  18. Anaemia testing
  19. DNA testing
  20. Baby clinic
  21. Dietician services
  22. Breast awareness clinic
  23. Nurse consultations
  24. Wellness coaching

While the data show that pharmacy is beginning to realise the financial and professional benefit of services, many pharmacy managers and owners are still hesitant to implement them.

“Has the change to adopt professional services really started?” asks Professor Shalom (Charlie) Benrimoj, who led the UTS Barometer Survey.

“We have seen this trend for the past few years, but we’re yet to see the rubber hit the road, even in terms of future confidence as a result of change in strategy.”

In terms of focus, employed pharmacists and pharmacist managers/pharmacists say they see greater health value to consumers by removing retail-oriented products from the community pharmacy, while owners remain neutral on the matter.

However only one quarter of pharmacists believed solely focusing on dispensing, medicines and professional services to be a viable business model (24%), and the majority indicated it to be unsustainable (46%).

“Employed pharmacists seem to like the idea of a dispensing/services model although the customer attractiveness and financial viability received a lower rating. Maybe this is too radical a shift at this time,” commented Adjunct Professor John Montgomery, a member on the Barometer expert panel.

“Wariness of the business model due to a lack of understanding – better the devil you know than the one you don’t!” added Bankwest state manager and panel member, Mario Saia.

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