State of uncertainty


Confidence low in community pharmacy, but professional services offering a beacon of hope, pharmacy barometer finds  

The community pharmacy sector remains in a state of uncertainty, according to the results of the 2016 UTS Community Pharmacy Barometer, an annual UTS and Bankwest-led initiative used to track pharmacy sector confidence.

The score for this year’s Barometer was 85.9 out of 200, with a score of 100 representing neutral confidence. The result indicates a continuing sense of neutrality among community pharmacists about the future of the profession.

The outcome is not surprising, the UTS team believes, with a number of reviews outlined in the 6CPA currently underway, plus the continuing impact of the Expanded and Accelerated Price Reduction policy.

“Community pharmacy is still unsure about its future prospects. Although the 6th CPA provided a temporary rise in confidence, we are back to 2012 levels,” says Professor Shalom Benrimoj, Head of the UTS Graduate School of Health 

Overall confidence decreased 3% in the past year, returning to the fairly neutral values seen when the Barometer began in 2012. While increases were anticipated, the neutral stance remains, potentially as pharmacists wait to see the full impact of the 6CPA, said the UTS team.

However, despite this uncertainty, nearly two-thirds of community pharmacists (60%) say they have started delivering professional services.

“It’s pleasing to see that, regardless of the challenges facing the sector, the majority of pharmacists are incorporating professional services into their pharmacy programs,” Professor Benrimoj says.

Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly indicated they preferred a business model change strongly oriented towards a health destination service based model (84%), over a dispensary based model (36%), or a discount model (36%).

Meanwhile, 40% of owners believe that the value of their pharmacies will remain the same over the next 12 months. However an additional one in eight believe they will see a significant increase in the value of their businesses over the next year – the highest predicted increase in the history of the Barometer.

In contrast to media reporting on tensions between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Australian Medical Association, 80% of pharmacists reported positive relationships with local GPs. This finding highlights the wealth of opportunities inherent in multidisciplinary collaboration, which will position pharmacists to play a key role in the delivery of new primary health care solutions. 

“The public hype about bad professional relationships between pharmacists and GPs is posturing by political leaders,” Professor Benrimoj says.

“On the ground, community pharmacists and general medical practitioners are working together extremely collaboratively.”

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