Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist June 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist June 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
The PGA survey of 548 pharmacies found a collapse in
business confidence among some pharmacy owners in
their ability to continue to offer a full range of services
and opening hours for their patients.
It said that the services most at risk of being stopped,
reduced or increased in price include diabetes, asthma
and chronic disease support services and blood
pressure and other health checks. A week later the
audit report (www.ncoa.gov.au) landed with a thump.
It said: ‘Encouraging greater competition within the
sector could be undertaken by moving to deregulate
pharmacy ownership and location rules. Such reform
would be expected to lead to more efficient delivery
and the development of alternative retail models –
such as pharmacists available to dispense medicines
It also contained a glimmer of hope: ‘Offsetting the impact
on pharmacy incomes under this reform would require
consideration of a number of issues, including providing
pharmacists with opportunities to provide a greater range
of services to their customers’.
Unfortunately the report declined to give examples of
what this ‘greater range of services’ might include.
Looking around the pharmacy landscape, examples
abound. Pharmacies around Australia have been
providing health and professional services for years –
with a bit of help from their friends.
The success of these services owes much to the
commitment by many banner groups and retail brands
to develop and roll out fee-for-service clinics and
health services for a range of conditions.
They have become mentors and agents of change,
helping community pharmacies move to business
models which include paid services.
Ten years ago many pharmacists found it difficult to
accept the idea of charging a fee for a service rather
than a product. Today many pharmacies charge for a
range of services – flu vaccination clinics for example.
Melbourne-based pharmacy researcher Dr Alison
Roberts, who was heavily involved in the
Pharmaceutical Society’s Health destination trial, says
that many pharmacy groups employ pharmacists
to develop professional services and to help their
members implement them.
‘ This facilitation role, if done well, is incredibly
important. Evidence from PSA’s Health Destination
Pharmacy trial, as well as other research both within
pharmacy and in other primary healthcare settings,
shows the importance of having support and coaching
to effectively implement professional services,’ she said.
‘Some of the groups are also designing pharmacy
layouts with greater regard to professional service
delivery and so they include aspects such as private
consultation areas and areas in which screening and
monitoring services can take place. Some have also
developed IT-based systems (e.g. text reminders) that
facilitate follow-up and contact with other health
professionals. In many cases they are going to the next
step and actually centrally coordinating services such as
in-pharmacy screening and monitoring, and flu clinics.
‘I do think having group support behind them in the
form of local area marketing and other promotional
material (leaflets, window displays and so on), has
made it easier for pharmacists and their staff to ask for
payment for certain services.’
However, pharmacy business consultant Bruce Annabel
warned that pharmacies should not discount their fees.
He said the real opportunity is to make services an
integral part of what the pharmacy offers.
‘ They should be bolted to the overall pharmacy offering.
They give customers reasons to visit the pharmacy and
they can replace income lost from price disclosure.’
However, he warns that the services need to be
consistent. They could not rely on one pharmacist;
everyone in the pharmacy had to be committed to
providing the same high level of service.
Community pharmacist Carolyn Wynen, a part-owner
of the Casey Central Chemmart in Victoria, is a strong
supporter of health services in pharmacy.
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