Community pharmacies of all types are meeting the expectations of patients, attracting high levels of satisfaction and trust, according to initial findings of the Pharmacy Guild’s Community Pharmacy 2025 (CP2025) project.
The Guild says CP2025 is an all-encompassing, no holds-barred initiative looking at the future of community pharmacy with a thorough consideration of all the key trends, drivers and risks.
Corporate-advisory firm Pottinger and market-research provider Orima are partners with the Guild on the project. Initial results from Orima’s focus groups and quantitative surveys found that cost and convenience of location are the most important factors for patients in choosing a pharmacy.
The Guild says patient feedback highlighted the importance of increasing community pharmacies’ service focus. Patients rate convenience-based services such as sick certificates and vaccinations as their most preferred service types and the research indicates a willingness among patients to pay for a range of services, including some that are not currently being provided by pharmacies. These include mental-health services, travel medicine, diagnosis and treatment of minor ailments, and nutritional advice.
Interestingly, the Guild notes, 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 healthcare 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.
The research found that pharmacy staff regard the trusted, one-on-one relationships that pharmacies have with their patients as a strength, but that they are concerned over declining profit margins leading to reduced staff numbers, lower wages and increased time pressures, with a risk of compromising customer service. This concern is shared by owners, who see increased pricing pressures leading to understaffing and lower services.
A common view from owners, staff and patients is of the value in pharmacies being more integrated with the broader health system, further collaboration with other healthcare professionals and greater use of technologies involving such areas as e-health records, patient apps and script reminders.
Further CP2025 findings and a road map will be presented at APP2018 (May 3-6 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre].