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New research — Neighbourhood pharmacies increasingly important to Canadian patients and consumers

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New research presented by the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada (Neighbourhood Pharmacies) at the Canadian Foundation for Pharmacy 2014 “Pharmacy Forum” on October 15 demonstrates that Canadian patients and consumers believe their neighbourhood pharmacies could play a greater role in providing convenient, effective, hands-on healthcare services.

This expectation is founded on Canadian patients’ and consumers’ trust in their neighbourhood pharmacists and recognition of their specialized knowledge of medications.

“Canadians have a strong expectation that their neighbourhood pharmacies are becoming more important in routinely accessing primary healthcare,” said Denise Carpenter, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, who presented the Association’s research, “That expectation is driven by the belief that neighbourhood pharmacies provide enhanced convenience for patients and consumers alike.

“In addition to their established capabilities in dispensing medications, counselling on over-the-counter products and assessing the interactions of various types of medications, Canadians are increasingly looking to their neighbourhood pharmacies for additional, hands-on healthcare services, of which influenza vaccinations are among the most widely offered and recognized,” said Carpenter.

Currently, each province in Canada has its own regulations allowing pharmacists to perform hands-on healthcare services. As such, the research showed that, patients and consumers displayed varying degrees of knowledge about the specific healthcare services available in their neighbourhood pharmacies. Vaccine administrations were mentioned most frequently by research subjects, followed by wellness and preventive services, and writing/changing prescriptions, mentioned by 25 per cent of respondents.

“The bottom line message for neighbourhood pharmacies is to add new hands-on patient care services incrementally and thoughtfully, and to ensure that Canadians’ experience with new services fully reflects the high standards of care and compassion they have come to expect.” Added Carpenter, “Neighbourhood Pharmacies’ research suggests that the key to managing Canadians’ expectations will be emphasizing pharmacists’ credentials as healthcare providers, and creating the time and space needed to deliver these important health services in the pharmacy setting.”

Neighbourhood Pharmacies conducted three types of research in 2014, including broad public opinion research, baseline behavioural research, and targeted hypertension research with pharmacists and patients.

Neighbourhood Pharmacies Research

Getting to know what patients and consumers think of neighbourhood pharmacies

 

Key research analysis

·         Patients and consumers value the pharmacist’s role in the broader healthcare system.

·         Their trust in pharmacists is derived from pharmacists’ specialized knowledge of medications.

·         Both patients and consumers are looking for more convenience in receiving broader healthcare services and see pharmacies as a possible venue.

However, their lack of understanding of how additional services can be delivered in a pharmacy environment is at risk if governments and pharmacies roll out services too fast without educating Canadians. 

Research findings

·         Patients and consumers saw the role of the pharmacist as filling prescriptions and over-the-counter consultation, as well as providing other services, such as assessing prescribed medications for potential interactions and administering vaccines.

·         When comparing the roles of pharmacists and physicians, most believed that pharmacists have more specialized knowledge about medications.

·         They were interested in expanded healthcare services provided in pharmacies, for a number of reasons, including improving convenience and efficiency of the healthcare system.

·         Patients and consumers mentioned a number of potential barriers to growing the number of healthcare services provided in pharmacies, including concerns about the qualifications of pharmacists and creating the time/space to deliver these new services.

Bottom line

·         Neighbourhood pharmacies must incrementally build on their credibility with patients and consumers if they wish to deliver additional services beyond dispending and advising on medicines.

o   This includes marketing these individual initiatives with specific mention of their credentials and the steps that have been taken to ensure the pharmacy environment has been adapted to deliver each unique service.