The pharmacy profession remains pessimistic about its future, but sees opportunities for a greater focus on professional services in the next Community Pharmacy Agreement, according to the latest UTS Pharmacy Barometer.
The barometer, on which a score of 100 represents neutral confidence, showed that in October 2013 after a year of price disclosures, the confidence sat at 61.2, down from 86 in November 2012. The figure has risen slightly to 68.9 this year.
Chief Executive Officer of PSA, Dr Lance Emerson, said the barometer showed support for increased Community Pharmacy Agreement (CPA) funds to be committed to professional pharmacist services.
“This view is aligned with the PSA 6CPA paper released recently, which calls for a greater focus on the provision of professional services,” Dr Emerson said.
“Significantly, the barometer also found 75 per cent of respondents saw professional pharmacist services as the greatest future opportunity. The problem is there has been a decline in federal government funding for them, from 4.9% (4CPA), to 4.1% in the current CP.
“The PSA 6CPA member discussion paper calls for much stronger focus and funding for professional pharmacist services – this is supported by our 18,000 members and affirmed in the UTS survey.
“The UTS report also shows that two-thirds of pharmacists supported a variable dispensing fee based on the amount of patient interaction.
“This supports PSA’s discussion paper which proposes a variable fee based on patient interaction. Dispensing should be seen as a part of continuum of pharmacist services, with remuneration based on the time pharmacists spend with the patient,” Dr Emerson said.
However, Dr Emerson said that he was deeply concerned that two-thirds of owners, managers and pharmacists-in-charge intended to replace lost revenue by cutting staff costs.
“There is a better option, and PSA’s Heath Destination Pharmacy model, to be released soon, offers a solution that includes a non-dispensing pharmacist in the pharmacy,” he said.
The pilot of this program shows this model met consumer’s needs but also resulted in significantly increased profits, mainly through non-government funds. The model relies entirely on professional pharmacist input, with the staff and business system focus on health and minor ailment services.
“So rather than reduce staff numbers, the Heath Destination Pharmacy model helps re-focus them. I would encourage pharmacists to register interest for the next stage of Health Destination Pharmacy to ensure a more financially sustainable, health focused consumer service,” Dr Emerson said.
Source: Pharmaceutical Society of Australia