Patients welcome the “human contact” they receive when visiting community pharmacies and many respondents said they would “prefer a pharmacy service with imperfections [over] no service at all in their community”, PhD student Evina Paloumpi said of her research.
People appreciate that they can “speak to a community pharmacist about their health” and that they can have a consultation in a pharmacy “without the need for an appointment,” she added.
Ms Paloumpi is in the final stages of her three-year PhD, which looks at the future of services in community pharmacy and is sponsored by Sigma Pharmaceuticals. She showed the initial findings from her research while presenting at the Sigma conference in Cebu, the Philippines last month (February 19).
The research includes examining the public perception of community pharmacy services, and conducting interviews with patients.
“Good communication”, the convenient location of pharmacies and a personalised service were important factors for patients, Ms Paloumpi said. However, people feel they are “losing that [personal] contact due to how busy community pharmacies are”, she added.
She highlighted the importance, going forward, of ensuring the pharmacy workload “allows the pharmacist to spend more time in the consultation room with patients”. Ms Paloumpi linked this statement to a to a comment by Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee CEO Simon Dukes that “creating capacity” is an important step for the sector.
Patients “cautious” about online pharmacy
Although patients appreciate the convenience of online pharmacies, Ms Paloumpi’s research reveals that they “are also cautious about it” and “would not like to see” technology replacing personal contact.
“People are worried about the divide that the expansion of technology might cause [in] older generations [who] are not that familiar with IT,” she added.
Other concerns patients have about digital healthcare relate to confidentiality, and Ms Paloumpi said it would be beneficial for pharmacists to make sure that contact with patients is maintained, to avoid excluding any patient populations.
Ms Paloumpi concluded that a combination of pharmacists taking steps to engage with patients and being “supported with remuneration” has the “potential to transform pharmaceutical care” in the future.