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Patients concerned pharmacists are ‘too busy’ for consultations

Patients fear pharmacists' workloads are too heavy for them to offer in-person health advice, says study
Patients fear pharmacists' workloads are too heavy for them to offer in-person health advice, says study

Patients value “personalised services” in community pharmacy but increasingly feel staff are too busy for consultations, according to a new study.

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.

Do you feel too busy to conduct consultations?

Margaret O'doherty, Community pharmacist

What about the patients who are too busy to listen to a few simple points about their medicines? Not to mention those who can't stop talking on their phone while handing over or collecting a prescription.

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

They just don't care like I said. They just want to pick up their meds and go and don't give a single f what you have to say. 

Chris Locum, Locum pharmacist

I am sure many pharmacists would love to meet such patients rather than the condescending, impatient and argumentative members of the public they often encounter.

Kevin Murphy, Superintendent Pharmacist

Most pharmacists are too busy getting through the day. It's not for lack of desire to do the more professionally rewarding services, it's lack of resource and funding. Ironically using tech in the right way is part of the solution. We need to remove some of the unnecessary face to face contact that does not add much value for the patient or pharnacy and automate handout of SOME of the many stable repeat prescription collections to release capacity and make the pharnacy team less busy. At the same time reduce the temptation of patients to go online, why would they if they can get the convenient access to medicines when they want and face to face care when they need it.

ABC DEF, Primary care pharmacist

I don't know how this research was done but my years of experiences in the community tells me:

- Patients DO NOT welcome the “human contact” they receive when visiting community pharmacies. All they want is to pick up their scripts and go and don't give a single f what you want to tell them.

- People DO NOT appreciate that they can “speak to a community pharmacist about their health”. To them we are 'pretend doctors' and 'glorified shopkeepers' whose only job is to pick a box off the shelf and slap a label on and to 'ambush them by saying they are too fat' according to some this morning or afternoon journalists. 



N O, Pharmaceutical Adviser

""spend more time in the consultation room with patients""

And who will pay for these consultation rooms to be open?? (assuming all the dispensing will be outsourced)

Andy Krestoff, Locum pharmacist

And they are not wrong in the majority of pharmacies

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