When looking at changes in practice, we must take into account that there are two major elements of such changes: the introduction of new services to ensure the viability of the profession, and how such services fit into existing business and professional models.
Those who were at PAC10 last year may have heard an excellent presentation by Bill Zellmer from the United States who pointed out that to meet the needs of the public and ensure our survival as a health profession, pharmacy practices must shift their primary mission from supplying medicines to helping people make the best use of medicines – that is, also provide professional services in addition to dispensing.
He emphasised that such an outcome requires a change in the pharmacist’s self-concept, which in turn entails the development of a ‘strong moral compass and a deep commitment to professionalism’.A very interesting observation to arise from the presentation was that many pharmacists lead ‘divided lives’ in that they know what they need to do to help patients make the best use of medicines but they often do not act on this knowledge, partly because they feel existing practices within their pharmacy hinder them in doing so or because they are content in carrying on the way they do business, because that is the way it has always been done.
This results in either services not being offered or simply being added on to existing operations in the pharmacy without any real consideration being given to their most effective introduction or how their introduction will affect existing operations.
It is important, therefore, that pharmacies prepare and adapt for the introduction of new services. Clinical interventions and MedsChecks are cases in point where, to gain maximum benefit for the patient and the pharmacy practice, the model of business will need to change.
Interestingly, it appears from anecdotal evidence that most pharmacists recognise the need for change, but not how to implement it.
To successfully implement the changes required to transition pharmacy from a primarily dispensing role to one in which professional services are an increasing focus requires the full involvement of pharmacists and their staff, policy makers, educators and other health stakeholders.
Policy makers in Australia have already signalled their acceptance of the need for change by including additional professional services into the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement.