According to the 2011 study by the CACDS (Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores), 42% of pharmacies in Canada offer “expanded services”. Broadly speaking, this means that pharmacies within the community offer other healthcare services in addition to dispensing prescriptions. This might be anything from weight management assistance to services for patients with depression and chronic illnesses, or it might even include specialty services like home visits or geriatric care.
Among the most popular expanded services are smoking cessation assistance, diabetes maintenance and medication management. Expanded services are more common in pharmacies located in urban areas than in rural areas and reflects the vital role pharmacies have in meeting the healthcare needs of Canadians. One general trend in expanded services is in the role they play in the maintenance of ongoing conditions or in preventative healthcare measures. This consultative role for pharmacists dates from the earliest days of medicine, when there were less clear divisions between doctors and other medical care providers, and for many people, a pharmacist is still one of their first points of contact for health concerns and questions.
From a clinical research perspective, the pharmacists’ involved role in healthcare makes them part of the data gathering process for studying patient behaviour. They play an important part in ensuring that drugs conform to strict regulations for consumer protection by regularly reviewing the medications taken by customers, providing information on medication interactions, and having a realistic outlook on how patients behave outside of the laboratory. Offering extended services helps pharmacists carry out these pharmaceutical quality assurance activities.
Extended services also make sense for a pharmaceutical sales representative, as the purchasing needs of pharmacies are influenced by the services they provide. For example, a pharmacy that offers smoking cessation help is going to necessarily sell more products designed to help with this particular goal.
How do you think expanded services effect the pharmaceutical industry?