Providing patient care in community pharmacies in Australia

Ann Pharmacother. 2005 Nov;39(11):1911-7. doi: 10.1345/aph.1G165. Epub 2005 Oct 11.


Objective: To describe Australia's community pharmacy network in the context of the health system and outline the provision of services.

Data synthesis: The 5000 community pharmacies form a key component of the healthcare system for Australians, for whom health expenditures represent 9% of the Gross Domestic Product. A typical community pharmacy dispenses 880 prescriptions per week. Pharmacists are key partners in the Government's National Medicines Policy and contribute to its objectives through the provision of cognitive pharmaceutical services (CPS). The Third Community Pharmacy Agreement included funding for CPS including medication review and the provision of written drug information. Funding is also provided for a quality assurance platform with which the majority of pharmacies are accredited. Fifteen million dollars (Australian) have been allocated to research in community pharmacy, which has focused on achieving quality use of medicines (QUM), as well as developing new CPS and facilitating change. Elements of the Agreements have taken into account QUM principles and are now significant drivers of practice change. Although accounting for 10% of remuneration for community pharmacy, the provision of CPS represents a significant shift in focus to view pharmacy as a service provider. Delivery of CPS through the community pharmacy network provides sustainability for primary health care due to improvement in quality presumably associated with a reduction in healthcare costs.

Conclusions: Australian pharmacy practice is moving strongly in the direction of CPS provision; however, change does not occur easily. The development of a change management strategy is underway to improve the uptake of professional and business opportunities in community pharmacy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Community Pharmacy Services / standards
  • Community Pharmacy Services / trends
  • Humans
  • Patient Care / economics
  • Patient Care / standards*
  • Pharmacies / economics
  • Pharmacies / standards*