Background: In recent years, the pharmacy profession has moved towards more patient-oriented services. Some examples are medication review, screening and monitoring for disease, and prescribing. The new services are intended to be in close collaboration with general practitioners (GPs) yet little is known of how GPs in New Zealand perceive these new services. Objective To examine GPs' perceptions of pharmacists' new services.
Setting: Study was undertaken at GPs' practices in two localities in New Zealand.
Methods: Qualitative, face to face, semi-structured interviews were undertaken of 18 GPs. The cohort included GPs with less/more than 20 years of practice, and GPs who had experience of working in localities where some patients had undergone a medication review (Medicines Use Review, MUR) by community pharmacists. GPs were asked to share their perceptions about pharmacists providing some new services. Data were thematically analysed with constant comparison using NVivo 8 software. Using a business strategic planning approach, themes were further analysed and interpreted as the services' potential Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOTs).
Main outcomes measure: GPs' perceptions of pharmacists' new services.
Results: GPs were more supportive of pharmacists' playing active roles in medication review and less supportive of pharmacists practising screening-monitoring and prescribing. Discussions Pharmacists' knowledge and skills in medication use and the perceived benefits of the services to patients were considered the potential strengths of the services. Weaknesses centred around potential patient confusion and harm, conflict and irritation to GPs' practice, and the potential to fragment patient-care. Opportunities were the possibilities of improving communication, and having a close collaboration and integration with GPs' practice. Apparent threats were the GPs' perceptions of a related, and not renumerated, increase in their workloads, and the perception of limited benefit to patients.
Conclusion: Pharmacists should exploit their own strengths and the potential opportunities for these services, and reduce any weaknesses and threats. A possible strategic plan should include increased effective communication, piloting services, and the integration of some services into medical practices.