The impact of clinical services provided by community pharmacies on the Australian healthcare system: A review of the literature

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Background: In Australia, community pharmacists are increasingly being integrated into the healthcare system. A range of services in pharmacies are government-funded aiming to prevent chronic diseases and improve the quality use of medicines. The objective of this narrative review is to evaluate the impact of existing pharmacy services and identify opportunities to better address the patients' needs. Methods: A narrative review was undertaken. First, Community Pharmacy Agreement documents between the Australian government and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia were reviewed to identify relevant community pharmacy services. Based on these, a literature search was conducted via PubMed and Google Scholar. The included articles were analysed and a proposal for further improvement of the programmes was developed. Results: Overall, five areas of community pharmacy interventions were identified: clinical interventions, medication reviews, health promotion, screening and management of chronic diseases, and support services for drug addiction. Pharmacists' interventions have led to improved asthma control, detection of diabetes and cardiovascular risk factors, reduction in smoking rates and weight, and identification of drug-related problems. The availability of vaccination services in pharmacies has contributed to increased vaccination rates. Through support programmes for drug abusers the transmission rate of blood-borne diseases was decreased. Factors that facilitate community pharmacy interventions are skilled staff, remuneration, a designated area in the pharmacy, and good relationships between health professionals. The main barriers are patients' unawareness of existing programmes, pharmacists' lack of confidence and time, and physicians' lack of involvement. To achieve integrated care for patients, the individual services should be better combined, starting with low intensity interventions and proceeding to in-depth services if required. Discussion: Community pharmacies are well located to deliver healthcare services due to convenience and accessibility. The range of services offered by community pharmacies is comprehensive. Despite this, the clinical interventions provided in pharmacies currently appear not to be coordinated. This leads to the proposal that more efforts should be put into linking the individual services. Conclusion: There is sufficient evidence for the effectiveness of most of the pharmacy services reviewed. However, the potential of the individual services might be further enhanced by interlinking the services and better integrating them with the patient care provided by GPs and other health professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmaceutical Policy and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Aug 2018


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