Implementation of a reimbursed medication review program: Corporate and pharmacy level strategies

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Abstract

Background:

In 2006, the Ontario drug plan greatly reduced community pharmacy reimbursement for generic drugs. In exchange, a fee-for-service medication review program was introduced to help patients better understand their medication therapy and ensure that medications were taken as prescribed. A qualitative study of community pharmacy implementation strategies was undertaken to inform a mixed methods evaluation of the program.

Purpose:

To describe strategies used by community pharmacies to implement a government-funded medication review service.

Methods:

Key informant interviews were conducted with pharmacy corporate executives and managers, as well as independent pharmacy owners. All pharmacy corporations in the province were approached; owners were purposively sampled from the registry of the pharmacist licensing body to obtain diversity in pharmacy attributes; and pharmacy managers were identified through a mix of snowball and registry sampling. Thematic qualitative coding and analysis were applied to interview transcripts.

Results:

42 key informants, including 14 executives, 15 managers/franchisees, and 11 owners, participated. The most common implementation strategy was software adaptation to flag eligible patients and to document the service. Human resource management (task shifting to technicians and increasing the technician complement), staff training, and patient identification and recruitment processes were widely mentioned. Motivational strategies including service targets and financial incentives were less frequent but controversial. Strategies typically unfolded over time, and became multifaceted. Apart from the use of targets in chain pharmacies only, strategies were similar across pharmacy ownership types.

Discussion:

Ontario community pharmacies appeared to have done little preplanning of implementation strategies. Strategies focused on service efficiency and quantity, rather than quality. Unlike other jurisdictions, many managers supported the use of targets as motivators, and very few reported feeling pressured. This detailed account of a range of implementation strategies may be of practical value to community pharmacy decision makers.

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