Exploring patient perceptions of pharmacy practice in community pharmacies
A large proportion of community pharmacists is passionate about their profession and would like to extend their services to their communities. In order to achieve this goal the public needs to be aware of, and understand, the services that community pharmacy offers. In return it is necessary for the profession to have a clear understanding of the knowledge that patients have of those services that community pharmacists can offer. The changing role of the pharmacist from that of a compounder and dispenser to one of pharmacotherapy manager, is examined. The scope of pharmacy practice now incorporates patient centred care. Without moving the patient from the centre of the scene more and more pressure is mounting for more effective medicine regimes. Medicine optimisation and evidence-based pharmaceutical care as an emerging concept to achieve higher quality and more effective pharmaceutical care are explored. This study set out to assess how patients perceive pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical care in the community environment and further, to evaluate patients' awareness and understanding of pharmacy practice, pharmacy services and pharmaceutical care. The study was done in the Ring group of pharmacies and focussed on pharmacy patrons of these pharmacies which are located in Gauteng and the North West region of South Africa. A qualitative approach was considered to be best to assess patient knowledge. A close-ended format questionnaire was used as it eliminated the possibility of respondents marking the right answers by chance. Convenience sampling was used as a non-probability sampling technique. The study population consisted of clients, both male and female frequenting the Ring pharmacies. The patrons of these pharmacies were invited to complete a self-administered survey and answered questionnaires were accepted until a count of one hundred was reached. The results of this study have shown that many patients are ignorant with the notion of pharmaceutical care. They are not aware of the pharmacy services available and therefore are not demanding these services. The researcher urges the pharmacy profession to educate their patients about the services that they are willing and able to provide. Better informed patients with regards to services rendered can result in better patient health outcomes.