Pharmacy services and patient choice: Insights into differences between patient groups

Sharon Phul, Stacey L. Cooper, Judith A. Cantrill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Objective: To use data from the UK electronic transmission of prescriptions (ETP) pilot to examine how and why choice and use of pharmacy services differ between patients, and how introduction of new services might impact on patient choice. Method: Patients were invited to participate in the ETP pilot in three consortia across the UK. A postal questionnaire was distributed to 276 participating patients, and 211 (76%) were returned. Questionnaires were also completed by 64 patients who had actively chosen not to take part in the ETP pilot. Semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted with 26 questionnaire respondents who had opted to use a mail order pharmacy participating in ETP. Key findings: 54% of patients participating in ETP could have their prescription collected by pharmacy staff, but only half of these (52%) had made use of the service. Patients found it convenient to collect the prescription themselves (35%) and/or preferred to collect it themselves (34%). These patients were however still happy to use the new service offered by ETP. Reasons for using the same pharmacy centred on practical aspects, such as proximity to the GP practice (65%) and short waiting times (27%). Patients also positively rated their experiences of obtaining their prescription from their GP practice (80%) and the medication from their pharmacy (82%). Patients who were offered both ETP and mail order pharmacy but chose not to participate (n = 31) were more opposed to the mail order aspect than to ETP (70% vs 14% respectively). Patients not participating who were offered ETP without mail order pharmacy (n = 33) most frequently stated that they found the current system to be convenient (23%). Interviewees using the mail order pharmacy found not having to visit either the GP practice or pharmacy to be convenient and a repeat prescription reminder service to be advantageous. Conclusion: The introduction of ETP and mail order to pharmacy services does have some impact on patient choice. Different aspects of pharmacy services appeal to different groups of patients. Convenience was paramount to the majority of patients in this study, but its definition differed between patients. The data will support the pharmacy profession in developments that enhance patient choice and optimise service use.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)233-242
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Journal of Pharmacy Practice
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


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