, Volume 32, Issue 2, pp 130-138
Date: 18 Dec 2009

Flexibility in community pharmacy: a qualitative study of business models and cognitive services

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Objective To identify the capacity of current pharmacy business models, and the dimensions of organisational flexibility within them, to integrate products and services as well as the perceptions of viability of these models. Methods Fifty-seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with community pharmacy owners or managers and support staff in 30 pharmacies across Australia. A framework of organisational flexibility was used to analyse their capacity to integrate services and perceptions of viability. Data were analysed using the method of constant comparison by two independent researchers. Results The study found that Australian community pharmacies have used the four types of flexibility to build capacity in distinct ways and react to changes in the local environment. This capacity building was manifested in four emerging business models which integrate services to varying degrees: classic community pharmacy, retail destination pharmacy, health care solution pharmacy and networked pharmacy. The perception of viability is less focused on dispensing medications and more focused on differentiating pharmacies through either a retail or services focus. Strategic flexibility appeared to offer pharmacies the ability to integrate and sustainably deliver services more successfully than other types, as exhibited by health care solution and networked pharmacies. Conclusion Active support and encouragement to transition from being dependent on dispensing to implementing services is needed. The study showed that pharmacies where services were implemented and showed success are those strategically differentiating their businesses to become focused health care providers. This holistic approach should inevitably influence the sustainability of services.