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General practitioners' perceptions of the roles of community pharmacists and their willingness to explore collaboration with pharmacists in primary care
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  • Joy Boon Ka Chong,
  • Clivia Yao Hua Yap,
  • Shawn Lien Ler Tan,
  • Xuan Rong Thong,
  • Yang Fang,
  • Helen E. Smith
Joy Boon Ka Chong
Watsons Personal Care Stores Pte Ltd

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Clivia Yao Hua Yap
Watsons Personal Care Stores Pte Ltd
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Shawn Lien Ler Tan
Ministry of Health Holdings Pte Ltd
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Xuan Rong Thong
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
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Yang Fang
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
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Helen E. Smith
Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine
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Abstract

Background Community pharmacists (CPs) have the capacity to contribute to patient care given their expertise in medication and accessibility to residents in the community. However, multidisciplinary patient care programmes where CPs collaborate with general practitioners (GPs) in patient care is rare in Singapore despite increasing healthcare demand. Objectives This study explores GPs’ perceptions of CPs’ current roles and GPs’ ideas for and attitudes towards interprofessional collaboration. Methods Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 20 private GPs from August to December 2020 via an online video-chat platform. GPs were recruited from the Primacy Care Research Network (pcRn), primary care networks, and using snowballing strategies. All interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded thematically. Results Current working relationships between GPs and CPs appeared amicable but limited. GPs appreciate the existing roles of CP: dispensing drugs not stocked in their practices and clarifying prescription details. Still, GPs appeared to rarely consider collaborative working. GPs acknowledged that CPs could enhance patient care with initiatives including medication reconciliation and advising on using medical devices. It was suggested that CPs could coordinate the purchase of drugs for primary care networks to improve GPs’ inventory management, but less enthusiasm was expressed for clinical collaborations with CPs. Major concerns about GP-CP clinical collaborations included direct competition with GPs’ own business interests, perceived low acceptability of pharmacy-led services by patients (citing extra time and cost), threat to continuity of care and the absence of a shared patient electronic health record system. Current funding mechanisms do not enable reimbursement of clinical services provided by CPs. Adoption of telemedicine technologies and governmental financial support were identified as possible enablers of GP-CP collaboration. Conclusions GPs saw potential in CPs’ increased involvement in patient care but perceived multiple barriers. Strategies focusing on overcoming these barriers could enable GP-CP collaboration to enhance patient care.