1. Stick with the plans
Growing prescription transaction volumes by lowering prescription prices to increase grocery/retail sales is not in the New Zealand Health Strategy, Pharmacy Action Plan or Implementing Medicines New Zealand strategic plan.
What is planned is improved service quality and subsidised prescription prices to targeted population groups.
We already have a problem with geographical inequities. This will widen with the growth of discount providers who will not be setting up services in Ranfurly or Riverton any time soon.
The current “one team” approach to healthcare is about DHB providers and non-DHB providers like pharmacies and general practices working more closely together.
Business owners who are focusing on increasing prescription transaction volumes (to drive sales) with no way to materially lower their cost of dispensary operations will not, over the longer term, have the resources to work as part of an integrated team.
Free prescriptions may also damage efforts to bring healthcare closer to patients’ homes.
Consumers make decisions with no information or by comparing one product or service offer with another.
At present, most consumers are making their decision in a vacuum to pick up a script, so much so that they “pick up a script” not “buy a script”.
Buying in a vacuum means consumers tend to stick near to where the script originated or where they live. Introducing price to this decision means that a significant element of comparison begins to occur.
People on multiple medicines and people living in families on multiple medicines will travel outside their communities to get cheaper medicines.
Chances are, it will not be the patient who presents to the pharmacy, it will be a neighbour, friend or family member picking up the script.
They might wait a few days until a car is available to make the trip, going without the medicines in the meantime.
All this may jeopardise the close relations between patients and their regular treatment providers.