End of the road for pharmacy reward programs?
Published Thursday, December 6, 2012 4:59PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, December 6, 2012 6:40PM MST
Alberta's College of Pharmacists had suggested scrapping the use of any incentive programs and on Thursday they moved closer to making a decision to remove all rewards.
The plan has received plenty of resistance from consumers. A separate phone line was created to handle all calls from Albertans looking to voice their opinions on point systems and incentive programs in pharmacies.
The council met on Thursday and, after reviewing input from pharmacists and the general public, decided to delay their decision on the matter for at least a few weeks.
The college and 75 per cent of the pharmacists who are members say they don't like prescription purchases being tied to reward programs.
The claim it negatively affects the relationship between pharmacists and patients. It impacts credibility and there are concerns it could actually affect the care patients receive. There are fears patients would shop around for the best rewards program and not the best pharmacist.
“In order for our profession to be seen as credible, people should choose based of the value of the services and the merits of the services we are providing,” says Graham Anderson, an independent pharmacist.
“As a pharmacist for Safeway, I feel I provide loyalty programs that have no effect on behaviour and the quality of care that I provide,” says Ben Bhatti, a pharmacist with Canada Safeway.
The college’s decision could have a major impact on the Airmiles company. The organization has started an online campaign encouraging shoppers to complain to the college about the potential of losing out on Airmiles when they buy their prescriptions.
Saskatchewan and Manitoba considered adopting similar reward program restrictions but decided there was not enough evidence to suggest patients were being swayed by the incentives.