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Out of pocket or out of control: A qualitative analysis of healthcare professional stakeholder involvement in pharmaceutical policy change in Ireland
O'Brien, Gary L.
Background: Mandatory co-payments attached to prescription medicines on the Irish public health insurance [General Medical Services (GMS)] scheme have undergone multiple iterations since their introduction in October 2010. To date, whilst patients’ opinions on said co-payments have been evaluated, the perspectives of community pharmacists and general practitioners (GPs) have not. Objective: To explore the involvement and perceptions of community pharmacists and GPs on this pharmaceutical policy change. Methods: A qualitative study using purposive sampling alongside snowballing recruitment was used. Nineteen interviews were conducted in a Southern region of Ireland. Data were analysed using the Framework Approach. Results: Three major themes emerged: 1) the withered tax-collecting pharmacist; 2) concerns and prescribing patterns of physicians; and 3) the co-payment system – impact and sustainability. Both community pharmacists and GPs accepted the theoretical concept of a co-payment on the GMS scheme as it prevents moral hazard. However, there were multiple references to the burden that the current method of co-payment collection places on community pharmacists in terms of direct financial loss and reductions in workplace productivity. GPs independently suggested that a co-payment system may inhibit moral hazard by GMS patients in the utilisation of GP services. It was unclear to participants what evidence is guiding the GMS co-payment fee changes. Conclusion: Interviewees accepted the rationale for the co-payment system, but reform is warranted.
General medical services , Co-payment , Framework analysis , Health policy , Community pharmacy , Primary care
O'Brien, G. L., Sinnott, S.-J., O'Flynn, B., Walshe, V., Mulcahy, M. and Byrne, S. (2020) 'Out of pocket or out of control: A qualitative analysis of healthcare professional stakeholder involvement in pharmaceutical policy change in Ireland', Health Policy. doi: 10.1016/j.healthpol.2020.02.011