Tip of the Week: Consider the Pharmacy Part of Health Services Planning


Health service planning involves a myriad of stakeholders to ensure their sustainability and their integration into other aspects of community health.

It’s been said that it takes a village, and that is certainly true for pharmacies. Pharmacy services are often developed by personnel who specialize in that area and have a vested interest. That is not at all unimportant, but a needs assessment of patients in the surrounding area represents a higher stage of planning to move beyond the pharmacist’s personal interests and into what can be done to best serve the neighboring population.

Furthermore, health service planning involves a myriad of stakeholders to ensure their sustainability and their integration into other aspects of community health. This integration is necessary achieve the endorsement of key stakeholders and be a greater part of wellness initiatives that move us toward being healthier people living in better places.

Franco-Trigo et al described their collaborative health service planning process in developing a community pharmacy service.1 They identified a host of stakeholders with potential input, clarifying the reasons that these stakeholders are key to success. These reasons include legitimacy (due to the responsibility for patients’ health and medication); knowledge of the different roles that varied health care professionals might undertake; ability to provide or create data; influence (including political influence for local policy and networking); research and training capabilities; coordinating health care activities; innovativeness; and ability to disseminate health-related information, including to the lay media.1

The authors also produced a list of stakeholders such as patients, advocates, scientific organizations, governmental agencies, philanthropic non-profits, scientific organizations, academia and research groups, media, and private insurance. They further stratified the stakeholders by level of influence and interest into: (a) players with higher influence and interest; (b) context-setters with high levels of interest but low influence; (c) subjects, or those with low levels of influence and high levels of interest; and (d) crowd, those with low levels of influence and interest. The researchers then performed a network analysis to determine the stakeholders’ number of ties, density, and centralization structure.1

Critical stakeholders were those with high interest and influence as well as those with network ties central to other stakeholders under consideration. Their analysis, which included responses to surveys from the key stakeholders, resulted in a “stakeholder map” and a recommendation for a cardiovascular disease prevention service that incorporated patient advocacy groups, the pharmaceutical industry, and specific non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These groups provided advice on the service and suggested that it must be responsive to real population needs, must not undermine physician services, must include properly trained pharmacists, and should be appropriately scalable. Having given that advice and given incentive for buy-in, the groups then asked how they could be of assistance in the process.1

There are a number of important subject areas all touched upon here. These include strategic planning, business planning, marketing, and implementation science, to name a few. Performing work like that undertaken in this research, even if not nearly as formal and extensive, requires considerable preparation, effort, and time. However, the rewards are often several fold. Imagine being truly integrated into a health care delivery system and having advocates throughout the business, lay, and professional communities rather than having these people serve as barriers. The likelihood of successful launch and sustained growth and influence is much greater, and the pharmacy personnel involved will become more connected with the community and patients they serve.

Additional information about Implementing Value-Added Pharmacist Services and Business Planning can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e.

Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, is a professor of social and behavioral pharmacy at Touro University California College of Pharmacy.


1. Franco-Trigo L, Marques-Sanchez P, Tudball J, Benrimoj SI, et al. Collaborative health service planning: A stakeholder analysis to develop a community pharmacy service. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2020;15(2):216-229.

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