A Qualitative Approach to Exploring Workflow and Cost Factors of Dispensing Services in Community Pharmacies in Taiwan

Yen Ming Huang, Yao Hsing Wang, Hsun Yu Chan*, Yunn Fang Ho*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aimed to thoroughly document the process and cost factors involved in dispensing services within a community pharmacy. Methods: Using a cross-sectional design, this study incorporated a pragmatic and descriptive qualitative approach to outline pharmacists’ viewpoints on providing dispensing services in community settings. A purposive sampling was employed to recruit pharmacists from geographically different community pharmacies, spanning from March to July 2022. Semi-structured interviews with direct content analysis were conducted through face-to-face interactions to gather firsthand insights into pharmacists’ professional dispensing services. The data underwent analysis through descriptive and in vivo coding techniques to categorize, define, and label themes, thereby identifying key steps and cost components in the prescription dispensing process. The qualitative data management software, MAXQDA 2020, was utilized for data management and maintenance. Results: Ten community pharmacists participated in the study, cooperatively completing the interview process. Of these, 7 were male and 3 were female, with age ranging from 29 to 62 years. The average length of pharmacy practice experience was 11.4 years. The study revealed six integral steps in the dispensing process: (1) receiving and clarifying legality and completeness of prescriptions, (2) profiling and verifying patient prescriptions, (3) preparing prescription labels and containers, (4) dispensing right medications with right quantity, (5) inspecting dispensing accuracy, (6) handing over medications and providing counseling. Along with these processes, pharmacists emphasized that pharmacy manpower, representing a substantial portion of the associated costs, determines the success and quality of the dispensing service. Additionally, rental, utilities, consumables, and physical equipment were identified as other important cost factors associated with carrying out pharmacy dispensing services. Conclusion: The study offers a comprehensive understanding of the dispensing service workflow within community pharmacies. The findings may inform key stakeholders and policymakers about required resources for enhancing and sustaining quality dispensing services for the public in Taiwan.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3179-3188
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • community pharmacy
  • dispensing service
  • pharmacist
  • prescription
  • refill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing


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