Evolutionary Trends in Pharmacy Technology

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Meghann Chilcott, Chief Technology/Marketing Officer at Benzer Pharmacy charts out new pathways for improving the customer experience and sustaining business success through data-driven decision-making in support of independent pharmacists.

 

Patients of all ages are showing a greater desire for instant-access to healthcare information—something the digital transformation has made possible for the first time.

 

 

As technology evolves, so does the way people react to it and use it in their lives. With every advance comes a new challenge to the status quo—a factor that might cause business leaders in certain industries to lose sleep, but not among those of us leading the charge in the pharmacy sector.

 

At the heart of the matter, the roles of IT and business intelligence (BI) have become increasingly critical in how data is managed, integrated and distributed across the chain of command. Yet, it’s when that data finds acceptance at the point-of-care that makes the biggest impact.

 

In essence, the evolution of pharmacy technology is best seen in the light of real-world benefits provided to patients at each touchpoint in the process. Here are a few places to start:

 

  • Maximizing the value of medication adherence. Statistics suggest approximately half of all patients with chronic diseases don’t take their medications as prescribed. Valuable information in hindsight; but now, with the advent of BI and predictive modelling techniques, participating pharmacists can get out ahead of the problem and target patients who are at risk of falling out of compliance with their medications. The availability of real-time data and the visibility to use it expands the “circle of support” around customers, resulting in fewer unplanned hospitalizations and reduced chances of complications arising from any shortfall.

 

  • Personalized access to healthcare resources. It’s no secret that many patients simply don’t have reliable transportation and/or the physical mobility required to make a visit to the pharmacy. One advantage of emerging technology is evident in home delivery of medications, but others include the use of wearable health monitors that send health information back to the pharmacy as a way to keep the pharmacist in the loop. Should a medication not be taken as directed, automated text alerts can subsequently be sent as timely reminders to patients.

 

  • Developing more perfect pictures of health. Various augmented reality devices that allow pharmacists to see patient records and prescription information are already being used in many settings, but those only scratch the surface. In large part, patients of all ages are showing a greater desire for instant-access to healthcare information—something the digital transformation has made possible for the first time. The upside brings the pharmacist to the patient, rather than the other way around, through telehealth video and other online support systems in real-time.

 

  • Automation that keeps pharmacists off autopilot. As the use of robotic technology for time-consuming duties, such as counting out pills to fill a prescription or counting monthly inventory, becomes more commonplace, pharmacists are increasingly finding more time in their schedules for serving customers on a 1-to-1 basis. Many are using social media and other IoT technologies to get out from behind the counter and actively engage with patients on their health—empowering data-driven decision-making, creating brand new efficiencies, and contributing to greater cost savings across the board.

 

In any case, the evolution of pharmacy technology is no longer a discretionary matter of compiling databases of analytic information or spreadsheets of predictive risk factors. Rather, we see it as part of a mandatory, rapidly expanding direction for driving down costs in the future while enhancing the customer experience for the better in the present.

 

The best may be yet to come. But from the perspective of today, much of what it promises is already here—ready and waiting. The proof is in the practice.

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