The Pharmacy of the Future

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Meghann Chilcott, Senior Vice President of OrderInsite, discusses the changing role of pharmacists and technicians.

 

Patients are consumers, and they expect more from pharmacies than a collection of pill bottles.

Local pharmacists have seen their roles continually change over recent years due to enhanced technology that allows them better and faster communication with health providers, patients and insurance companies. They are also facing incredible competition from large corporate branches and online drug companies. In response to these developments, pharmacists and technicians have had to take on new duties and change their approach to patient care. While requiring increased flexibility, many of these changes have made their jobs easier and more fulfilling while testing their ability to adapt.

Changing Roles

2018 has seen the continued evolution of pharmacy roles that includes even greater technological changes. Information flows freely on the internet and makes collaboration with all parties easier. Local, non-chain, pharmacists have been able to partner with online drug delivery companies to enhance their services and better compete with the big corporations. In many ways, the industry is looking up.

Expanded Services

Experts expect that pharmacies will continue to expand their services even more in the coming years and offer not only immunizations but also, medication therapy management consultations and an emphasis on patient education. Patients are consumers, and they expect more from pharmacies than a collection of pill bottles. They are looking for advocates as well as fast, efficient service when they go and see their pharmacist. 

Health Plan Cooperation

In addition, pharmacy staff will be finding more ways to collaborate with individual insurance companies to ensure the health of their patients. By working with specific insurance plans, pharmacists can express concerns and advice about possible medication interactions and other prescription issues. They then become more involved with patient health while ensuring better outcomes and increased safety.

Social Media

Pharmacists and techs should also be focusing more on social media interaction. Consumers are used to looking for online reviews and confirmation that they are receiving the best available care. A strong and friendly online presence is required to compete effectively with all the choices patients have available. Facebook and Twitter do have a role in pharmacy choice and pharmacists need to embrace it.

Telepharmacy Effects

One of the strongest trends in the pharmacy industry is telepharmacy — a surprisingly low-tech movement to improve patient care and expand the role of pharmacists and techs in the United States. Telepharmacy relies on telephone communication between pharmacist and patients to offer education about multiple medications and possible reactions, advice on when and how to take these meds, and reminders on following up with their doctors. It’s an easy way to reach patients who may be isolated by their health or location and help them manage their medications in a warm, personal way. Patients should feel that pharmacy staff have a real stake in their well-being. The telepharmacy movement has proven to be popular with patients and could increase the demand for pharmacists and pharmacy techs in the U.S.

The pharmacy of the future

Pharmacies have made many adjustments in recent years, and pharmacist and tech roles continue to change. The emphasis will continue to be on technological advancements, but other trends are important as well. Pharmacies will be expected to offer more health-based services to the community, becoming more of a health partner and less of a medication dispenser. They will need to tend to their image on social media as well. Perhaps the most exciting change is the shift to telepharmacy, a practice that doesn’t require high tech but uses the power of personal connection to improve patient health.

Follow Meghann on Twitter: @Meghann_c

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