This informal CPD article on The future of Pharmacy was provided by John Jolley, Managing Director of Pharmaconsult, a worldwide provider of technical consultancy and training to the Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industries.
Digital technology in Pharmacies
Major changes in the Practice of Pharmacy are being made because of developments in Medical Science and Digital technology. This is enabling the development of new Pharmacogenomic drugs by the application of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and insights derived from data collected from digital Healthcare records, that can contribute to the improvement in the Quality, Safety and Efficacy of medicines.
As pharmacy capabilities increase and clinical breakthroughs advance, the role of the pharmacy and the pharmacist will take on additional responsibilities within “The Integrated Health Care Team”, because many Countries are determined to avoid a repeat of the chronic overload of hospital care that occurred during the covid 19 pandemic.
Many pharmacies operate on a legacy business model that is only just beginning to embrace the new digital technologies and Patient service innovation. Although today’s retail pharmacists are highly trained, trusted medical professionals who spend a disproportionate amount of time counting pills and addressing clinical edits rather than operating at the top of their license (such as providing point-of-care testing and customer services).
Not only does this tend to minimize their ability to affect patient outcomes but is also causing safety and profitability issues. To complicate matters, regulators and non-traditional players are challenging the legacy profit pools across the entire supply chain, affecting pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), and pharmacies.
The dynamic pace of today’s innovation cycles is likely to create disruption unless we can provide a Pharmaceutical service that is very different from that which is available today.
As an integrated
Healthcare service it is essential that all Pharmacies can provide:
- That Diagnosis and Prescribed Treatments no longer be focused on chemical and biologic solutions, but instead on digital therapeutics, nutraceuticals, implants, gene editing, and programmable bacteria accelerated by clinical research.
- Have access to healthcare data sets connected by “Internet of Things (IoT)” connected devices, cloud-based algorithms, and quantum computing that could enable real-time diagnosis and insights integrated into our daily lives and shared across healthcare providers.
- Customised automation and AI algorithms would enhance pharmacists’ prescribing responsibilities, allowing them to become recognized as Primary health care providers, who could refer Patients in need of acute medications to a Doctor Practitioner or Hospital to managing chronic diseases.
Future changes in Healthcare
While many of these changes seem inevitable, the key question is: How quickly will they occur? The time horizon depends upon the regulatory environment, consumer adoption of technology, where and how competitors invest, and the economic viability of the innovations that are brought to market.
Many countries have already started to implement training for Pharmacists on the role of integration of healthcare sectors, which will examine the distribution of medicines and the determinants of health-related states that can be managed by Interrelated healthcare groups of Health care Professionals that require Primary care Pharmacists to triage prospective Patients by diagnosis, prescribing and reviewing medical treatment, but knowing when to refer patients to GP or Hospitals for Critical/Chronic care. This major revision to the current practice of Primary health care will provide a more immediate Patient treatment, as well as saving in Clinical Resources and significant reduction in healthcare cost.
Pharmacist prescribers will be a central part of multi-professional teams and pharmacy technicians
will need to support this healthcare activity. Demands to improve use of medicines in hospitals
and the community – reducing avoidable medicines-related hospital admissions, drug waste and
poor adherence – require an increased Pharmacy clinical focus from the profession backed up by
better use of technology.
Medicines safety will be improved, wastage reduced, and medicines optimised through structured medication reviews led by clinical pharmacists.
Community pharmacy teams will deliver consistent, high-quality care of patients with minor
illnesses and support the public to live healthier lives.
Hospital pharmacists will continue to be part of specialist teams but will extend their practice into primary care, including providing consultant pharmacist support.
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