A Closer Look: Pharmacy and Technology By: Dr. Sanjeev Seenath, PharmD, MBA
Imagine a time when your local pharmacy visits are limited to a decentralized dispensing machine similar to a Redbox kiosk.
Welcome to your local pharmacy station please enter your account verification information. Without hesitation the automated system provides a list of your medications available for pick up.
You select from the options available swipe your credit card and the machine spits out your prescriptions. Finally you are prompted do you have any questions for the pharmacist? If yes please select from the following list of frequently asked, if your question is not available please type your question in the designated area and the pharmacist will respond to you within 48 hours. Thank you and have a great day.
The scenario portrayed above describes the direction that the pharmacy profession is headed we allow others to downplay the important role of the pharmacist and their contributions as healthcare professionals. The landmark report “to err is human” released in 1999 by the Institute of medicine reveals that the use of technology is an important tool used in the prevention of medication errors. The article emphasizes that the majority of these medication errors do not occur as a result of negligence from healthcare professionals but are caused by faulty systems and processes. This is exactly where the use of technology comes in handy; to upgrade operating systems and to make processes more efficient.
Pharmacists are known to be the most trusted and accessible healthcare professional to patients all over the world. It is noted that approximately 95 percent of Americans live within a 5 mile radius of the nearest community pharmacy. This translates to patients having an opportunity to discuss their health concerns as well as seek medical counseling every day and in some cases 24 hours a day. Patients often visit their local pharmacies regularly and develop a trusting relationship with with their pharmacist. The level of trust and confidence shared between a pharmacist and the patient can never be fostered or replaced with an automated service.
In the hospital setting pharmacists are called upon for their expert opinion on patient’s for medication therapy and regimen. While clinical information systems such as Cerner are able to assist in the decision making process, the integration of key clinical knowledge brought about by Pharmacists is essential for determining the best possible medication therapy options for the patient. With medicine today, patient specific care plays a major part in the decision making process that allows pharmacist to interpret disease states, pharmacokinetics and dynamics on a case by case basis. This allows for interpretation of potential drug interactions and dose adjustments and to have a holistic approach of the patient prior to medications being administered. The pharmacists role relies heavily upon the use of sound judgment which only comes about with experience and the incorporation of evidence-based medicine which promotes best practices to ensure patients’ health is optimized.
Taking a look at current issues with the opioid crisis. It is very challenging to overcome this problem which has been going on for many years but as of recent has gone out of hand. One can speculate that this is due to the increasing use of technology for fraudulent activities. The number of falsified prescriptions has doubled since the year 2000. Pharmacists are now plagued with the role of being a detective; having to decipher which scripts are real and which are fraudulent. Drug addicts are finding new ways to beat and outsmart the system in order to obtain scheduled substances. In many cases it is up to the Pharmacist to utilize best practice and his/her intuition in order to judge the character of the patient in order to make an informed decision. Physicians are relying heavily upon Pharmacists as the gateway keepers to ensure that medications are not being misused and getting into the wrong hands.
While technology can be used to simplify processes by using checks and balances to draw conclusions artificial intelligence cannot be designed to have intuition. In closing, it is true that healthcare professionals must embrace technology and it’s ability to increase productivity and precision, however they will never be able to outwit or replace the brain power of a Pharmacist.
Company Name: Dr. Sanjeev Seenath, PharmD, MBA
Contact Person: Media Manager
Country: United States