It’s not unusual for technology to impact the way that various industries conduct business. It’s also not unusual for emerging technologies to raise concerns among professionals and the general public. Both of these are especially true in modern pharmacy. As technologies are released and implemented, they are having an impact on pharmacists and the pharmacies they work in. Here’s how new technology is impacting pharmacies today:
Rather than standing behind a counter for eight to ten hours a day, handing out medications and advising patients of their side-effects, pharmacists are now able to spend more time on the hospital floor. It’s not unusual for pharmacists to make rounds in the hospital alongside doctors and nurses. In fact, of hospitals that have more than 300 beds, 43 percent have pharmacists that are able to make rounds, talking with patients and reviewing charts.
In 2003, only 2.7 percent of hospitals were utilizing computerized prescribing software. In 2010, that number increased to 18.9 percent. Hospitals utilizing computerized entry have witnessed a surge in both efficiency and patient safety. It is expected that the use of automated dispensing systems in the very near future will increase safety and efficiency to an even greater level.
Though they aren’t commonplace today, patients will be able to refill their medications after-hours very soon. Dispensing kiosks will allow patients to refill prescriptions even when the pharmacy is closed. This technology is expected to increase the efficiency of pharmacies and patient compliance. Automatic dispensing is also expected to lower the operating costs of pharmacies, forcing pharmacists to discover new sources of revenue.
Software is being developed that will allow pharmacists to send text messages to patients, reminding them to check their blood glucose levels, take their medication and even refill medications before they run out. Pharmacists expect that this technology will increase patient compliance and put a greater focus on prescription safety. According to today’s pharmacists, being able to contact patients after they’ve left the pharmacy will eventually lead to better self-care.
One of the drawbacks of technology in any industry is data-mining. Data-mining is conducted by third-party companies in order to secure the information of potential customers and clients. Pharmacists have a valid concern when you take into account that private, medical information will be stored on networks that may be hacked or mined. Tough security measures are in place, no system is full-proof. People filling prescriptions assume a level of privacy that, unfortunately, may be lessened in the face of technology.
Technology has benefits and drawbacks no matter the industry it is used in. While new and emerging technologies can benefit both pharmacists and patients alike. Though there may be problems associated with the use of technology in pharmacies, it is expected that the benefits will far outweigh any issues that arise.