Describe the types of technology utilized in the community pharmacy setting.
Discuss how technology can be used to optimize community pharmacy operations and patient care.
Explain the use of technology solutions to address problems in the community pharmacy setting.
Setting the Scene
The profession of pharmacy has come a long way since the days of herbalist healers in ancient Babylon. Remedies for all sorts of maladies that were once inscribed onto clay tablets are now prescribed entirely digital. Many processes that were paper-based even a decade ago are now done online. In the past, concerns about HIPAA and other regulations, while legitimate, slowed the development of new technology in pharmacy. However, current market forces, including the COVID-19 pandemic, and patient demand have led to a flourishing environment for new technology solutions within community pharmacy.
We will discuss specific tools and programs and highlight their uses to address problems or inefficiencies seen in the community pharmacy setting. As you read about the different tools, remember that technology should never replace your clinical expertise. Technology exists to assist you, not replace you. Many of the tools discussed in this chapter provide increased time for pharmacists to focus on soft skills. It is your responsibility to harness these tools to improve patient care and improve your pharmacy operations.
HOW DOES TECHNOLOGY HELP PATIENTS?
Patient demand for convenience has driven many of the advances in technology for pharmacy. For example, within the last few years, pharmacy software programs have developed capabilities for pharmacists to converse with patients via text directly from the software. Fifteen years ago, most in our profession would have thought this impossible due to Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations and technology limitations, but the best solutions found a way. This is a common theme with any technological development; if the market demands it, the solution will eventually develop.
Let’s discuss some of the prominent technological developments that help patients: