Technology is quickly transforming the pharmacy and helping pharmacists enhance operational efficiency, provide better customer service and improve patient outcomes. Advances in automation, data analytics and improved diagnostics are beginning to yield significant benefits.

Many of these advancements are behind the scenes and invisible to patients. Some examples of the innovative technology being used by pharmacies include [1]:

  • Patients can refill prescriptions with smartphone and tablet apps, text messages and secure email. Pharmacists can help patients improve their adherence to taking their medications by monitoring automated refill histories.
  • Patient medical history, profiles, drug benefits and interactions are available online to both patients and pharmacists in many locations. Pharmacists can check for drug interactions and advise both doctors and patients on medication reconciliation and synchronization.
  • Centralized pill dispensing automation is replacing manual dispensing onsite. The use of robotic dispensing systems and tablet counters improves accuracy and frees up pharmacist and staff time for patient questions and consultation.
  • Cloud-based inventory management systems enable pharmacies to share information across several locations, automatically re-order stock, and review past transactions.
  • The 340B Drug Discount Program is time-intensive for hospital-based outpatient pharmacies and retail pharmacies to manage. Technology solutions help them identify eligible patients, price and procure drugs, and document and track both drugs and prescribers.
  • 3-D printed drugs may soon disrupt the pharmaceutical supply chain by enabling drug manufacturing onsite in the pharmacy. In 2015, Spritam, an epilepsy drug, became the first 3-D printed drug approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and others are under review.
  • Prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) are helping to fight opioid abuse. The state of New York has gone further and implemented the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing Act (I-STOP), mandating that all prescriptions are electronically issued.
[1]  List derived from the following sources:
•    “How Technology Can Transform the Business of Retail Pharmacy,” McKesson blog, July 5, 2016. Available at: http://www.mckesson.com/blog/how-technology-can-transform-the-business-of-retail-pharmacy/
•    “23 Pharmacy Technology Firms Shaping the Future of the Industry,” by Alex Barker, PharmaD, Pharmacy Times blog, March 1, 2016. Available at: http://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/alex-barker-pharmd/2016/03/23-pharmacy-techology-firms-shaping-the-future-of-the-industry
•    “6 Surprising Trends Shaping the Future of Pharma,” The Medical Futurist blog, undated (2016). Available at: http://medicalfuturist.com/6-surprising-trends-shaping-the-future-of-pharma/
•    “Reaping the Benefits of Pharmacy Technology,” by Emilie Ray, McKesson blog, April 4, 2016. Available at: http://www.mckesson.com/blog/reaping-the-benefits-of-pharmacy-technology/
•    “Using Technology to Fight Drug Abuse,” by Ken Whittemore, For the Record, July 2016. Available at: http://www.fortherecordmag.com/archives/0716p8.shtml

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