Technology is always advancing, producing benefits in all our lives. Pharmacies are not immune to this, with digital drugstores often offering customers a better experience. But what does the future hold for digital pharmacies? While pharmacies of old were paper-based, today most things are digital. Offering automatic refills, adherence help, and prior authorization support, digital pharmacies make patients’ lives easier. The pandemic has only driven digital pharmacy services further, with patients getting their prescriptions without leaving their homes. These services are only going to improve in the future, let’s take a look at how digital pharmacies might operate in a few years.
The pandemic has created a shift in what people expect from their pharmacy, and if the drugstore doesn’t provide that, they will find one that does.
Thanks to technological advances, the future of pharmacies will change to better match what customers expect. Patients will have more power at their disposal, increasing the democratization of care and a change in the relationship between patients and healthcare providers.
As the situation develops, pharmacies must embrace the digital healthcare reality. Simply dispensing medication might not be enough as it once was, as they could have to face a paradigm shift in their industry. If they fail to meet these new realities, they will become a dinosaur that will soon be extinct.
As things currently stand, patients all too frequently lack a full understanding of their medical condition and the treatments they are being prescribed. It is estimated that less than 40% of patients fully understood their medical situation after a visit to the doctor.
A lack of information when it comes to health issues isn’t good. It is something that could be very negative for the person concerned and clearly not an ideal situation.
The person might need to repeatedly make appointments with their doctor, try to find the best place to buy their meds, and monitor their condition for improvements or otherwise. This sounds difficult enough ordinarily without being ill, but this is something people have to face when they are feeling their worst.
There could be complications that are unexpected or misunderstandings about how to take the medications that will lead to problems. Whatever the issue, the pharmacist could bridge the gap in understanding to increase adherence and better serve patients.
Technologies like the Internet of Things and machine learning could help pharmacies to improve the health of their customers. It could increase understanding, reducing misunderstandings and increasing adherence.
Another issue, and one not often understood by patients looking to buy meds online, is the problem of unreliable drugstores. While it is easy to assume all medications are the same and all drugstores provide the same service, that isn’t true.
If you are unfortunate to pick an online drugstore that lies to their customers and provides horrible service, there could be more problems than you expect. There is more at risk than simply losing your money on an online order. If you do get your meds in the mail, how do you know they are what you think they are?
Do they have the correct ingredients, you only have the pharmacy’s word for it that the packaging correctly describes the contents of the tablets. While the meds might look as you expect, there is more to it than looks. The only way to be sure would be to have the pills tested in a lab, but this is prohibitively expensive and so not worth doing.
While there are associations and government organizations that provide standards for online pharmacies to follow, something better would help people avoid the problems of scam pharmacies. As it stands today, the only reliable way to make sure you avoid problems is to read pharmacy reviews 2022. This should help you steer clear of many of the problems that could make your cheap medical purchase a disaster.
Internet of Things
IoT is a collection of services and physical technologies that will allow a patient to collect data on their health and deal with problems early on. It could also allow patients to receive refills easier, as well as updates that could be important.
Future pharmacies could integrate with this technology through smartwatches and other devices. This can track health changes and monitor problems. AI could be used to analyze data so that steps can be taken should the need be recognized.
Devices could recommend the patient makes an appointment with their doctor, or provide advice on exercise and diet. And this would all be driven by the connected nature of the Internet of Things, and its ability to communicate and exchange data where necessary with other connected devices and services.
The more wearable technology is adopted, the more it will advance, and the more useful it will be to future medical services.
The ability to remind patients when to take their medication is a service currently offered by many pharmacies. In the future, this will expand and could monitor the situation making adherence to prescription requirements more likely.
Streamlining Pharmacy Services
The process of treatment can be improved, and the pharmacy’s role in this is important. Let’s look at how someone could be treated in the future:
- When a patient visits their doctor, either in person or online, the prescription can be added to their profile and sent to the pharmacy of their choice.
- The pills will then be ready to collect immediately or dispatched from a pharmacy locally to arrive at the person’s home on the same day, perhaps within hours.
- The pharmacy will remind and keep track of the patient’s drug-taking.
- An app and other Internet of Things connected devices will monitor the health of the patient. The pharmacy could be involved in tracking and advising the patient.
- Pharmacy consultations should be easy through an app. This will make sure any concerns are dealt with.
- Refills will also be easy, making certain the patient doesn’t go without their meds.
While some of these things are already available from some digital pharmacies, their adoption will increase. Improvements will be made to the services available, with more connections to relevant services to make the patient’s journey through their care more streamlined. This will make sure they have fewer things to worry about when they already might not feel very well.
It used to be the case that if a pharmacist needed more information on a patient’s history they would need to check a stack of paper records. But now the industry is often focused on technological solutions to make the pharmacist’s job easier and serve the customer better.
Advances in technology have led to revolutionary changes to pharmacists’ jobs. Prescriptions appear on screen, records can easily be checked in digital records, labels are automatically printed, and payment is also electronic.
All of these advances have made the job easier, but this is just as well since demand is higher than ever and only increasing. But these advances have also led to a larger role for technicians.
Technicians are increasingly more involved in overseeing technology and managing software, jobs that might have previously been a burden for pharmacists. This frees up pharmacists to allow them to do more important jobs and see more cases.
Going forward technicians will likely increasingly be focusing on aiding clinical care. This could involve checking with patients on adherence, assuring quality, confirming vaccination status, and more. They could also be on the lookout for patients that would benefit from further pharmacist attention, producing better patient outcomes.
Technicians will increasingly have an important role in the behind the scenes operation of digital pharmacies, offering a way for drugstores to boost the service they provide to their customers.
Preparing for Future Pharmacy Concepts
The technology is, in many cases, already available or being developed for other industries, and could in the future be applied to digital pharmacies. To make this happen many things will need to change.
The legislation will need to move with developments, something that is always likely to lag and will mean the future is further away than it needs to be. National and international laws limit what is possible in many ways. There are rules that control access to prescription drugs for very good reasons, but this may need to become more flexible to keep up with customer demands.
Though despite the need to change laws, this cannot be done without care. There are a lot of medications that need to be restricted and would be dangerous in the wrong hands.
The COVID-19 pandemic did show that the medical industry, healthcare professionals, and even governments, were able to make big changes when required. While there won’t be the same level of urgency when it comes to future pharmacy concepts, it should be possible to change the things necessary.
Future digital pharmacies are in a position to build new patient experiences, that will improve treatment and safety. It should also have the ability to reduce costs, something that isn’t far from the minds of many when they become ill.