Digitalization Of Pharmacies
The pharmacy plays a crucial role in delivering healthcare services to patients. As technological advancements, especially AI, are changing every aspect of human life, you cannot help but wonder what this means for the pharmacy of the future. Let’s try to make the most realistic speculation!
The future pharmacy will undoubtedly be a digital pharmacy.
Patients are already familiar with ordering their medications from online pharmacies. In 2021, 62% of drug and medication orders in Germany were already made online. In the future, this service will be even more efficient. Also, artificial intelligence will take over many administrative tasks and significantly change the patient-pharmacist relationship.
The Possible Scenarios Of The Future Pharmacy
Two of the biggest technological innovations of this time are robots and artificial intelligence — and their implication for the digital healthcare system. These will most likely influence the future scene of pharmacy. As a result, patients can get their medications faster, and the number of mistakes will dramatically reduce.
You will likely experience the following in the future pharmacy:
Advanced Digitalized Pharmacies
Buying your medications via the internet is already in practice. Patients visit the pharmacy’s website or open their app to buy medicines online. You will then select your medicines and place an order. Your medication might be delivered to you or they might tell you to pick it up from a physical location.
In the future, patients might not have to browse pharmacy websites and find medicines on their own. Instead, there could be a QR code in your doctor’s prescription. You just scan the code, and the app or website will instantly show you the correct medication. Or — using the e-prescription — these processes are completely digitalized and you no longer have to click or scan anything yourself. Besides being convenient, this reduces the risk of selecting the wrong medicine.
Receive Medicines Quickly
Medicines are one of those items that need to be delivered right on time. A delay of even twelve hours can jeopardize a patient’s life. Delay in delivery often results from inadequate inventory management.
Also, pharmacists are still manually filling prescriptions, which costs a lot of time. On average, it takes a pharmacist 20 minutes to fill a prescription. It can cost more than this if the pharmacist has difficulty finding the medicines or is looking for alternatives. Filling multiple prescriptions can also slow things down. This prevents fast delivery by pharmacies.
This won’t be a problem when robots and automation technologies would take over the task of fulfilling prescriptions. As a result, the overall process will become much faster and flawless. Finally, smart drones will deliver medicines right to your doorstep. We are already seeing the first approaches to this today in fast delivery pharmacy services.
Avoid Medicine Shortages
With the advancement of automation and inventory tracking software, medicine shortages will hopefully become a thing of the past, too. Inventory management software can instantly identify an inadequacy and take the fastest possible action to solve it. Incidents, such as a patient not receiving their medication due to the pharmacy running out of stock, will be less likely.
For instance, 14% of European countries experienced a shortage of 300–400 medicines in 2022. The reason behind this shortage was a lack of harmony between the various stages of manufacturing. If an artificially intelligent system was managing the global manufacturing of medicines, such a disaster might not have occurred.
Development of Successful Drugs
Human clinical pharmacists are finding it increasingly difficult to develop new and successful drugs. Resistance and tolerance of the mass population to many known substances and the emergence of more complex diseases are two of the main reasons. Plus, compared to the past, you have to start with a lot more data when developing a drug these days.
Artificial intelligence can be of great help here. An AI research assistant can sort through huge data sets within minutes and generate insightful reports. As a result, identifying response markers and developing drug targets will become faster, cheaper and more accurate.
How Will Technology Affect The Patient-Pharmacist Relationship?
Patients visit pharmacies very often — even more often than their doctors’ offices, sometimes. Similarly, they see the pharmacist more often than their doctor. This makes the pharmacy one of the most important root-level units of the health care system. This means better patient-pharmacist relationships can be immensely beneficial for patients.
However, pharmacists remain occupied with filling prescriptions and moving those long lines. Yet, the average pharmacist holds significant educational qualifications in the field of medicine and can advise and counsel patients on their conditions.
In the future, as automation technologies take over the task of filling prescriptions, pharmacists will be able to interact with their patients more and can integrate more services into their pharmacy. It might completely change the pharmacist’s role and put him more in a health counsellor position than a simple shopkeeper.
The future of (digital) pharmacies looks more promising as new technologies are incorporated into the field. Pharmacists can take on a more human role and fully apply their expertise.
At the same time, the pharmacy service will become faster, more accurate, and yield better customer satisfaction.