Inside This Issue - News
Technology to enable integrated, coordinated health care
April 7th, 2014
NEW YORK – Patient-centered technology has captured the attention of retail pharmacies and their vendor partners as both strive to address current concerns regarding such issues as patient compliance, the safe use of pharmaceutical products and medication therapy management.
Although the present challenges are significant in their own right, retailers and technology vendors are looking at how today’s technology — whether it be in the form of dispensing systems, health care kiosks, refill management programs, mobile apps, or medication adherence solutions — may have to be refined in the evolving health care environment, where outcomes measurement is likely to take center stage.
“Interoperability, clinical accuracy and ease of work flow — the trends we tend to notice throughout today’s pharmacy services and automation offerings are typically tied to those three factors. The channel to which health care data is delivered should be harmonized within the work flow or filtered against the realities behind the pharmacy bench,” says Ashton Maaraba, general manager and chief operations manager at PharmaSmart International Inc.
“In many cases retail formats have transformed into a more patient-driven process aimed at serving patients promptly and within star ratings or within expectations of accountable care organizations. However, many of the same historical issues that impact pharmacy practice still exist today: staffing, always an issue; patient compliance, while improving, it’s still a concern; adherence, ‘uncontrolled’ cases of diseases are worsening; and budget constraints, all retailers are facing them.”
Other issues cited by Maaraba include deficiencies in the basic approach of how to best counsel a patient — pharmacy staff requires greater uniformity in this area without enough data on hand or talking points to deliver a clinical breakthrough at point of care — and complexities within the payer system.
Future technology will focus on systems that promote adherence and compliance and that monitor patients in their normal ambulatory settings, predicts Mike Coughlin, president and chief executive officer of ScriptPro. ‘‘There will also be more ways to use telepharmacy technology to bring specialized expertise to bear where and when needed,” he says.
Pharmacy technology, Coughlin adds, will also encourage patients to seek consultation with a pharmacist before they receive a prescription, “an important concept in the system flow that is being recognized and dealt with by the VA [Veterans Administration] and leading hospitals.”
Automation will continue to improve dispensing safety and efficiency, but it will also evolve into an integral tool that provides the high-tech, high-touch care that is sought by patients, asserts Mark Longley, vice president of business development and national accounts at Parata Systems.
“In the future, pharmacy systems will facilitate easy e-prescribing, connect to health information exchanges and incorporate mobile health technology — enabling pharmacists to engage patients at home, where counseling is shown to be most desired and effective,’’ he explains. “Pharmacy automation will support integrated, coordinated care by tracking patient adherence and outcomes, flagging opportunities for a pharmacist or physician intervention and communicating key data to providers across a patient’s health care team.
Patient adherence is still in its early stages with respect to technology, notes Doyle Jensen, executive vice president of global business development at Innovation. “Over the next few years, technology will power patient adherence at the retail level and at the point of administration,” he says.
“We’ve already seen the industry’s shift to wellness clinics, MTM and patient education services. Now we’re seeing the rapid development of various compliance packaging systems, smart device apps, social media and the like to empower patients.”