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Nurokor Lifetech Logo
As healthcare heads into an increasingly digital future, NuroKor Bioelectronics is taking great pains to make pain a thing of the past. And their expansion into sports recovery and performance opens the door to a much wider market.

What is NuroKor Bioelectronics?

For those of you in pharmacy who are unfamiliar with NuroKor (I suspect an increasing minority), NuroKor is a bioelectrical technology company which works with the body’s bio-electricity. They focus on the software behind the hardware (a little bit like the pain behind the person).

Anyone can claim they’re treating someone by using a stimulation device on a body, (with varying degrees of effectiveness) but it’s the patterns and frequency of the electricity which separates an electric stimulation from bioelectrical pain treatments.

Consistently basing their developments on evidence-based research, what sets NuroKor apart is their programmes with proprietary patterns and frequencies of bioelectricity to achieve the best solution for each use.

NuroKor LifeTech, their signature line of devices, has several uses, including:

  • Pain Management
  • Sports and Injury Recovery
  • Training Performance
  • Reducing Inflammation
  • Preventing Muscular Atrophy

How does NuroKor work?

Let’s begin with the obvious. Because it works with the body’s bioelectricity, the NuroKor device sends electric impulses through the electrode patches the user attaches to the target area on their body.

Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) is one of the forms of stimulation that the device uses to manage pain, which for a pharmacy is likely to be the primary purpose for patients. These impulses travel via the skin and trigger responses from the peripheral nervous system and influence the desired effect.

The device itself has 5 programmes, for different types of treatment:

  • Pain – for pain reduction
  • Pain Plus – for pain reduction and anti-inflammation
  • Recovery – for use after exercise
  • Performance – for use during exercise
  • Microcurrent – a setting with no sensation for body repair after injury or exercise

What do Nurokor’s users say?

NuroKor recently surveyed (2021) 112 of its users. The survey showed that people generally experienced reduction in severity of their pain after NuroKor use. Here are some of the key notes of the study:

  • All participants (100%) reported a decrease in pain intensity following treatment with NuroKor mibody, and
    80% responded ‘yes’ to having a reduction in frequency or duration of pain at the time of survey response. 
  • A majority (60%) of participants also decreased their use of pain relief medication following treatment
    with the device.
  • Participants gave an average NRS score of 8.1 (Standard Deviation: 1.9) when asked how beneficial they found the treatment
    with NuroKor (NRS 10 = very satisfied).

What kind of pain does it treat?

NuroKor devices manage musculoskeletal pain, so some of the popular uses are for:

  • Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Sciatica
  • Arthritis
  • Frozen Shoulder

Does that mean NuroKor replaces pain medication?

For patients living with Chronic pain, medication is often problematic.

Obviously replacing painkillers altogether is the ambition, and in some cases this is achievable.

Of course people won’t come off their medication in every case. Even NuroKor are careful with their wording on their own website…the initial aim is to reduce dependency on pain medication. But whilst it might not replace medication completely, reducing reliance on opioids, painkillers, and anti-inflammatories, as well as all the accompanying side effects, is a massive stride for healthcare.

How can pharmacists work with NuroKor?

Stocking NuroKor products just as you’d stock any product is the most basic way of incorporating NuroKor into your pharmacy.

But offering continuous pain management consultations, having live demonstrations and group Q&A sessions on Living with Chronic Pain are far more engaging options that add value to your community.

Sounds like a lot of work – will it make me money?

Even if you’re purely revenue-focused, these are prime ways of generating some excitement in your pharmacy – offering events and Live Demos are footfall-drivers. (They also help sell the product, too)

Think about the Apple Store, and how they display their products. Treat your NuroKor devices like an iPhone. Showcase it.

And of course, (if you aren’t purely revenue-focused) if you believe in the reduction of reliance on painkillers in your community as well? Then NuroKor and this way of promoting it are a match made in heaven.

What’s the future of NuroKor?

Whilst NuroKor isn’t currently mainstream, it’s emerging. Between pain management and sports and injury recovery & performance, it’s easy to envisage a future where every household has technology like this. Especially when you consider the fact they also have devices for horses and, soon, dogs.

It’s also exciting to think that NuroKor has had such positive feedback from their users, when the field of research is still relatively young compared to other medical fields.

As the research improves, so will the effectiveness of the devices. As the effectiveness of the devices improve, the reliance on painkillers decreases.

Continuous Advances could have wider ripple effects on healthcare

As advances are made, the prospective use of Bioelectronics throughout healthcare becomes more widespread. For instance, bioelectric neuromodulation’s anti-inflammatory effects are already being investigated for use with gastrointestinal purposes. This is just one example of a whole body (literally) of potential for the work around bioelectricity.

Because of NuroKor’s focus on software, it’s worth bearing in mind that developments in other areas of software. The development of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data impacts the effectiveness of NuroKor, and other similar technologies. As these other technologies develop, research becomes more reliable, clearer and catalyses the whole development process. Evolving the use and implementation of the devices with developments in technology like the metaverse is another area that NuroKor, and all digital healthcare have cause for excitement.

Reducing the Burden on the NHS

Bioelectronic devices such as those developed by NuroKor represent potentially major savings for the NHS. Not only through its preventative nature, but through the reduction in painkiller use and consultation time. (If people aren’t in pain, they don’t feel any need to contact the doctor).

Taken from an article published by NuroKor:

With this in mind, the demonstrated ability of bioelectric technology to treat non-healing ulcers, combined with existing population data has shown that, if applied at scale, NuroKor could (conservatively) save £50,000 per year per NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) in wound care alone.

With 211 CCGs, a national roll-out could, theoretically, then lead to annual savings of over £10M to the NHS in this one-use case.

Interested in learning more about Bioelectronics?

NuroKor’s CEO Rick Rowan hosts The Bioelectronics Podcast where he speaks with experts in the field on the latest news and developments within bioelectronics.

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what would a metaverse pharmacy look like? accompanied by a metapharmacist
With different forecasts for how a digital Metaverse could change the world, let’s examine what a metaverse pharmacy could look like in the future.

What is a Metaverse?

The Metaverse, the most renowned metaverse, is a virtual reality project being worked on by the company formerly known as Facebook, MetaTheir goal is creating a hybrid community spanning both real and virtual worlds.

However, metaverse is a term (dating back to the 70’s!) used widely across developers for any virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. (Essentially, Meta just piggybacked the term so that their Metaverse sounded like the original).

the meta metaverse promo

A vision of Meta’s Metaverse

What’s the difference between a digital presence and a Metaverse pharmacy?

A metaverse pharmacy is like if your pharmacy and your pharmacy website had a baby.

So the main difference between a digital presence and a metaverse pharmacy is the way users interact with it, as well as how pharmacists would interact with it.

It will depend on the direction that metaverse development takes in the future.

What is the future of the metaverse?

The problem is that there’s lots of different metaverses out there. Meta have theirs, Microsoft has their own version…even Fortnite, (that’s a video game, if you don’t have kids) has something they label a metaverse, but none of them interact.

Right now, a lot of companies are building their own ring-fenced versions of the metaverse for their very specific needs and niches.

The metaverse happens when you’re able to jump between digital worlds seamlessly. And it’s unclear as yet whether this will ever happen.

When will society fully embrace metaverse technology?

Before wider society embraces the metaverse, a number of issues need solving.

  • Clunky eyewear, with battery issues
  • Regulations (which will constantly change)
  • Motion sickness
  • Security and data privacy issues
  • Complex & costly hardware

Could pharmacy exist in a metaverse?

Yes. In fact, it already does. A pharmacy in Decentraland. Which, if you’re wondering, is a digital location. That’s right…a physical location in an unlimited digital space. Depending on which way the metaverse develops, physical digital addresses are either extremely valuable or completely worthless.

Whilst it’s worth bearing in mind that this is a blend of cyberspace and reality, the idea that it matters where something is located in this world is…debatable, at least.

What would a metaverse pharmacy look like?

Let me paint a hypothetical picture of a potential metaverse pharmacy.

1. Getting to the pharmacy

I pop on my digital glasses, and I open up a top-down digital map of my local town centre, like the interactive ones you get in shopping centres. After browsing, I find Metaverse Pharmacy, and select “Enter Metaverse Pharmacy.”

The virtual door opens and I find a bunch of avatars from my local community also visiting the pharmacy (at the moment these Avatars look like they do on the Nintendo Wii, so, room for improvement). I’m after a new sun cream for my child with sensitive skin.

I approach the pharmacist’s avatar, highlighted with a Green Cross floating above their head. They’re “engaged in a private consultation”. I join a queue, which automatically brings me into a private chat with the pharmacist when they’re available.

2. Virtual shopping

Whilst I’m waiting, I’m exploring a virtual shelf which asks me what I’m interested in. After selecting sun creams, the range is pulled up in front of me and I swipe through the options. All the relevant information displays alongside them, including a “Pharmacist recommends for” section, which explains the different SPFs. Pretty swizz. I like this system, I couldn’t have imagined it better.

Suddenly, I hear a beep and see a countdown, alerting me I’m being brought into the private consultation with the pharmacist. I’m now face-to-face with the pharmacists avatar. They’re wearing a white coat and glasses, and look bloody trustworthy.

3. Private online consultation

They state their name and GPhC number, before checking my name, date of birth and address for security. Once that’s clarified, they ask how they can help.

After quickly consulting me about my child’s skincare issues, the pharmacist tells me Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Sensitive Advanced SPF50+ is hypoallergenic, has no perfume or colourants, making it ideal for children with sensitive skin.” They couldn’t have said it better if they’d copied and pasted it from a pharmacist’s recommendation online.

4. Paying digitally for real products

They ask if I’d like one sending to my address, and tell me it will cost 5 metacoins. (It’s highly likely a metaverse will run on some form of cryptocurrency-based economy.)

I confirm I’d like that, and before departing, they ask if I’m going abroad anytime soon. I say yes, that’s why I’m buying the suncream. After discovering I’m going to Thailand for a wedding, they book me in for a travel vaccination in the real pharmacy. I’m given the option of paying in cryptocurrency or GBP. Since we’re in my imagination, I’m rolling in metacoins. So I book and pay for my travel vaccines there and then.

Returning home, by which I mean removing my digital spectacles, the sun cream I needed is on its way and I’m booked in.

How could a metaverse pharmacy operate?

There’s an obvious reality that cannot be digitised. You cannot physically treat a digital avatar. Any metaverse pharmacy could focus on prescriptions and consultations, health advice and e-commerce – but vaccinations and other physical treatments would still require a physical location.

Would a metaverse pharmacy expand the boundaries of catchment areas?

This depends on exactly how metaverse technology develops.

If it develops into a singular cyberspace, a platform like the Internet, then it would benefit pharmacies with a strong digital presence across social media, or pharmacies with lots of directory links from other places.

Monopoly Concerns

However, if a company like Meta monopolises a single metaverse, with restricted digital real estate, it’s entirely possible that one monstrous behemoth metaverse pharmacy employs tens of thousands of pharmacists to manage millions of virtual reality goggle-wielding patients. After all, if geography is no longer a barrier, there’s nothing stopping a once-limited by physical space conglomeration from serving everyone who needs a health consultation.

It’s an open door for tech-giants like Amazon – fulfilling a centralised prescription/eCommerce logistics contract in partnership with a huge centralised pharmacy. Perhaps Amazon even becomes that huge centralised pharmacy.

However, there are question marks here over how viable these mass-market solutions are. Amazon have issues keeping their warehouses fully staffed as it is. So, hopefully, this type of monopolising conglomerate never materialises. But if it does, I for one welcome and have always welcomed Overlord Bezos.

Avoiding this requires a decentralised metaverse (like the aforementioned Decentraland.) The community governing the rules means less capacity for tyrannical power.

A new meaning of social networks and links

At the moment, backlinks work by linking from one website to another. Building links on a metaverse could transport you from one place to another.

For instance, imagine ending a metaverse GP visit with a link to a metaverse pharmacy, transporting you instantly from the metaverse doctor to the metaverse pharmacist. You get an NFT prescription unique to you, with an EPS system which works on the blockchain. And within 10 minutes, issuing and delivering your prescription is complete, securely and conveniently.

In that way, your prescription base could be entirely dependent on your metaverse partnerships. Your professional network online could form the foundation of your metaverse business. The more metaverse GP’s linking to your metaverse pharmacy, the more referrals you get.

Of course this is conjecture right now. But based on the way the Internet works currently, it’s a realistic projection of how the metaverse could function.

So how far away is mainstream metaverse pharmacy?

For any metaverse going mainstream, it requires a few different technologies working together.

  • Currency, being crypto or otherwise.
  • Blockchain
  • NFTs (ownership of digital assets)
  • Internet of Things

Whilst this tech is all in its infancy, it’s unlikely we’ll see mainstream adoption of metaverse. Healthcare is probably the last industry the metaverse will affect, since it’s so highly regulated.

But smartphones had issues when they first came out, and there’s no doubting the impact they’ve had on our world.

In 5-10 years, when these technologies develop, the metaverse will follow shortly after.

So should I…y’know…do something?

My personal advice for preparing for something like the Metaverse is treating it a bit like cryptocurrency.

  1. Being aware of its existence, and understanding potential consequences is fundamental.
  2. If you wanted to try and get in early, the potential returns could be massive. Imagine being the only fully operational metapharmacy, if prescriptions suddenly became able to be dispensed through the metaverse…
  3. However, caution is mandatory with such a rapidly shifting landscape. Investing thousands into a metaverse pharmacy only for the technology to change could render your entire investment worthless.

I think it’s a case of when, rather than if, pharmacies will enter the metaverse.

Understanding that you might need an entry plan at some point means that when the time comes, you’ll be readier than most.

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artifical intelligence in pharmacy
With massive advances in recent years, AI in pharmacy isn’t far away. And the changes AI will bring to pharmacy promise to be massive.

What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Artificial Intelligence is another term for machine learning. It traces its roots back to World War 2. Alan Turing, a renowned logician, was recruited to break the German military’s Enigma Code – a process that could not have been achieved by humans. The machines (called Bombes) learned what to do, effectively by learning what not to do, using laws of logic. Similarly, machines are now more than a match for humans at Chess, demonstrating that when it comes to logic, the human brain has limitations that machine learning does not.

Whilst the application of AI has advanced significantly since then, the core concept of how it works is pretty much identical. Humans use available information as well as reason in order to solve problems and make decisions, so why can’t machines do the same thing?

The limitation has always been the amount of information that computers can store. But increasingly, with storage (where the AI stores its knowledge) and the data sets (from which AI can learn) both massively increasing over the decades, this limitation is a thing of the past.

AI is inextricably linked to Big Data, which is just as important, if not moreso, as the data is what gives the AI the information to learn. There’s no point in having a big brain if you never learn anything. Arguably, AI is worthless without the data to learn from, whereas we’d at least be able to interpret Big Data in a limited capacity with our soft, human brains.

word cloud featuring pharmacy, data, ai, pharmacist and other associated words

How does AI impact Pharmacy right now?

The frontline of pharmacy is probably yet to feel the full force of the impact AI is making on the wider Pharmaceutical Industry. Whilst facial recognition and speech pattern monitors can be used to detect rare diseases, it isn’t like these systems are in operation in community pharmacies.

Something that is more accessible is compliance technology. though perhaps not in the guise that it’s needed quite yet.

Another accessible option for pharmacies is artificial intelligence Sentiment Analysers, which are in a trial phases of a rollout for things like phone calls.

Sentiment analysers

Sentiment analysers are artificial intelligence programmes that analyse either text, or speech & voice patterns and detect in real-time how a person is feeling based on that analysis. If you’ve ever used Grammarly, and it’s shown you how your writing might come across to your readers, that is sentiment analysis at work.

Now, you might think it’s obvious when someone is angry at you on the phone. And it is. But over the course of hundreds of phone calls, seeing the analysis of the trigger words which cause this anger, as well as the words used to calm people, might well give you insights leading to more effective phone conversations. Not only for you, but your entire team. This is the sort of insight that it’s almost impossible to analyse when we’re the ones holding the phone conversations, as we’re usually focused on what we’re doing, rather than analysing ourselves.

How can AI impact Pharmacy in the future?

The limit to this question will be found in the limitation of the human imagination. Pointed in the right direction, and given the right data, there aren’t many areas that AI can’t improve.

  • Drug development & efficacy (both linked to genetics)
  • Patient compliance
  • More data informed patient health & proactive interventions
  • Risk assessment & Fraud reduction
  • Driverless Delivery
  • Sentiment Analysers
  • More efficient clinical trials

Not all of these directly impact pharmacy, but pharmacy feels the ripple effects of the shock waves in healthcare.

These are the areas that AI can impact pharmacy. But let’s look in more detail at some of the areas where AI almost certainly will impact Pharmacy in the future.

Driverless Delivery

Driverless cars across all roads are still decades away, say experts in the field of AI. But the rollout of smaller, driverless delivery vans like the type that deliver Domino’s Pizza are on the horizon.

Depending on your model, your preferences and your priorities, you might reject this idea.

“I like my delivery driver and they have a great relationship with the patients,” you say. I think that there’s definitely a big argument for retaining the service of a delivery driver. Especially considering serving an elderly population who aren’t tech savvy. They aren’t going to want to start messing around with PINs sent by text and entering it into the van. And there’s also a strong argument for the social contact that delivery drivers give isolated patients being a part of the service to the community.

However, there is a credible argument for utilising both driverless and driver…ful vans. Just like the Pharmaself24 works alongside your counter staff, the driverless delivery van could be a great addition to your arsenal. It gives a green option to a more tech-savvy, environmentally conscious generation. And a more convenient option to those who don’t need social contact from the delivery driver.

From the perspective of a pharmacy business owner, it’s another case of automation making fiscal sense. Why pay for another delivery driver and a van, when you can just pay once for a driverless van? That isn’t necessarily a rhetorical question, but it’s certainly one you’d consider from a business perspective.

Monitoring Patient Behaviours

AI can revolutionise healthcare, not just pharmacy.

It would rely on some sort of large shared database, as machines, like humans, can only learn from information they have access to. But coupled with Big Data from health apps, medical records and other sources (ideally encrypted, protected from third parties and shared across healthcare institutions) Artificial intelligence should allow frontline healthcare professionals like pharmacists incredible insights to inform patient conversations with.

Imagine having the knowledge that 43 year old men statistically don’t finish their course of antibiotics, or that people from a certain background traditionally don’t respond well to a certain medication. Think about how much great advice you can give. If you weren’t in a care setting, you’d clap your hands together and evil laugh with all the power now at your disposal. And I painted that hyperbolic picture tongue-in-cheek because, naturally, patients still need to be treated as individuals. This sort of power shouldn’t blind us to the need for individual care. But it certainly makes giving tailored care easier.

heart rate monitor on a wearable watch

Wearables

This is an important one for pharmacies to pay attention to for two reasons.

AI knows cardiac patterns which lead to serious issues, and people wearing health tech can be given early warning signs. The more innovation happens with wearables, the more interventions can be made proactively, instead of reactively. Which in healthcare, makes a massive difference. It’s a lot easier to prevent a heart attack than it is to recover from one.

As a pharmacist, there will almost certainly be a consultation opportunity either to address these Early Warning Signs, or to monitor the use of and advise on the data provided by wearable technologies so that it never reaches that stage. AI will do most of the legwork here when it comes to interpreting and analysing the data. As the pharmacist, it will be your job to give tailored advice based on the AI’s findings. Perhaps it’s a dietary change, perhaps an increase in exercise, perhaps it’s a prescription. Either way, it’s very similar to general health checks now, except far more informed by data, not only from that specific patient, but by all the data gathered by wearables.

Pharmacies perfectly positioned purveyors

The second reason this is important for pharmacists, is because pharmacies should already be looking to be leading distributors of wearable health technology. When people buy in-person, it’s because they want advice about the products from experts. Who better to sell wearable health technology than the health professional who works with them? When the world of wearables reaches its peak, you don’t want to be just learning about them. This is a relevant retail offering, and the sooner you get on board, the better for your pharmacy business. Activity trackers are only the beginning of wearable health tech. Innovations in this area will continue to develop, with nano-technology making the wearables less cumbersome and easier to wear. But it is AI, which makes everything possible.

Of course, there’s going to be people who reject wearing technology, for a number of reasons. So it won’t immediately make every patient interaction super easy. But for the ones who do, you can look forward to better informed consultations.

Monitoring Fraudulent Behaviour

It feels as though I read about a struck-off pharmacist every other week for some fraudulent behaviour or other. But the beauty of AI, especially when coupled with shared data, such as from SystmOne, is that once fraudulent behaviour happens, and happens, and happens again, the system learns the unconscious patterns in an organisation that lead to fraudulent behaviour. The financial world deploys similar systems. In fact, $217 billion has been spent on AI systems preventing fraud and assessing risk within the banking industry alone. Obviously, the expense of these systems is large (these systems usually start at around £100k), however, as technology advances, it will grow increasingly more affordable.

It isn’t just pharmacist fraud either. Prescription fraud faces a tough future, (provided we move to a fully digitised system,) not just with AI detecting fraudulent patient behaviour, but also from blockchain technology. Blockchain is actually the better of the two at stopping fraud (certainly for now) as current anti-fraud AI technology doesn’t work in real-time.

Could A.I. go badly for Pharmacy?

We could wish for AI tomorrow and end up regretting embracing the technology too fast, or for the wrong reasons, Black Mirror style.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Well, probably the worst-case scenario is the malevolent use of Big Data. There’s a definite argument for whoever controls the data holding too much power. Especially as corporations, whose primary directive is to make more money, are the ones investing heavily in AI. This is especially true if one company ends up as the dominant force in the industry.

Coincidentally, a short while after I wrote the sentence about Big Data being used malevolently, I came across a company called Benevolent AI, involved in drug discovery & development. It’s either sheer coincidence, or the AI industry is already proactively setting the perception this kind of criticism.

AI – Always Infallible?

There’s also the potential for AI to get things wrong. When you consider that it learns solely from data, without the experience or the perspective of a human, then what happens when the data it’s making decisions on is inaccurate, or incomplete? For instance, facial recognition technology isn’t as effective on Black & Asian faces. Imprisoning incorrectly is an issue. Diagnosing incorrectly and prescribing medication for an ailment someone doesn’t have? Also not ideal. Now, there are failsafes we can put in place. But misinterpreted data, or conclusions drawn from incomplete data are potential pitfalls that need accounting for.

What do I need to do as a pharmacist?

Eventually AI will go mainstream and become the default in healthcare settings. As and when this happens, naturally everyone must adapt.

But until that point, my advice is proactively seek out these technologies and innovations, as soon as you can. They make your life easier, and your patients lives better.

Why would you not want that as soon as possible?

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