Blockchain is next up in our series of articles on how future technologies will impact Pharmacy. In this article, we’ll examine how other industries use Blockchain, how Pharmacy can adopt it, and how its impact will grow as technology advances. For a “Too Long; Didn’t Read” summary, scroll to the bottom.
Blockchain technology is a network of computers storing data transparently.
What is the Blockchain, and how does it work?
Blockchain technology is a network of recorded and verified transactions. It’s an auditor’s dream, because it tracks everything.
From a technical perspective, it’s quite complex, so let me explain it in layman’s terms.
Think of a big notebook that everyone can see, and anyone can add to. Every time someone adds a new note to the notebook, everyone can see it and know that it’s true. No one can change anything that’s already written in the notebook, so everyone knows that the information is secure.
Now imagine that instead of a notebook, we’re talking about a digital ledger. This ledger is stored on many different computers all around the world, and each computer has a copy of the ledger. When someone wants to add a new piece of information to the ledger, they have to get agreement from all the other computers in the network. Once everyone agrees that the new information is valid, it gets added to the ledger and can’t be changed.
This is what blockchain technology is all about – it’s a way of storing information on a network of computers that is secure and transparent. Because the dataset is distributed amongst many different computers, it’s almost impossible for anyone to hack or alter the information. And because everyone on the network can see the same information, there’s no need for a central authority to verify transactions. This is what makes it a powerful tool for all kinds of applications, from finance to healthcare.
How can Pharmacy harness Blockchain in the future?
The most obvious impacts of Blockchain on Pharmacy will be:
Increased Data Security
Audit Trails & Accountability
Secure supply chain & eliminating counterfeit medicine
Blockchain Prescriptions: A more secure future
Blockchain technology has the potential to enhance prescription security in a number of ways:
Preventing prescription fraud: By using blockchain to store prescription data, pharmacies and healthcare providers can create a tamper-proof record of prescription information that can’t be easily altered. This prevents prescription fraud and improve patient safety, especially if we transitioned to an electronic-only system. Similar to how Blockchain would prevent a lot of money laundering if we lived in a cashless society. Ironically, with no cash or paper prescriptions, there’s always a “paper trail.”
Improving prescription tracking: Blockchain can provide a secure and transparent ledger of drug transactions, from production to dispensation, which could improve drug traceability and prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain.
Enhancing patient privacy: Pharmacies guarantee that patient data is kept private and secure by using blockchain to store patient prescription data. The security of data and personal information is guaranteed for patients sharing data through blockchain-based systems.
Streamlining prescription filling: Blockchain would allow quick and secure accessing of patient prescription data, allowing more efficient and accurate dispensing. This reduces errors and improves patient outcomes.
Compliance with regulations: Using blockchain for storing prescription data means pharmacies comply automatically with regulations and guidelines related to prescription data storage and sharing.
Overall, blockchain technology has huge potential for improving prescription security. It requires significant investment, but the potential benefits for prescription security are more significant.
It becomes very difficult to break the rules. For an industry which absolutely requires stringent regulation, this is only a good thing.
Secure supply chain & eliminating counterfeit medicine
Blockchain allows the tracking of drug movements all the way from manufacturer to the patient’s doorstep. This helps prevent counterfeit drugs from entering the supply chain and improves drug traceability.
By using blockchain technology, the pharmacy industry can ensure a secure and transparent supply chain, which helps to eliminate the entry of counterfeit medicines into the market. Since blockchain technology tracks every drug’s movement from the manufacturer to the patient’s doorstep, it becomes easy to trace the drug’s origins and detect any signs of tampering or counterfeiting.
Each time a new transaction occurs in the supply chain, it’s added to the blockchain. This creates an immutable record that cannot be altered.
This record includes details like the:
Date and time of the transaction,
Location of the transaction.
So any fraudulent activity can be detected quickly, and the drug can be traced back to its source.
As counterfeit medicines pose a significant threat to public health, ensuring drug traceability using blockchain technology can help prevent these dangerous drugs from entering the supply chain.
There’s absolutely no question that technology enhances and enables better work from good pharmacists.
Blockchain technology however has enormous potential for reducing bad or illegal practice above all else. Especially regarding prescription security, supply chain transparency, and data security.
By leveraging blockchain technology, pharmacies create a tamper-proof record of prescription data that is secure, transparent, and easily accessible, while also complying with regulatory guidelines and providing better patient outcomes.
Although utilising Blockchain technology presents its own challenges, the potential benefits of blockchain technology for the pharmacy industry are more than worth it.
My only hope throughout writing this series of guides on future technology in Pharmacy is that the industry adopts them faster than they adopted digitisation.
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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.
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
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:
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).
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.
https://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Nurokor-2.png10801920Saam Alihttps://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Pharmacy-Mentor-Logo-Header-Website-300x56.pngSaam Ali2022-08-17 13:27:552022-08-22 10:20:06Nurokor Bioelectronics and its Impact on Healthcare
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.
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 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)
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 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.
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.
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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Pharmacy automation has existed since the 1960’s, yet full automation is still a long way away for most pharmacies. Automation comes in many different forms, and whilst most articles cover one form or another, this article covers all bases.
Pharmacy Automation includes:
Prescription Reordering Apps
Electronic CD Registers
Prescription Collection Points
Pharmacy Management Systems
Get your automating ducks in a row.
Answering the most asked questions around Pharmacy Automation
What does automating mean for a pharmacy?
Automating in a pharmacy isn’t just about robots taking over. It means taking repetitive tasks and devising a way to achieve the same outcome without human input. In the industrial age, that meant human redundancies. In pharmacy, that means the staff trained for patient care are now released from the shackles of these administrative tasks. Rather than redundant, they’re released for valuable tasks instead of functional tasks.
Does automating mean fewer employees in the pharmacy?
No. Automations typically means your staff can spend more time on value-adding tasks that can’t be automated, such as customer service and patient care.
How many team members do you know that love being in the back room with no windows? Your pharmacy team will almost certainly be happier out in the front, assisting and helping the people in their community. And improving that care leads to higher revenue through cross-selling, and the ability to spend time on private clinical services. Meaning you could even employ more team members.
Can the role of a pharmacist be automated?
No. A pharmacist is still needed for their medical judgment and expertise, as well as patient consultations. However, a pharmacist’s life can be made considerably easier with automation. Instead of spending their valuable time on administrative tasks, they can be freed up to spend all their time doing what they do best.
Which is the best pharmacy automation to start with?
The best place to automate your pharmacy is wherever you and your team are spending the most time.
Typically, that will be around prescriptions. But are you spending more time on the phone than you are dealing with the prescriptions? Or would you have more time to answer the phone if you weren’t so busy counting pills and updating CD registers?
Well, the feedback we get from pharmacies suggests that the majority of phone calls they receive are around prescriptions. Specifically, patients asking when their prescriptions will be ready to collect. There are numerous ways to automate prescriptions.
Adding an automated phone message when people call your pharmacy
e.g., “Thank you for calling our pharmacy. If you’re calling to find out when your prescription is ready, please download our app/send us an email, where we will get back to you as soon as possible.”
This is a big one if you have a big prescription business. So much so, it’s probably the go-to thing pharmacists would think of when you say the phrase “pharmacy automation.”
A dispensing robot is invaluable not only in saving you time on dispensing, but also in reducing errors.
If you have a village pharmacy where the amount of prescriptions isn’t a huge drain on your team’s time, it’s probably the case that your resources are best spent elsewhere. But if you’re dispensing multiple thousands of prescriptions? It’s window-shopping for robots time.
How do websites automate pharmacy?
Websites have the potential to automate almost every administrative element of pharmacy. Of course, the limitation is budget.
Websites can integrate with just about any software with the right amount of development, but there’s a sweet spot when it comes to balancing affordability with functionality.
And for that reason, I won’t go too deep into the potential. We’ll focus instead on what most pharmacies can achieve with a website when it comes to automating.
Automating Medicine Sales & Clinical Bookings
Websites don’t only automate processes for you, they also automate for your patients. Instead of having to visit the pharmacy to collect medication (which doesn’t really make sense for a sick person when you think about it), the entire journey can be completed online – even down to risk assessment.
“For example, a patient ordering Treclin for acne through your website will be prompted to start an online consultation. They’re then taken step-by-step through a comprehensive consultation – just like you’d take them through in the pharmacy. Questions don’t become answerable until the last one is completed, ensuring 100% accuracy. But this is an example user journey, not the only one. It depends on how the GPhC sees this as regulatorily sound.”
A megamenu from a Pharmacy Mentor website for an Independent Prescriber
For clinical services, your patient can book, pay for and fill out a pre-assessment questionnaire, all on a pharmacy website. That means the sole focus of the appointment is patient care and treatment.
This process is so appealing for a prospective patient that if you’re the only pharmacy around offering this convenience, you’ll begin amassing patients. Which, with your system automated, won’t put the strain that an increased volume of patients would usually bring on your team.
Of course, the opposite is true. Wondering why no one’s signing up for your service? Or why your prescription business is thinning? There might well be a pharmacy with a simpler, automated process amongst your competitors.
Automating Data Collection
How do you ensure when someone visits your pharmacy, or your pharmacy website that they come back again?
By adding them to a mailing list, you’re giving yourself the opportunity to communicate with the people who’ve already chosen your pharmacy once. But since we’re in the business of automating, you can automate that process too. Any visitors to your website can be prompted to sign-up to your mailing list with a pop-up. What you incentivise this with is entirely down to you, be it signing up to EPS, 10% off their next retail purchase, or special email-only offers. The important thing is you can then re-capture the business.
To automate the process for visitors into your pharmacy, you can hand the patient an iPad whilst they wait for their prescriptions (if they’re interested in joining your mailing list of course) with a sign-up form. This is what retail stores do as normal practice now.
Prescription Collection Points – the new ATM?
Prescription Collection Points were niche only a couple of years ago. But that’s the thing about revolutionary tech. It’s all early adopters until they start talking about how much it’s changed their lives.
And Prescription Collection Points have changed pharmacies’ fortunes. Some of the busiest pharmacies in the UK are using Prescription Collection Points (plural) to manage tens of thousands of prescriptions – a volume they can only manage with the Collection Points. And a volume they attracted in part by offering the collection service.
It shouldn’t be a surprise. This is the exact same function that banks took decades ago with the introduction of the ATM. At the time, the conventional wisdom was there was no way customers wouldn’t want to see a bank teller to withdraw money from their account. Now, can you imagine preferring queuing in a bank to using an ATM?
Bank staff members were suddenly released from these cash-dispensing jobs, where mistakes in counting were rife, and instead re-allocated to in-depth customer service where they could recommend bank products as solutions to people’s financial problems.
Sound familiar? Replace money with medicine in that last sentence and you’ve got yourself an exact parallel with pharmacy.
You don’t need me telling you that prescriptions are the biggest time sink in pharmacy. So, if you’re automating to free up time, a Prescription Collection Point seems like a pretty good place to start.
Patient Medication Record Systems (PMRs)
PMRs are commonplace in pharmacies, but that’s a bit like saying computers are common in people’s homes. Yes, a computer makes your life easier, but if you’re still running Windows 95 with dial-up Internet, your life is still significantly harder than someone with the latest software on superfast broadband.
PMR systems range from basic medication management software, with clunky interfaces and slow loading times, to state-of-the-art Pharmacy Management Systems which integrate with Dispensing robots and pretty much any healthcare app.
Not all PMRs are created equal.
Upgrading your PMR system is another potential revolutionary moment for your pharmacy team.
Want some guidance on the different PMR systems available? Check out our Ultimate PMR Systems Guide, which explores the offerings from the top providers in the UK.
Automating business admin with Pharmacy Management Systems
What is a Pharmacy Management System?
A pharmacy management system is software providing a digital overview of your organisation. It enables reporting, analysing, and informed management decisions that come as a result.
What is the difference between a Pharmacy Management system (PMS) and a Patient Medication Records System (PMR)?
Think of a pharmacy management system as your digital business assistant. Anything to do with the business side of a pharmacy business is taken care of there. A PMR system is usually for medication management. It focuses on the pharmacy side of a pharmacy business.
Recently, however, the worlds of PMR and PMS are bleeding into each other. Ultimately, it’s all software. And software can be programmed to do whatever you need it to. So it shouldn’t come as much surprise that overlap is starting to occur between PMR and PMS providers.
It certainly makes life easier having everything integrated into one central location.
What does a Pharmacy Management System facilitate?
A PMS in Pharmacy can cover pretty much anything you want it to. Often the software is developed bespoke, or for more off-the-shelf solutions you can select module components to build up a system that fits your business model.
So how do Pharmacy Management Systems automate your tasks?
The answer is that running your pharmacy business without a Pharmacy Management system is like running your life without a smart phone. Sure, you could. Historically, we did it with no problem. But, with something right there making so many different things accessible and simple in one place, why would you?
Pharmacy Management Systems bring all aspects of your pharmacy into one digital space, including but not limited to:
HR & Training
SMS Communications & Patient Data
How do digital displays automate pharmacy?
First, let’s refresh the notion of what displaying anything in your pharmacy achieves. The purpose of a pharmacy display is to attract attention to communication/promotion.
But what happens when you have multiple things you need to tell your community, or multiple products/services you want to draw their attention to?
This is where the dreaded wall of posters usually rears its oh-so-ugly head.
And where the messages and promotions all drown each other out into one big noise that nobody pays any attention to.
Ok, but what does that have to do with pharmacy automation?
Well, the process of automating your displays conveniently goes hand-in-hand with your objective of communicating effectively, so it’s worth mentioning as an added bonus.
With a digital display, all the messages and promotions you want to display can be added to a playlist (including any social media posts you create.) The playlist then automatically loops each message, giving each and every message its own moment in the spotlight.
Say goodbye to endless pinning up and pulling down posters when they’re no longer relevant. Just relevant, clear communications, whatever season you’re in. It’s smaller automation, but every little helps.
Prescription Reordering Apps
What is a prescription re-ordering app?
A prescription re-ordering app is a bit of software that allows patients who sign up for the app to re-order their repeat prescriptions through the app, either on their desktop or mobile. Traditionally these re-orders would either have to be done over the telephone or in the pharmacy.
How do they help automate my pharmacy?
Short of integrating something similar into your own website and systems, (which as a bespoke project would cost a lot) Prescription Re-ordering Apps are an incredible reliever of the infamous endless phone calls.
Not only does the patient not have to contact the pharmacy over the phone to order the prescription, but they’re also alerted when their prescription is ready for collection/delivery. Patients checking whether their prescription is ready is another major source of phone calls, so automating this frees up your team’s time (and sanity) from answering those calls.
An example selection of prescription reordering apps as they appear on a user’s phone.
Are all prescription re-ordering apps the same?
No. Just like any other pharmacy software, different providers have different focuses for their apps, and there is no one-size-fits-all. It’s important to consider that the app you select won’t just be used by your team, but by your patients. User-friendliness, or lack of it, will reflect on your business.
I could go into more depth, but we’ve already done that.
To stay compliant with the law, you must account for all controlled drugs on your premise, which isn’t news to you.
It probably isn’t news to you either that you can do all this electronically. Or that this is way more efficient than writing everything down, for a number of reasons:
Everything is recorded automatically, meaning auditing/paper trails are done instantly by just filtering the relevant data.
Fewer mistakes are made, which means less work chasing up errors.
Easier mistake rectification. Accidentally dispensed out-of-date medicines? Rather than searching through lots of paper files, you can identify where that medicine has gone at a touch of a button. That said, if you use an Electronic CD register, you probably didn’t dispense out-of-date medicines (though mistakes happen!)
Say goodbye to huge filing systems.
Of course, you must make sure your Electronic CD Register software is compliant, but unless you’re building it yourself, unsurprisingly, most Electronic CD Register software providers in the UK have compliance with the UK law as standard.
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