Technology is only getting better and more convenient. Now, instead of driving to visit your doctor for a check-up, you can connect with them through video chat. Need to track your medication routine? Simple, there’s an app for that. Every piece of health-related technology has an eye on improving the overall patient experience, while making the entire process more convenient and personalized.
But beyond patient-related technology, like apps and step trackers, pharmacy has been making big moves to make the entire profession much more advanced. The first major shift in technological advancements were focused on keeping track of prescriptions, minimizing paperwork, automating prescription refills, and a new form of record keeping.
Now, technology allows pharmacies to create programs that fully automate a patient’s prescription refill history and check into other prescriptions filled at different pharmacies, giving pharmacists the ability to monitor and better track the patient’s overall health and safety.
Technology hasn’t stopped there. These four pharmacy advancements are diverse and cross-functional.
Automated Dispensing Units/Cabinet
An automated dispensing cabinet (ADC) is a computerized drug storage device or cabinet designed for hospitals. ADCs allow medications to be stored and dispensed near the point of care while controlling and tracking drug distribution. This allows for a reduction in human error, increase in fill time, and allows staff to focus on patient contact rather than filling the prescription.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP)
PDMPs, which collect state-specific controlled substance prescription data, are operational or under development in most states. Checking the PDMP database before filling a controlled substance prescription is optional in most states, but highly encouraged. The information contained in a state’s PDMP can help doctors and pharmacists ensure the safety of all patients when prescribing and using controlled substances.
Currently, IWP has access to PDMPs nationwide. This allows our pharmacy team to verify patient safety and any potential risk of overuse or misuse. Since 2011, we have gone above and beyond to report daily to all PDMPs, far more frequently than the weekly to monthly reporting required by law.
Medication Therapy Management (MTM)
MTM, an online platform to manage a patient’s medication, is a review provided by a pharmacist to the patient. The pharmacist will review all medications prescribed to the patient by all prescribers providing care, along with any over-the-counter and herbal products, to identify and address medication problems. Problems may include medications not being used correctly, duplication of medications, unnecessary medications, and the need for medication for an untreated or incorrectly managed condition.
The pharmacist is then able to provide medication-related education, consultation, and advice to the patient or their caregiver to help assure proper use of medications.
Medication Reminder Devices
There are many devices on the market that provide smart medication reminders to patients. Technology for these include reminder devices that lock after taking the correct dose, alarms and flashing lights when patient requires a dose, and a patient compliance dashboard that can show your next scheduled dose.
Technological advancements in pharmacy help both the patient and the pharmacy staff, creating a better holistic experience and improving the synergy between each step of the prescription process. As our world continues to advance, more and more efforts will be made to improve the health and safety of patients, while also making the provider process much more automated and streamlined.