Implementing Consumer Technology to Maintain a Patient-Focused...
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Implementing Consumer Technology to Maintain a Patient-Focused Pharmacy

By Dale Danilewitz, Executive Vice President and CIO, AmerisourceBergen

Dale Danilewitz, Executive Vice President and CIO, AmerisourceBergen

Today, the average patient visits their pharmacy 35 times per year .When compared to the average four times per year for physician orprovider visits, this statistic is quite notable. With frequent touchpoints, coupled with field expertise, pharmacists are well-positioned to play a critical role on a patient’s overall care team.And, technology has only aided inexpanding this role. The modern pharmacist provides personalized care to ensure positive patient outcomes through counseling patients on health care needs, providing immunizations, helping navigate benefits programs and reaching them in real-time, wherever they are located. They conduct patient outreach, track and trace medications, and maintain a balanced inventory. Pharmacists are challenged with promoting adherence, helping reduce recurring, preventable hospitalizations and are a true partner in patient health. As their role expands, it’s more important than ever to continue to integrate availabletechnology to optimize a pharmacy’s business practices in order to maintain a profitable yet patient-centered practice.

Imagine going into a pharmacy before the advent of smart technology, artificial intelligence and tools like electronic benefit verification and eCare records. Manual tracking, cumbersome verifications and lack of streamlined communication between providers and payers all resulted in a complicated, time-consuming – and potentially expensive –process simply for a patient to receive their prescription. But, today, this picture is changing. By applying modern consumer technology to health care, pharmacists can now virtually order medicines, automate inventory and even use vending technology to distribute medicines, and at exponentially faster and safer rates than could have ever been imagined years ago. In many ways, the digital interfaces that pharmacists operate in are no different than the e-commerce interfaces commonly used by consumers today. These simply-navigated technologies not only reduce transaction time for customers, prescribers and payers, but also provide pharmacists the opportunity to serve more of the patient population with face-to-face engagement.

"Technological advances are rapidly revolutionizing the healthcare industry, and its impact is nothing short of extraordinary"

In an effort to further support pharmacists, AmerisourceBergen has created ABC Order, an innovative, digital platform that easily integrates into their overall pharmacy workflow and allows customers to both more effectively manage their businesses and also create more time for patient care.Through collaborative, design thinking, AmerisourceBergen engaged pharmacists and developed a deep understanding of their needs in order to identify opportunities for consumer technology to transform their everyday practice and assist in meeting performance goals. ABC Order is a customer-firstdigitalproduct management system designed, tested and approved by pharmaciststo overcome common hurdles and streamline business processes, ultimately improving workflow,optimizing performance and increasing time and cost efficiencies. Intuitive, digital product management systems, like ABC Order, support effortless sharing and access to real-time information – a common consumer expectation – and more focus on patient-related activities in order to facilitate more effective relationships between pharmacists and patients.

One of the major processes transformed by ABC Order is inventory management. The traditional inventory management system requires pharmacists to manually control inventory through constant monitoring for out-of-stock items, medication exceptions and changes in National Drug Codes (NDCs). This method not only lends itself to human error, but it also takes away time from integral patient activities. As a solution, pharmacists can integrate consumer technology to exposereal-time data and tracking that provides immediate visibility to their orders. Enhanced monitoring features enable pharmacists to receive automatic inventory and product updates and manage out-of-stock items– all from a computer or integrated smartphone app.In addition, the incorporation of consumer technology offers instant alerts for drug exceptions, allowing pharmacists to quickly identify and react to issues, and limit delays in delivering valuable medication to their patients.

With a reliable, standardized inventory system in place, independent community pharmacists also benefit from seamless employee training. Pharmacists can easily and quickly train their employees through a simple user experience that offers enhanced searches, adaptive filters and easy-to-use ordering functions. A smarter, more effective onboarding process means pharmacists can spend less time training and more time maintaining their patient-focused business.

Technological advances are rapidly revolutionizing the healthcare industry, and its impact is nothing short of extraordinary. Technology has significantly impacted the safe and effective prevention and treatment of illness and disease, and enabled continuous coordination and collaboration across the health care continuum. Additionally, technology has empowered patients to become more involved in their treatment plans and set expectations for increased access to transparent health information. As such, it is critical for pharmacists and other sites of care to embrace the use of technological advancements and consumer technology to expand and improve their health services.

Such life-changingconsumer technology innovations have positively affected the daily work of pharmacists, shifting responsibilities from repetitive tasks to more specialized, high-value work. Pharmacists are experiencing the fast and reliable features of the same technology utilized by major e-commerce players, allowing themto successfully optimize their day-to-day processes and elevate their patient-focused business. As a result, pharmacists are more readily available and able to counsel more patients and address their medical needs. This not only leads to increased and improvedconnectivity with patients, butalso ensures adherence and the success of therapies andtreatments.

Intuitiveplatforms, like ABC Order, are ever-evolving with opportunities to extend their digital capabilities by adding artificial intelligence and enhanced speech and visual recognition consumer technology products to meet the growing needs of pharmacists.Continued collaboration between pharmacy and health care leaders are more important than ever as their insights will play a major role in the direction of technology and its impact on the health care landscape. As future technologies continue to develop and be adopted, we see the potential to expand the impact of consumer technologyto other sites of care, such as health systems and physician practices.

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