Trends in Pharmacy Technology and Administration

Trends in Pharmacy Technology and Administration

By Arpit Mehta, Pharm.D, MPH, Allegheny Health Network And Karen Lin, Pharm.D., MPH, Allegheny Health Network

Arpit Mehta, Pharm.D, MPH, Allegheny Health Network

Originating from the Affordable Care Act in 2010, a series of national initiatives, including Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program and Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, were created to improve the quality of healthcare delivery for people in the United States. The age of value-based healthcare is driven by the goal to provide better quality health, to improve patients’ healthcare experience, and to deliver services at lower costs. Moving away from the traditional fee-for-service reimbursements, providers are financially rewarded more through the quality of care provided and patient outcomes. Driven by quality, this era is focused on thinking outside of fragmented care and moving in the direction of healthcare collaboration at all points of the patient’s healthcare journey. Accountable care organization (ACOs), defined by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, became the ideal model of a collaboration consisting of a team of doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers to give high-quality, coordinated care to patients they serve. Coordinated care ensures that patients, specifically chronically ill patients, get the right attention at the right time.

It is no secret just like any other industry, the effort toward better quality health care creates a market demand that many healthcare disruptors have identified. The need for improved quality of care, while utilizing the same or reduced resources, demands for large shifts in the healthcare industry by redefining the way we deliver care. New technological innovations, optimization of services, and streamlined processes continuously are implemented relentlessly as healthcare disruptors, and long-standing healthcare organizations promise to reform. Information sharing through an electronic health record, use of barcode scanning technology, computer-assisted surgical systems, medication delivery system, and telemedicine are only examples of how technology is being utilized to change this healthcare era. The technology disruption further revolutionizes the amount of data available for advancing transformations in the industry. As a result, more than ever, data scientists are needed to interpret data, facilitate discussion, and influence informed decisions to improve the quality of care.

Karen Lin, Pharm.D., MPH, Allegheny Health Network

In the pharmacy space, we must embrace technology and automation to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare delivery. As an integral part of the drug distribution system, pharmacy is leveraging IV robotics, radio-frequency identification, IV workflow management systems, dispenser robots, bidirectional IV pumps, drug diversion analytics and more to minimize the likelihood of human error and increase pharmacist roles in patient care activities. In current hospital inpatient pharmacies, from physician order entry, pharmacist verification to medication dispensing, the practice is completely automated. The goal is to close the loop for medication management further and automate the entire drug distribution system. Another goal would be to enhance the ability of various systems to interface or integrate to further optimize medication delivery. In an ideal state, instead of multiple vendors, there will be one industry vendor providing all solutions to ensure a seamless interface between the entire system, including optimizing technology with supply chain vendors through procurement.

The healthcare landscape is continuously changing. Healthcare disruptors are transforming the use of technology in areas such as diagnostics, treatment, and care delivery. Leveraging technology to gain efficiency in dispensing is instrumental to allowing pharmacists and technicians to be involved in more direct patient care services. Today, when a patient comes to a hospital, they expect to see a physician and nurse but not necessarily a pharmacy member. With this new era, let’s change that expectation, so instead, when a patient comes to a hospital, they expect to see a physician, nurse, and a pharmacy member at the frontline engaging in their healthcare needs.

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