Technology and the pharmacist
Technology has become a part of daily life, from smartphones to smartwatches, it has opened up a new world in the 21st Century. Some may think a step too far, but there are definitive benefits to everyday processes being automated. The pace of life is always increasing, so anything that will save time is an advantage. This is true in pharmacy too. Electronic prescribing and unit dosing have made their way into many hospital pharmacies, albeit by debate. We recently featured a short series of opinion pieces in Hospital Pharmacy Europe that highlight the pros and cons of unit dosing versus one-stop dispensing. Decreasing wastage and manpower are used as arguments for automating this pivotal pharmacy process. But what about the cost? With the Lord Carter review in mind, areas for cost-saving and efficiency must be evaluated. From this we can see that automation does not necessarily solve every problem perfectly and needs to be thoughtfully considered for the needs of a specific pharmacy. Similarly, summary care record viewing allows medicines reconciliation to happen quicker and thus improving patient care. We covered this with an example from the North Essex Partnership NHS Trust and recently the rollout has been extended to retail pharmacies as well. And there is another way in which technology will be implemented in hospital pharmacy: in 2018 all pharmacies across the EU will be required to adhere to the Falsified Medicines Directive. This will involve the use of 2D barcodes and verification processes that rely on technology to help combat counterfeit medicines entering the EU. There is no doubt that technology is an increasing part of the hospital pharmacists’ role and it is becoming a more important one. In the spring issue of Hospital Pharmacy Europe we will highlight a few more ways in which technology can be integrated into pharmacy practice.