Technology is impacting all areas of healthcare, including the practice of pharmacy. Recent technological innovations are changing the way drugs are dispensed, increasing the number of treatment options, and optimizing antibiotic use. Here are more details about these new efforts.
Electronic Medication Dispensing
One new high-tech device that is now in use for patients is an electronic medication dispenser. A specially packaged cartridge with the patient’s medications is assembled at a centralized location and then shipped to the person’s pharmacy for use in the dispenser.
The patient then puts the cartridge into the dispenser. The machine not only reminds patients when they need to take the medication but also enables them to talk to a pharmacist if there are any problems. The dispenser enables the pharmacist to monitor patients to make sure they take their medications as prescribed, which is especially important for people with chronic conditions who are taking several drugs.
The entire process is tracked electronically, recording who ordered the medications, where they are in the delivery chain, and who received them.
Other virtual pharmacy innovations include apps that can be installed on smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices to provide therapy to patients with or without medication. The treatment can consist things like cognitive behavioral therapy.
To use the app, the patient needs a code, which is supplied by the pharmacist. A specialty pharmacist first reviews the prescription, and if everything looks to be in order, fills it. Then the pharmacist gives the patient the prescription access code.
The apps can be downloaded from places like Google Play or the Apple Apps store. After downloading, the patient inputs the access code and then can procure the therapy for as long as the prescription lasts.
Watching for Adverse Effects
Another creative digital approach uses algorithms to evaluate a patient’s exposure to adverse effects when taking several different drugs. These algorithms rely on the data gathered from millions of people, according to the creators. The algorithms are used to create a risk score for the patient that changes as their medications change.
The algorithms can simultaneously look at interactions among multiple drugs, rather than just two drugs at a time. The computer programs can spot medication regimens that are unsafe, overprescribing, prescription mistakes, wrong dosages, drug scheduling problems, and interactions between drugs and genes.
Digital platforms have also been developed that can track the use of antibiotics. These programs can alert physicians, pharmacists, or nurses immediately when an antibiotic is unsuitable or possibly ineffective. Healthcare providers can also be alerted when lab results change, or there are changes in the patient’s condition.
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