Community pharmacy and the digital era

Date: 16 December 2020

The digital era is radically changing how technology is used and new technologies are set to have major impacts on how people live and work.

How pharmacists and pharmacy organisations can rise to the challenge of these technologies and embrace them is set out in a new position statement on emerging technologies and pharmacy practice released by the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP).

The statement highlights technological advances, some considered disruptive, that are affecting the pharmacy profession.

These include:

  • successfully providing remote services during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • 24/7 online access to pharmacists
  • harvesting of patient health and online purchasing data by profit-seeking entities
  • use of artificial intelligence
  • use of marketing tools to encourage patients to buy medical products.

The statement stresses that to protect patients, pharmacists must be involved in the development of digital health technologies.

“Any new disruptive technology or business model must not dilute the inherent protections that are in place for consumers and civil society under the conventional pharmacy model,” it says.

“They must allow for the continued pharmacist-based professional stewardship of medicines.”  

President of the FIP Community Pharmacy Section Lars-Åke Söderlund said understanding the changing healthcare landscape and patients' evolving needs and expectations would be crucial as the profession developed new services, incorporated new evidence-based digital tools, and advanced possibilities in patient-centred care.

"It is time to evaluate the services that pharmacists are providing through digital health tools that enhance pharmacy services by improving access for patients who choose to receive care digitally,” Dr Söderlund said.

“After all, digital health in the end is about health – digitally enabled.”  

The statement concludes by stating: “By being part of the technological advances, pharmacy can deliver universal, safer, more accessible, timely and better value healthcare.”

The full statement can be accessed here.

Contact: The Guild
Phone: 13GUILD

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Page last updated on: 16 December 2020