fbpx

Use of Information Technology(ICT) in pharmacy

display image
Bhumika KC
Pharmacist, Content Management and Marketing

It is too apparent to one and all, that the use of Information Technology is revolutionizing every part of our traditional ecosystems; from businesses to travel to how we interact with each other and the world. 

The healthcare system is no different. Around the world, from diagnosis to care, to prescription and monitoring, information technology is rapidly being incorporated into the healthcare system for the better. 

Pharmacy, as an integral part of the healthcare ecosystem, has seen a steep rise in the use of technology in various ways around the world. Using ICT in pharmacy can benefit patients, pharmacists and business owners by optimizing tasks, increasing efficiency and reducing medication errors.

The Nepali pharmaceutical  retail market is one of the biggest industries of Nepal. There are around 21,000 pharmacy retails around the country registered in the Department of Drug Administration (DDA). But despite being one of the biggest, Nepali pharmaceutical retail industry remains indifferent to technology and digitalization. The pharmaceutical retail market in Nepal has not been able to adapt and incorporate technology for its benefits. Few pharmacies have started using computerized billing/inventory record system but they are a part of the small minority.

“Using ICT in pharmacy can benefit patients, pharmacists and business owners by optimizing tasks, increasing efficiency and reducing medication errors.”

Examples of Use

Information technology (IT) can be used to various ends in pharmacy. From generating computerized bills to handling inventory and automation of  the supply chain, the use of IT in pharmacy can replace mundane manual tasks. Software with Business Intelligence (BI) can be used to help pharmacy business owners take data-based decisions to ultimately maximize the business outputs and minimize losses.

Furthermore, the use of mobile technology to alert patients for re-filling their prescriptions and that of digital communication technology to remotely provide healthcare consultations are other examples of the potential of ICT in changing the system.  Online/Internet pharmacies in Nepal are also gaining momentum in the recent days, especially after the pandemic, which is another great example of the same.

“Software with Business Intelligence (BI) can be used to help pharmacy business owners take data-based decisions to ultimately maximize the business outputs and minimize losses.”

Better patient care, better business outcomes

Manual repetitive tasks like managing inventory, communicating with vendors, keeping a track of expiry products usually take a lot of effort and time in the pharmaceutical retail chains. Use of technology automates and standardizes the redundant and manual tasks which in turn saves a lot of time for the pharmacists giving them more time to engage in patient counselling.

Also glaring are the medication errors that happen too often. It is believed that after prescribing, the dispensing is another vital step where there is a rather high possibility of medication errors. These human errors that can cause big impact on patient’s health can be avoided by the use of information technology.

Another big advantage of the use of information technology is proper documentation of data. This might include health records or the history of medication of patients to sales record data. This data helps health care professionals make better clinical decisions. Similarly, it also helps pharmacy business owners take better business decisions. For instance; the annual sales record of a medicine in a certain time of the year can be of immense help for the business owner in taking decisions regarding procurement and sales strategy of the medicine in coming years. Information technology can help take business owners make evidence-backed decisions to gain better outcomes by minimizing loss.

In this way, use of IT in pharmacy can add to both a better patient experience and a better clinical and business outcomes for pharmacists and pharmacy business owners respectively.

“Another big advantage of the use of information technology is proper documentation of data. This might include health records or the history of medication of patients to sales record data. “

Barriers to adopting technology

It is evident that the use of information technology in pharmacy yields better clinical and business outcomes. Despite all the benefits, reluctance to adopting technology is still too common. It can be assumed that this is mostly because of the cost associated with the infrastructure, training and time it takes to adapt to the technology. Unlike other industries, pharma/healthcare industry also faces many regulatory and compliance challenges for technological transformation which is another main reason of the reluctance.

However, the industry at large should understand that making a quick shift to technology to replace hands-on manual tasks might seem intimidating and costly at first but in the longer run, the overall benefits weigh much more and ultimately work in the favor of business. Taking small steps towards incorporating technology in pharmacy can be financially feasible for the pharmacy business owners who are not willing to do it all at once.

Adapting to a new system does take some training and time. But there is no alternative to adapting to technology and changes in this era of modernization and digitalization. Pharmacies should sooner or later up their game in technology to if they are to thrive, or even survive in the healthcare ecosystem. The race has already started.

#amtrixtech #hitnepal #pharmedica #pharmedicanepal #techinhealthcare #techinpharma #techinpharmacy