The practice of pharmacy is changing, with an increasing influx of wearable technologies that can measure, track, record, and even deliver various patient-generated personal data to designated stakeholders such as caregivers and pharmacies—bringing hospital-quality care directly into the community. Wearables are at the heart of this effort. Accordingly, pharmacies can no longer rely solely on prescription counts for long-term financial success but must broaden their scope of services to expand their business model and remain competitive.
An article published online in ComputerTalk for the Pharmacist reinforced this change. More than ever, we are seeing a need for balance, so that the pharmacist can be freed to do other patient-centered tasks besides prescription dispensing. This effort is easily supported by implementing the various technology wearable solutions, including blood pressure machines, blood glucose monitors, pulse oximeters and other wearables, a trend that will continue.
As wearable technologies proliferate, greater emphasis on workflow standardization and pharmacy-operation streamlining is likely. There will be a strong focus on integrating data from wearables into the pharmacy workflow. Given the technologies available today, most wearables will be able to transmit data and information directly into pharmacy-management systems; hence, much of the pharmacist’s effort can focus on other objectives, such as direct patient contact. The resulting strengthened relationship between the patient and pharmacist can entice a patient to return to the pharmacy as they work in partnership toward enhanced health outcomes. Moreover, automated delivery of patient-generated personal data directly into pharmacy-management systems can support pharmacy business models.
Wearable devices, if used in conjunction with other technologies, can also provide messaging to remind customers of refills and prescription readiness. The future of wearables is also incorporating social media techniques as well to provide clients the opportunity for accessing in-store sales, ordering online, shopping in the comfort of their own home, and viewing health product lines. We will see a very strong focus on providing patient services that will yield a competitive differentiation between pharmacies.
Technology will never replace outstanding customer service; however, wearables will offer the pharmacist an opportunity to use the patient-specific data to customize a consultation. This will provide enhanced opportunities for personal interactions at the pharmacy which will support expanded product offerings not only in standard disease therapeutics, but also in the growing business of health and wellness.
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