Over the years we have gone from mainframes to minis to desktops to laptops and tablets. Now we are entering the “cloud” era — another transformation in how computing technology is deployed and used.
Here we go with a new catch phrase. First it was the Internet, now it’s the Internet of Things (IoT). According to Wikipedia, “things” in this case are physical objects “embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and connectivity to enable objects to collect and exchange data.”
The FDA recently published a proposed rule that would convert the manufacturer’s paper labeling, either on or in a product from which the drug is being dispensed, to electronic media. This would provide for far more timely information on warnings, adverse reactions, and contraindications.
When you stop and think about how far we have come just in pharmacy in the 40 years since computers were first used to process prescriptions, it’s simply remarkable. And it’s all based on writing code to extend the benefits derived.
Fairleigh Dickinson University decided a few years ago that a school of pharmacy would be a good opportunity to broaden its base of degree offerings. I was asked to serve on the advisory board during the developmental phase. This was quite an education, to see what goes into bringing a new school to fruition.
Forty-nine states now have PDMPs in place requiring pharmacies to report controlled substances that have been dispensed. I recently had the opportunity to attend a meeting on the topic in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP) recently held its midyear conference, offering a wide range of relevant pharmacy topics. The conference was well attended and well received.
In 2009 the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy (ASAP) published an analysis of the investment pharmacies make in technology and the impact this has on the patient in three categories: patient safety, patient adherence, and the prevention of fraud and abuse.
What changes have taken place over the years. The amount of functionality featured in the systems back then pales in comparison to what’s offered today. Pharmacy has changed over the years, and so has the technology being offered.
The American healthcare IT market will hit $31 billion in 2017, with a compound annual growth rate of 7.4% from 2012 to 2017. Driving this growth is the demand for clinical IT and the use of IT to reduce the cost of healthcare delivery. It is just a matter of time before paper-based systems disappear entirely and the entire system is digitized.
What are some of the events from the past year in pharmacy and healthcare that stand out the most?
We are moving into the era of personalized medicine — or, to use the new label it has been given, precision medicine. The new emphasis is on a person’s genetic makeup as the basis for tailoring drug therapy for the desired outcome.
The Government Accountability Office just released its report to Congress on electronic drug labeling, following extensive interviews with a number of industry stakeholders. There was no consensus reached on the advantages of electronic labeling over paper.
Pharmacies are at the forefront in addressing the abuse issue. The early PMPs wanted to know what was being dispensed by pharmacies. Fortunately, the pharmacy management system could be programmed to automatically send the file of controlled substances for the required reporting frequency.
Celebrating the efforts of the system vendors to help pharmacists initiate programs that will encourage adherence to a person’s medication regimen and improve outcomes.