Pharmacy hours interviewed David Pope, PharmD, CDE, Chief Innovation Officer at OmniSYS, about some of the technology trends happening in the pharma space during the pandemic.
Alana Hippensteele: Hi, I’m Alana Hippensteele with Pharmacy hours. I’m joined by David Pope, PharmD, CDE, Chief Innovation Officer at OmniSYS, to discuss some of the technology trends that have been happening in the pharma space during the pandemic.
So David, what are some of the tech trends in pharmacy that have arisen because of some of these issues that have arisen during COVID-19?
David Pope: Well, thank you for inviting me today. Number 1 is clearly the digital gateway, including the use of planning for clinical services. Before the pandemic, very few pharmacies asked the patient to schedule a meeting for their flu shot. But now that there is a digital gateway, there are just a lot of opportunities and opportunities for clinical services that we can bring to the patient without just relying on a technician or a pharmacist to proactively talk about it. with the patient.
Number 2 is adopting a clinical approach [electronic health record (EHR)]. Before the pandemic, we saw it grow in the pharmacy space – having an EHR. Now, after all, you may have only needed it if you were doing something like clinical services, diabetes, education, smoking cessation, and education. But with new vaccines and new tests, pharmacies quickly realized they needed something that was clinically focused and also closely resembled a medical EHR, but was pharmacy-restricted. Those who first tried using their own in-house technology quickly found that the changing technology and data requirements for COVID vaccination and testing were simply operationally burdensome. This did not allow them to react quickly in response to the market.
The last thing we see are investments and technologies that improve pharmacist workload through automated patient engagement tools and then data integration. So, as you know, everyone recognizes the myriad of tasks that the pharmacist has to perform during their working day—I’m a pharmacist myself—so I recognize that. Pharmaceutical organizations are therefore trying to automate the tasks of pharmacists by adopting new modern and intelligent patient engagement systems. There is a new generation of patient engagement platforms that truly avoid staff overhead while maximizing clinical outcomes and revenue.
Alana Hippensteele: To the right. How have technological solutions enabled pharmacists to provide more holistic patient care and are these strategies here to stay?
David Pope: Yes, so the advent of test-and-treat is an absolute prime example. Pharmacies immediately stepped up to provide COVID-19 and flu testing. They needed a place to bill, document, communicate with stakeholders like the federal government and the patient themselves. The technologies that lead to this will now be used in the future as pharmacists expand these service offerings to infectious disease testing, as well as laboratory testing that now affects value-based care programs, such as a A1C testing.
Alana Hippensteele: What technology solutions do you see on the horizon to help address the challenges pharmacists face on a daily basis?
David Pope: Excellent question. Thus, pharmacists have consistently proven, through integrated networks, that they can make a measurable difference in the lives of their patients with chronic diseases. Therefore, additional information simply needs to be passed on to the pharmacist, such as which labs are dealing with their medical condition, so that the pharmacist can not only ensure that the medications are correct, but that they are also effective.
This therefore requires technologies to be interoperable with EHRs and physician labs. So now that pharma organizations are charging more on the medical side, they’re also going to need technologies and organizations that help them get their credentials. Fortunately, much of the medical billing support is already there.
Alana Hippensteele: To the right. What are the technological solutions that would help support the role of the pharmacist as a drug expert within healthcare teams?
David Pope: So, as a pharmacist myself, I fully understand the need for the patient to have this personal relationship with their pharmacist. So any technology that can take disparate data from different sources to come up at the right time for the pharmacist and provide insights, highlights on drug opportunities – those are the ones that have a great chance of making a measurable difference in the patient’s life. In other words, clinical decision support is going to play an increasingly important role in the pharmaceutical space, as laboratory and other patient data are revealed to the pharmacist.
Alana Hippensteele: What is your opinion on COVID-19 regulations in the pharmacy space, and how has this regulation impacted pharmacy?
David Pope: Well, they’re still being worked on today, that’s for sure. But the PREP law has given pharmacists the ability to vaccinate and test patients – this has been a hugely positive thing for pharmacy. Just before the pandemic, most of the talk about lab testing in pharmacies actually revolved around the litany of red tape that prevented pharmacists from performing lab tests in the interest of the public good. COVID-19 has destroyed most of this bureaucracy. In fact, he brought other lab tests to the table for the pharmacy, stuff like the flu test.
So I don’t see our country going back to the days of big red tape, preventing pharmacies from doing lab tests – but right now it’s tied to the emergency prescription in the [Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP)] Law.
Alana Hippensteele: To the right. What are your hopes for the future of the pharmacist?
David Pope: That’s an excellent question. I am therefore delighted to see the role of the pharmacist moving more and more towards the medical service. Pharmacists are charging more for professional services than ever before, so I expect this trend to grow exponentially.
Pharmacy has a proven track record with infectious diseases. It’s time to unleash the same group on fighting chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. So to do that, they’re going to need the right tools at the right time. They will need to be able to prescribe per protocol, billing for these services as a low to moderate complexity office visit. I mean, I may have rose-colored glasses, but I believe the future is brighter now than the day I graduated from the University of Georgia in pharmacy.