Technological advances have forced rapid changes across the health care industry, especially for pharmacists and pharmacy owners.
Like other industries before it, health care has embraced technology and the resulting trends that have emerged. Many of these trends combine elements of our digital and physical worlds, creating highly personalized and relevant experiences to individual consumers. Interplay between the digital and physical world matters more in health care than perhaps in any other industry, given the importance of effective coordination for a seamless patient experience.
These changes represent a Fourth Industrial Revolution, a term coined in 2016 by economist Klaus Schwab, a professor and founder of the World Economic Forum. This industrial revolution is a digital one, characterized “by a fusion of technologies that [are] blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”1
“Technology is forcing rapid change,” said Debbie Weitzman, President of Pharmaceutical Distribution and Medicine Shoppe International at Cardinal Health. “Consumerism and personalization are manifesting themselves in pharmacies and digital technology is going to be critical for an independent pharmacy’s success.”
Embrace the Metaverse
For example, a turn towards embracing the metaverse has enabled pharmacists to bring care to their patients—wherever those patients are. In its current state, virtual reality—for which technological capabilities already exist—may be too expensive for practical application in pharmacy. However, as it gains popularity in other specialties, costs are anticipated to decrease.
Practical applications of virtual reality in pharmacy may be a few years off, but opportunities for omnichannel engagement are already here to stay. Research shows that 75% of consumers are engaging in omnichannel activity; it’s up to pharmacists and pharmacy owners to keep in mind that the purpose of omnichannel engagement is to offer patients options that are convenient to them in the moment.2 Orchestrating these different options, experiences, and touchpoints can help patients access better, quicker, and more convenient care.
“Patients are applying the same high expectations that exist in other industries to their health care needs,” said Weitzman. “There isn’t much consumers can’t do online if they choose to, and they’re looking for the same level of choice from their pharmacies.”
As pharmacists embrace available technologies, Cardinal Health is prepared to help their customers meet patients’ expectations and needs. Online ordering through Pharmacy Marketing Advantage PLUS, Cardinal Health’s new enhanced solution offering, empowers patients to easily order both prescriptions and OTC products from the comfort of their own homes. Pharmacies can also enhance their online shopping capabilities by offering thousands of OTC products that patients can order from their smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Older patients are also embracing this wave of technological innovation in health care spaces. A recent Nielsen study found that 34% of seniors use social media3 to make purchases and more than 50% of Baby Boomers are planning to use telehealth services in the future—proving the high rate of digital adoption across the age spectrum.4
Support Aging in Place
One noted trend amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic is the increase in seniors and older patients who are choosing to age in place in their homes.5 This choice has created a new avenue for retail independent pharmacies to own the patient relationship with stand-out service. Because pharmacists see these patients more than any other provider on their care team, opportunities to provide support to both caregivers and patients are high.
Take, for example, Cardinal Health™ NavixRx™ Compliance Packaging: this solution seamlessly integrates with the Pharmacy Management System and puts a dedicated pharmacist team in charge of fulfilling and packaging prescriptions, performing verification checks, and confirming package contents. For older patients who may be taking multiple medications, removing this burden gives pharmacists back the time they need to provide more focused patient care.
Better Business for Better Care
Outside of patient-focused trends, new technologies may help pharmacy owners operate their businesses in more efficient and profitable ways. Cardinal Health recently integrated their Reimbursement Consulting Services solution into their Outcomes platform, creating a comprehensive, unified clinical workflow for pharmacists across the country. The Outcomes platform now gives pharmacists opportunities to engage in medication therapy management, comprehensive medication reviews, and targeted intervention programs—all while providing care for patients that supports their desired health outcomes.
“The future is here, and we are only just beginning to see all the possibilities ahead for independent pharmacy,” Weitzman added. “Right now, consumer expectations are for more advanced technology, patient care services and improved efficiency in the pharmacy.”