Hospital pharmacies to go high-tech and decentralized

March 19, 2007
Charlotte LoBuono
Charlotte LoBuono

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities of the future will look more like hotels or office buildings and less like the institutional and often inconveniently designed buildings that many think of today, said Greg Lasker, an assistant professor of building construction management at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. According to Lasker, Clarion North Medical Center in Carmel, Ind., is a precursor of what hospitals of the future will look like.














Hospitals and other healthcare facilities of the future will look more like hotels or office buildings and less like the institutional and often inconveniently designed buildings that many think of today, said Greg Lasker, an assistant professor of building construction management at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. According to Lasker, Clarion North Medical Center in Carmel, Ind., is a precursor of what hospitals of the future will look like. Clarion North features private rooms; dedicated pavilions for women, children, and specialty surgery; an attached medical office building; comfortable waiting room chairs similar to those found in a private residence or hotel lobby; and greenery and a glass-covered atrium. "Hospitals are definitely becoming more patient-oriented," said Jane Barrett, R.Ph., pharmacy manager at Clarion North. "By that I mean the stereotypical uncomfortable chairs and the sterile atmosphere are being done away with. These are being replaced with a more business-type setting."

Scheckelhoff went on to say, "We asked pharmacy directors where they see things going, and clearly the trend is decentralization. The bulk of pharmacy inventory will continue to be moved out to the nursing units, closer to the patients-in automated dispensing units or some other type of technology. This is particularly true of medications available in standardized dosage forms."

He said that in addition to high-tech, custom compounding areas, the main pharmacy will also house offices for those who specialize in pharmacy informatics. These staffers will manage the information systems being used throughout the facility to prescribe, dispense, and administer medications.

Scheckelhoff went on to say that a third group of pharmacists that will be needed in the future are those with both a technology background and a high level of clinical expertise. These pharmacists would build and maintain decision support tools that are used in automated medication use systems, he explained. They would, for example, program minimum and maximum doses and drug interactions into computerized prescriber order entry systems.

Regardless of increasing automation, however, Barrett feels the human element will never be removed from pharmacy or health care in general. Nor would you want it to, said Barrett. "Patients still want to talk to the pharmacist and know that a pharmacist is looking over their medication profile," she concluded.

THE AUTHOR is a clinical writer based in New Jersey.