How to use apps to make your pharmacy more technology-savvy

March 15, 2012

Technology is the pharmacist's toolbox. Here are some apps to help you extend your care.

Pharmacists were among the first healthcare professionals to recognize the benefits of technology, and we have continued to lead the way through the years. From Creative Pharmacist and the Healthy Heart Club, which help us partner with patients in the comforts of home, to National Community Pharmacists Association's "Simplify My Meds" program, technology is the pharmacist's toolbox.

Ever since the invention of the iPad, the first "tablet computer," media outlets have talked about the benefits tablet computers will provide to patient care. Nowadays, there are more than 500,000 applications, better known as "apps," in the Apple store and another 200,000 in the Android store. Unfortunately, very few pharmacies attempt to use this technology. The reason could be simply that we are scared.

Daily tablet use

Within the complex of Barney's Pharmacy, this independent retail pharmacy has a long-term care pharmacy, a durable medical equipment facility, and a family practice physician's clinic. My typical day involves working in all of these diverse practice sites, while also precepting pharmacy students. Technology helps guide me in patient care, teaching efforts, and business practices. It also enables more efficient and effective time management.

This article is the first of many to illustrate the benefits of incorporating technology into pharmacy practice.

Clinical patient care

In my practice, apps are considered for clinical care use if they can do any of the following:

Whitney Jones, PharmD, understands our professional needs; therefore, she utilized technology by creating an app called Adult Community Acquired Pneumonia (ACAP). This app is designed to help clinicians in an emergency department determine whether a patient should be treated as inpatient or outpatient and what pharmacotherapy they require. Dr. Jones has found a way to integrate clinical care apps in her practice helping her hospital meet national standards.

In the community setting, the following apps are useful for clinical patient care: Epocrates, Lexi-Comp, Medscape, Pharmacist Letter, Pill Count, CardioLinks, and Dropbox.

Many of the apps used for clinical decisions can be considered drug information apps. These include Epocrates, Lexi-Comp, Medscape, and The Pharmacist Letter. These apps help answer quick drug information questions from pill identification to dosing considerations.

Epocrates is a free app that only requires the creation of a user name and password. Epocrates will provide dosing considerations for common medications and pill identification.

Lexi-Comp is essentially an upgraded Epocrates, providing dosing considerations and medication identification, but, also, offering databases on natural medications, infectious disease, drug interactions, patient education, and pediatric dosing. I prefer Lexi-Comp due to the wider variety of information, though it requires an annual fee.