Way Back in 1982: Predicting pharmacy’s future


Occasionally, it can be interesting to learn what pharmacists and other insiders foresee as the industry’s future

Twenty-four years ago, pharmacists looked into their crystal ball and predicted their industry's future.

Drug Topics’ September 6, 1982 cover story (“Pharmacy’s Brave New World”) offered numerous projections and predictions. Most have come to fruition, even if they took much longer to materialize than originally thought.

Predictions versus results

Consider, for example, this passage from that issue: “Some see pharmacists screening patients and providing a sort of triage function, directing patients to appropriate physicians and/or healthcare clinics or units. Others envision pharmacists as prescribers or at least prescribing consultants working collaboratively with physicians.”

Much or all of that is taking place. Most pharmacies have expanded their businesses by providing services such as vaccinations that previously were the sole domain of physicians and nurses. Still others are collaborating with physicians to remove unnecessary medical visits when it comes to emergency medications such as naloxone.

Prescribing, on the other hand, is still a much-debated issue, with many rank-and-file pharmacists believing they should stick to dispensing and leave prescribing and the liabilities that come with it to doctors. In California and Oregon, lawmakers have authorized pharmacists to prescribe birth control. However, anecdotal evidence suggests few pharmacies are doing so.

Another passage in the 1982 issue read: “Others see pharmacists as acting as monitors of ambulatory patients as they leave hospitals or physician’s office.”

In fact, numerous studies and pilot projects have indicated that involving pharmacists in transitions of care significantly reduces hospital readmissions and well as increasing medication adherence.


Real-life model of future pharmacies?

Earlier this year, independent Ritzman Pharmacy and the Northeast Ohio Medical University opened what they called “the pharmacy of the future” on the university’s campus in Rootstown, Ohio. The pharmacy promises to redefine the pharmacy experience by offering a holistic approach.

Patients have access to a membership-based fitness facility, primary care services, physical therapy, and medication therapy management. And the pharmacy’s shelves include homeopathic and natural remedies. Is this concept sustainable? We'll look back in another 24 years.

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