A recent Drug Store News Roundtable posed the following question to leading healthcare technology experts.*
“What are the most significant technological developments that you foresee being used in retail pharmacy organizations in the coming years, and will these technologies enhance or replace what exists today and why?”
Here’s what Mike Coughlin, ScriptPro President and CEO, had to say:
Medicine is rapidly moving from a “product” industry to a “knowledge” industry. We are moving from the era of test tube medicine to knowledge-based medicine. The new era involves limited distribution drugs, specialty pharmacy, REMS, pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine. In this new era we have at least three “customers” — or stakeholders — to deal with. First, of course, are the patients. They need help and expect us to provide it. Then there are the payers. They need to be assured that we have the knowledge to properly match expensive medications to the patient’s need. If we cannot demonstrate this, the payers will not pay. Finally there are the manufacturers who are conducting research and producing these powerful and expensive drugs. They need to be assured that their drugs are being used properly and that side effects are being dealt with. They want to see competence, and they want feedback and validation. We must provide these things, or they will not give us access to these drugs.
To be successful in this new era we must assimilate knowledge into our organizations at the exponential rate at which it is being created. And we must ask questions that are similar to the marketing of physical products:
- How do we get the knowledge to the right place?
- At the right time?
- At the right price?
- And how are we going to get paid for it?
- How do our stakeholders know we have this knowledge?
- How do they know we are using it properly?
Knowledge is not shipped through supply chains like products. Knowledge is transmitted instantaneously, anywhere through communications. Call it what you want — communications, telematics, telepharmacy. In this new era, we need platforms to systematically assimilate knowledge and manage it like a supply chain. Pharmacy operators who want to participate in this future should begin to view their primary product as knowledge. They should put systems in place to acquire it, embed it in their organizations and make it available at the right place, at the right time, at the right price, and with a plan for how they will be reimbursed for it. I believe telepharmacy will become the system that conveys this information in an affordable and safe way. It will become a platform that enables pharmacies to make the transformation from a product industry to a knowledge industry.
* Frederick, Jim. “Roundtable: Pharmacy’s future in sync with technology.” www.drugstorenews.com. Drug Store News. Feb. 20, 2014.