As technology increasingly changes pharmacy operations, pharmacists must take into account several important considerations when determining how to incorporate technological advances, according to a presentation at the 2020 National Association of Specialty Pharmacy Annual Meeting and Expo Virtual Experience.

Panelists Shivani Patel, PharmD, senior vice president of clinical operations and technology at Asembia and Allene Naples, PharmD, MBA, CSP, specialty, home delivery, and accountable care organization pharmacy manager at University Hospital, discussed how technology can help revolutionize how a pharmacy manages patients, collects payments, and communicates, as well as how it can improve overall efficiency.

However, before implementing new technology or software into a pharmacy practice, considerations should be made for supportive resources, data storage, migration, and centralization along with cost. A clear and robust plan should also be created before implementing new technology, which includes plan prioritization and digital solutions to patient problems.

Technology can help divide and manage a specialty pharmacy’s workload and help develop a culture of subject matter experts in areas such as claims, benefits investigation, and customer service, according to Naples. Additionally, it can help centralize distribution through barcode technology, robotics, and automated pill counting technologies.

Software such as text messaging, video chat, chatbot web portals, patient management software, and auto dialers can all help to improve the patient experience as well. 

“From getting us to a digital world from a very a paper method, things like electronic faxes, HRs, electronic communications…we’ve had great strides in technology,” Patel said. “It has definitely brought significant improvement to patients’ health care.”

When deciding what technology to implement at a pharmacy practice, there should be a focus on patient opportunities and experience. The pharmacy should examine where they are losing customers and determine how the technology can be used in patient retention.

New technology should also be used to develop protocols to expand and go beyond the traditional roles of a specialty pharmacy.

“Clinical management, software tools, and options. This is going to vary depending on the design of your specialty pharmacy,” Naples said. “Certainly, keeping in mind any accreditation standards that you intend to pursue in the future…these are going to factor into your decisions about utilizing a specific software management tool.”

No matter why a specialty pharmacy implements a new technology or what technology they decide to use, they should always keep their goals in mind, according to Patel. Before implementing any technology, future needs should be anticipated along with scalability and supportive resources.