As technology gains more of a foothold within the health care landscape, pharmacy professionals have an opportunity to harness the power of data and automatization.
It’s no secret that technology is constantly evolving within the health care landscape, in which harnessing the power of data and automatization can spur significant progress in patient care, reimbursement, and overall efficiency.
Valued at $144.2 billion in 2018 and predicted to grow to $206 billion by the end of 2020, the global digital health market is growing at a rate of 27.7%.1 Additionally, major technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, and Tencent have begun to focus their efforts in digital health over the past 5 years.1
As technology companies begin their expansion into a growing health care market, new and innovative systems emerge as products and services that impact each major health care player, from health system multidisciplinary teams to the community pharmacist.
Kurt Proctor, PhD, RPh, senior vice president of Strategic Initiatives at the National Community Pharmacists Association believes that technology as it relates the electronic care plan is vital.
“The technology as it relates to the electronic care plan, used to document what pharmacists do and exchange that information with payers and other providers, and clinically integrated networks like (Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network) [are vital]. All of those care team members sharing that information is getting good use of that technology that is used today,” Proctor said to Pharmacy Times.®
But what about technology that can be used in the daily operations of a pharmacy or hospital-system?
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning are expected to play a bigger role in health care in 2020 by helping health care professionals—from oncology screenings to simple note-taking. These areas can also help to bridge the gap between data utilization and a provider’s day-to-day capability.
“Technology gathers information and enables health care professionals to share data. Synthesis of insights and analytics helps to translate data into innovative strategies that directly impact continuum of care decisions, identifying trends to improve compliance, increase reimbursements, and capture revenue,” said Barbara Giacomelli, PharmD, MBA, FASHP, vice president of Advisory Solutions for McKesson RxO, in an interview with Pharmacy Times.®
Robotic Process Automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software-based automation service that uses AI, relying on robots or software for performing daily tasks and certain business processes with higher accuracy and speed. The result is higher efficiency, performance, reduced cost, and advanced data analytics.
The adoption of AI for RPA for common and high value administrative functions such as revenue cycle, supply chain, and patient scheduling has the potential to rapidly increase as AI helps automate or partially automate components of these functions, driving enhanced financial outcomes for provider organizations.2
Pharmacists can harness the power this technology to address compliance and regulatory requirements by reducing human errors, meet patient expectation with high-quality medicines and compliance, and reduce production and compliance costs.3
CVS recently launched the CVS Health program in 2016. This program used data to determine when to send text messages to patients suffering from chronic conditions, such as chronic myeloid leukemia and rheumatoid arthritis. Messages contained information about adverse events and symptom management, timed to arrive when the information would have the greatest effect on behavior. In response, the company found that 6.3% improvement in patients refilling prescriptions, according to the recent CVS Health Trends report.
Additionally, digital tech companies such as Capsule are using mobile applications to achieve same-day delivery of medications. With a rapid expansion of their now 60,000 customers, Capsule demonstrates that there is a real market for app accessibility.4
Although telemedicine visits have increased in the United States in recent years, the majority of American adults still receive care from health care providers in person rather via remote technology. However, telemedicine is a solution for reaching patient populations that otherwise would not be capable of meeting with a provider, such as patients without transportation or patients who live a great distance from their pharmacy.
Telemedicine can improve adherence and track patient health data, especially those with chronic diseases or specific conditions, using wearable gadgets and portable medical devices.5
“Technology such as telemedicine/telehealth and mobile apps enable health care providers and patients to connect regardless of where they are located. Pharmacy video conferencing enables pharmacists to have face to face communication with other health care professionals and with patients. Not only does it improve ‘med to beds’ services but is a key to education and consultation. I expect this technology to increase in use and frequency as it becomes more common and more affordable,” Giacomelli told Pharmacy Times.
Moving Forward into 2020
Although at times, the technology available in the given age can seem overwhelming, it may hold the key to lower hospital utilization, improve medication adherence, and lead to overall positive patient outcomes. Pharmacists at every point of the patient journey can harness technology to positively impact patient outcomes.
When asked how pharmacists may harness the power of technology within the pharmacy, Giacomelli explained, “Pharmacists should embrace technology and the digital experience. Although there is a cost to staying current with cutting-edge digital platforms, the opportunity to improve patient outcomes through integrated systems is important. Pharmacists should have a strategy to evaluate technologies to determine what works best for their organization to stay current with digital platforms which integrate the approach to patient care while controlling cost.”