A Forecast of Pharmacy's Future

May 26, 2015

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists recently released its Pharmacy Forecast projecting changes in the pharmacy profession over the next 5 years.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists recently released its Pharmacy Forecast projecting changes in the pharmacy profession over the next 5 years. Here's my forecast for the next 25:

Brick-and-mortar pharmacies won’t exist

A Coinstar-like machine for pills will fundamentally change the pharmacist's role from standing behind the counter to being in front of the patient. Pharmacists will spend their time managing medications, which is ideal for both them and patients.

Pillpack has recently proven this concept. Today, it appears this idea, along with other significant and potentially limitless innovations in design and technology, are leading to a revolution in the pharmacy profession.

OTC medication kiosks will transition the industry remarkably similar to how the movie rental industry transitioned from brick-and-mortar Blockbuster stores to online Netflix accounts.

Brick-and-mortar pharmacy schools won't exist, either

Experiential sites will thrive, but in a vastly different environment. Think Periscope plus Oculus Rift. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, who recently acquired Oculus, said “After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for…studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world, or consulting with a doctor face-to-face.” The combination of these 2 ideas seems to be the future of medical education.

As I’ve seen firsthand, students increasingly prefer to learn online. Soon, that experience will rival, if not surpass, what can be offered in a classroom.

Community pharmacist today, health concierge tomorrow

This 2012 prediction was made in jest, but it is actually coming true today.

Clinical pharmacist today, drug therapy consultant tomorrow

There are 20 million articles published on Medline, and the volume of medical literature grows 10% every year. It’s unrealistic to expect doctors to keep up with all of this pharmaceutical knowledge, and this represents an incredible opportunity for clinical pharmacists.

This expertise will also include economics, which has been largely avoided by most in health care. General Motors spends more on health care than it does on steel for its cars, and we all know medications represent a large and increasing percentage of this growing problem. Eventually, tough business decisions will be necessary, and they are better made from a drug therapy expert than a businessman.

Every patient seen will be a patient researched

This was a popular saying at a hospital I interned at, but it just wasn’t realistic at that time. Today, with electronic health records and the move towards automation throughout health care, the possibilities are endless.