Pharmacy Policy Changes Needed to Increase Pharmacists' Mobile Apps Use

Company policy changes across regional and national chain pharmacies are needed to expand the use of mobile health care apps among pharmacists.

Company policy changes across regional and national chain pharmacies are needed to expand the use of mobile health care apps among pharmacists, according to a paper published in Pharmacy Practice.

Researchers from the Liverpool John Moores University in the United Kingdom distributed a 30-item survey that included multiple choice, Likert scale, and open-ended questions to 600 community pharmacies in January 2013.

The cohort of 211 pharmacists who responded to the survey was divided into groups of those aged 21 to 35 years and those aged older than 35 years. The participants were further classified as either pharmacy managers/owners (61.1%) or employee/locum/relief pharmacist (36%). More than half (56.4%) of the respondents had practiced pharmacy for 10 years or less, while 86 participants (40.8%) had 10 or more years of field experience.

Typical questions from the survey included:

  • How confident do you feel in using mobile apps?
  • To what extent do you believe health care apps have a place in modern-day community pharmacy?
  • How comfortable would you be in using a mobile app over a hard-copy reference source?
  • What would present as a barrier to using mobile apps in your pharmacy?

Although the majority of respondents (78.4%) said they felt generally confident when using mobile apps to acquire information located in traditional reference sources, they did express caution concerning the reliability and accuracy of that data. Accordingly, the pharmacists indicated that they were more comfortable with using apps from official health information sources than unofficial ones.

Still, the pharmacists perceived company policy as the greatest barrier to their mobile apps use, particularly among those employed by regional and national chain pharmacies.

“This issue could be circumvented if the company were to provide dedicated tablet devices with company software available for use,” lead study author Michael Davies, PhD, MPharm, MRPharmS, told Pharmacy Times in an exclusive interview. “This would also reduce the upset caused should a pharmacist use his/her mobile telephone to support a patient consultation.”

Regarding the role of mobile apps in future pharmacy practice, 55% of the survey respondents believed the apps offer the potential to effectively facilitate advanced health care monitoring.

“In my mind, there is no reason as to why mobile apps can’t be rolled out in pharmacies, on hospital wards, in outpatient clinics to aid patient education,” Dr. Davies said. “Aspects for consideration include the type of platform—i.e. official-looking tablets may be preferred—reliability, and accuracy, along with hygiene issues.”