The Future of Pharmacy: How Advancements in Technology Are Transforming the Field


AI offers many benefits in health professions by efficiently handling time-consuming tasks crucial for patient care.

Rapid technological advancements have reshaped various aspects of our world, prompting discussions on the value of human connection, particularly in patient care within the field of pharmacy. Interestingly, many technological innovations in pharmacy not only preserve but also enhance the pharmacist’s ability to connect with patients, fostering compassion, which is crucial for positive health outcomes. These advancements have significantly expanded pharmacists’ capacity for direct patient care.

AI and Automation

Artificial intelligence (AI) offers many benefits in health professions by efficiently handling time-consuming tasks crucial for patient care. For example, a major health care system employs AI-generated lists to identify non-compliant patients for prescription refills. The system contains tens of thousands of patients, therefore, manually managing it would be impractical. AI automates the process, sending reminders via text or email and updating electronic medical records, further freeing pharmacists for other responsibilities and increasing patient compliance with medication.

As the use of automation continues to rise, retail pharmacy will benefit significantly. Many tasks, such as non-clinical tasks, are not necessary for trained pharmacists to do themselves and can now be automated. However, the essence of a pharmacist’s role lies in utilizing expertise, evidence-based clinical knowledge and sensitivity when communicating with patients. This includes gathering information, making medication recommendations and counseling patients with compassion to ensure they are using the medication correctly. Pharmacy technology streamlines operations, giving more time back to pharmacists to spend with patients.

New Medical Device Technology

One of the more pressing issues the health care profession is facing today is the limited access to quality care and underserved areas known as health care deserts, where access to quality care is extremely limited by socioeconomic and other factors. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) devices offer a solution by bringing health care providers to patients regardless of their location. These devices can be mailed to patients who can then use them to show pharmacists wounds, rashes, or sores. The device not only displays the injury – removing the necessity for the patient to attempt to describe it accurately – but it can also determine if there is an infection, enabling patients to receive treatment from their home.

Image Credit: © AngrySun -

Image Credit: © AngrySun -

Education, Research and Development

Recent software advancements hold immense potential for pharmaceutical education and research. AR and VR technologies are becoming increasingly valuable in the classroom, especially as remote learning becomes more extensive and interactive. For example, professors can now teach pharmaceutical compounding labs remotely, further increasing accessibility and interactivity for students.

Programs such as Nanome have revolutionized molecular modeling, replacing traditional methods with virtual 3D models for molecule and protein construction. As an academic, I find this software incredibly useful, as it can actually simulate therapeutic treatment. For instance, when teaching how beta blockers function, I can demonstrate how atenolol interacts with beta-adrenergic receptors and students can see how the drug is blocking the beta-adrenergic receptors. Beyond education, such software offers extensive benefits from a research and development perspective, opening a whole new world for the creation of drugs and customization of therapies for precision medicine.

Growing Pains

As technology transforms the pharmaceutical industry, safeguarding patients’ private health information (PHI) through robust cyber-security systems is paramount. With the increasing use of cloud-based data storage, protecting PHI from malicious actors becomes vital, given the high stakes involved in patient privacy. Integrating new technologies with existing systems, such as electronic medical records, poses challenges due to complexity.

However, the considerable effort invested into integrating these technologies is undoubtedly worthwhile, as it empowers health care professionals to serve their patients’ needs more effectively than ever before.

About the Author

Lisa Kipper, PharmD, is the director of experiential education at Marshall B. Ketchum University. Kipper received her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from University of the Pacific. She began her career as a pharmacist with Target Corporation before transitioning to Saddleback Medical Center, where she created a successful Meds-to-Beds Program to increase compliance upon discharge and prevent readmissions. Her expertise spans disease management, physician engagement, patient education, compliance, quality assurance and process improvement. She later worked in ambulatory care, specializing in HIV disease management, PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) and PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis). Additionally, Kipper has extensive experience providing exceptional pharmacy care to hospice and palliative care patients, veterinary compounding, precepting and immunizations. Recently, she served as the Community Outreach Project Leader for the non-profit, Project Hope Alliance, focusing on patient-centered care for families facing homelessness.

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