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Digital Pharmacy and the Expanded Role of Pharmacy

Digital Pharmacy is the convergence of the digital revolution with pharmacy. It’s how digital tools and technologies are used to improve pharmacy business practice and patient care.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid digital adoption of mobile devices have changed the role of the community pharmacist.

Today’s customer is on the go and glued to their computer and phone screens. It is imperative to catch the attention of your patient base in order to drive business and greater traffic to your pharmacy! Digitalization of your pharmacy work flows is the other end of the spectrum. As the pharmacy role expands, so does the need to digital systems to increase efficiency and continuity of care.

The scope of practice in the pharmacy world is expanding. That opportunity comes with complexity. More people are seeing their local pharmacy as a destination for essential care. Through the PREP Act, long-standing restrictions on the ability of pharmacists to order and administer diagnostic tests and treatments have been lifted. The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (Secretary) to issue a PREP Act declaration. The declaration provides immunity from liability (except for willful misconduct) for claims. This act gives the pharmacist protection when it comes to the administering of life saving remedies such as the Covid-19 immunizations and booster shots.

Pharmacists have filled the void in this public health crisis, distributing tests, vaccines, boosters, and in many cases, treatment, to help chart a path out of the pandemic.

Evidence shows that this expanded scope may be here to stay. Additional legislation has been introduced in Congress that would give pharmacists provider status, a dire need as a physician shortage may be on the horizon, especially in critically underserved areas.

The opportunities for pharmacists to step into new areas are immense. And every opportunity comes with complexity—to a pharmacist’s schedule, logistics, and working system.

The benefit of digital workstreams is that they are seamless and secure—perfect for the complex system of vaccines, tests, and treatment scheduling that community pharmacists will continue to face as scope expands.

With an all-in-one system, patient generation, scheduling, operations, and logistics get easier. Including automatic billing and payment completes the workflow. When paperwork and patient records are digitized on a secure system, work happens faster. A digitized system allows pharmacists to truly work top of license.

The proper digital system even helps pharmacists to be paid appropriately for their work. As the scope of work expands, pharmacists can use best practices from medical billing to streamline complicated procedures and maximize profitability to ensure that pharmacist-provided clinical services thrive and expand.

It is also worth considering that reporting requirements are expanding. The COVID-19 pandemic requires reporting of test results to relevant agencies and will remain a priority. Rather than doing this complicated step by hand, the right all-in-one system will handle the reporting digitally, further freeing up pharmacists to focus not on paperwork, but on what matters: patient care.

When we go to work in a pharmacy, digital pharmacy is all around us. It’s our PMR system, electronic CD register, online flu vaccination booking platform, social media business profiles and the smartphone applications that we recommend our patients use. It is where both the digital world and pharmacy world collide and as time goes on, this integration will become more apparent and important.

-Phil Mortenson

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