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6 Software Trends for Pharmacy Management in 2021

It’s important to stay current with technological software trends for pharmacy management in industry. And when you’re dealing with something as important as patient health, staying current becomes, instead, an absolute necessity. Therefore, the integration of various technological capabilities is essential for any Pharmacy Management Software (PMS) provider to meet clients’ needs. 

These software systems are jam-packed with different features, so it’s important to know what’s trending before making the decision to purchase an off-the-shelf solution.

From streamlining workflows with automated systems to offering new ways for patients to connect with their own health information, there is a multitude of software capabilities, features, and modules that pharmacists are looking for in their software solutions to not only stay current but to maximize patient care and overall efficiency.

Telehealth and Telemedicine

Pharmacists are currently seeking to perform a range of tasks from home that previously could only be accomplished in person. Offering integrated telehealth (or telemedicine) solutions will allow them to just that.

With a breadth of HD video-conferencing options integrating into telehealth solutions, pharmacists can enable consultations with physicians, patients, and other pharmacists through desktops, smartphones, and web browser apps. High-quality healthcare services can be provided through the use of biometric data, wearable health technology, and access to medical records through HIPPA-compliant messaging and transmissions. 

Telehealth software solutions should be integrated with additional systems and modules to facilitate secure data transfer to aid with patient care. Key integrations include:

  • Mobile Medical Devices: Using HL7 standards, the transmission of teleradiology images and similar diagnostics through Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standards and Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS).
  • Billing Software: Electronic charting, scheduling, accurate charge capture and management, intuitive billing analytics, and reporting enable faster billings times and higher collection rates.
  • EHR/EMR/PHR: Electronic Health Record (EHR), Personal Health Records (PHR), and Electronic Medical Records (EMR) integrations facilitate encrypted data exchange and secure messaging. 

Tasks such as demonstrating how to use devices such as medication pens and insulin pumps can be accomplished over a video consultation without patients having to make a trip to the pharmacy. This is especially helpful when patients live in rural areas where pharmacies are few and far between.

Wearable Health Technology

With the popularization of remote care, pharmacists are benefiting from software which allows for greater insights and data aggregation regarding patients they aren’t seeing in person. Wearable health technology has begun to go beyond simple fitness trackers to provide an improved ability to monitor patients and improve patient pharmacotherapy outcomes. 

Wearables should be integrated with EHR systems and patient portals to transform patient care by enabling the capture and transfer of patient data. The devices include wristbands, smartwatches, and wearable mobile sensors, to name a few. These are able to collect a large range of data including blood sugar, sleep patterns, and heart rate. 

Through EDI, biometric information is added in real-time to EHR software to streamline and enhance remote patient care through visibility of vitals. Algorithms are able to sort through the immense amount of patient data to then automatically deliver meaningful and actionable items to providers. 

For example, wearable patches have been developed to enable Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) for diabetes patients. Glucose readings can be viewed by the patient through integrated smart phone apps, and viewed by the pharmacist to ensure medication adherence. 

Beyond simply offering wearables that are integrated into EHR systems, pharmacists require a level of interoperability that can be achieved through plug-and-play standards. Ease of use, device compatibility, streamlined scalability, and reconfigurability are requirements that lead to increased functionality. 

Systems must also be able to detect new devices, negotiate communication, and synchronize devices to work with each other to deliver the most accurate and therefore useful patient data. 

Online Patient Portals and Mobile Apps

Another tech trend, which has been facilitated by a more remote technological infrastructure is online patient portals and mobile apps. 

It’s not a surprise that a lack of adherence to medication directions leads to worsening of patient conditions, increased chance of death, and an increased chance of the patient improperly taking their medication. Providing patient portals that are integrated PMS systems addresses pharmacists’ concerns surrounding medication management and adherence.

Patient portals that enable automated refill reminders and HIPAA-compliant secure messaging to help patients connect with pharmacists directly, increases medication adherence outcomes that improve patient health. Features such as the availability of drug reference materials, refill request options, and the ability for patients to access their own medical history information through EMR and EHR integration are benefits pharmacists need on the patient end of these apps.

On the pharmacy side, streamlining incoming business and minimizing unnecessary phone pickups by letting the app do the work of collecting refill requests frees up time for pharmacists to complete tasks that can’t be automated.

By offering capabilities to divert business to digital channels, through the automation of manual tasks and simplified self-service options, staff interruptions are reduced allowing pharmacists to focus on what really matters: building relationships with their patients.

E-Prescribing

No pharmacist wants to potentially incorrectly dose a patient due to a paper script illegibly detailing the drug and dose information. Electronic Prescription (E-Rx) solutions integrated into a pharmacy’s PMS to deliver the highly interoperable, HIPAA-compliant solutions that pharmacists need.

For pharmacists to take advantage of the streamlined workflows, secure communications, and improve reporting functionalities of ERx, solutions should be integrated with:

  • EMR, EHR, and PHR databases.
  • Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) and Medical Billing software.
  • Telemedicine/Telehealth Applications.
  • Medication Management Systems (MMS).

E-Rx software integration can enable the accurate and secure transfer of Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances (EPCS) between points of care, pharmacies, and third-party insurance verifiers. 

Reduction in medication errors, automated clinical decision support, increased visibility, and streamlined medication processes for patients and pharmacists is ensured. And prescription filling, renewal, modification, cancelation of medical scripts, and the procurement of prior authorization, are all accelerated by eliminating the need for pharmacists to manually input prescription information.

Digital Therapeutics

Digital Therapeutics (DTx) integrations have become increasingly attractive to pharmacists. Software based therapeutic intervention can aid traditional pharmacotherapy by providing valuable insights to pharmacists on whether the medications they dispense are working or not for the patient. 

A digital therapeutics platform paired with medication therapy and integrated with a pharmacy’s larger PMS captures data from clinical-grade wearables to derive dozens of useful physiological biomarkers. The efficacy of the medication administered measured by a data analytics engine enables modification of pharmacists’ pharmacological treatment methods.

Furthering its appeal, DTx prescribed in conjunction with pharmacotherapy enables pharmacies to reduce costs by leveraging active and passive data collected to optimize medication therapy and meet guideline-directed targets that improve medication outcomes. Based on predictive analytics from biometrics captured from wearables and patient-reported data, providers will access valuable information about whether a medication may need to be adjusted, and how likely the patient is to be adherent based on symptom improvement.

Patients who require regular and intense medication therapy for chronic conditions can also be more closely monitored and offered virtual Chronic Care Management (CCM) to improve the outcomes of their conditions. 

Market examples of DTx includes pulmonary condition management using smart inhalers to guide treatment, Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment with cognitive behavior therapy interventions, and sleep management modules. Ultimately, medications are paired with DTx and included in the medication reconciliation process to ensure treatments are successful.

Automated Dispensing Systems

Preventing medication errors and properly tracking medication inventory to fulfill regulation guidelines are primary concerns of every pharmacy that software solutions should address. Automated Dispensing Systems (ADS) are changing the way that prescriptions are filled to provide the improved accuracy that further accelerates pharmacy workflows.

Tasks such as filling prescriptions and formula compounding can be completed by these dispensers, when integrated with a pharmacy’s IMS. Integration with EHR systems removes redundant steps from the medication administration process to increase safety and make time for patient-centered activities.

Pharmacies need to follow strict guidelines under regulations set by various government agencies. The ability for dispensing systems to automate identification of variances between medication dispense, waste, return, and administrations will aid with adherence while eliminating time-consuming manual processes.

Pharmacies aren’t the only businesses that are seeking these integrations. Instead of using a single point of distribution, hospitals are taking advantage of automated dispensing systems to decentralize their pharmacies.

A decentralized pharmacy ultimately enables hospitals to store and dispense medications near the point of use, streamlining workflows and improving medication dispensation accuracy for healthcare providers within the hospital. The computer-controlled storage, integrated with the IT workflow of the hospital, helps store, dispense, and track individual drugs.

The Bottom Line

It’s important to offer software solutions that allow you and your business to remain relevant in today’s technological ecosystem. As the health needs of pharmacy clients change, the software pharmacies use to meet those needs must also evolve.

The more pharmaceutical drugs that hit the market as a result of advancements in pharmacology, the more pharmacies everywhere are requiring software that manages their workflows. Therefore, it’s crucial to provide pharmacies with internal workflow systems and integrations that streamline day-to-day operations and enable new ways to meet patient objectives. 

Through pharmacy management systems that incorporate ground-breaking software capabilities, enhanced interoperability, flexibility, and scalability, you can easily keep up with the trends that pharmacies are looking towards to enable smoother workflows that lead to increased compliance, medication adherence, and positive patient outcomes.

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