Is it a passing fad? Or is it here to stay? The pharmacy industry focuses more on automation and convenience than ever before.
Patients have high expectations for their pharmacies and for good reason. You, your staff, and your independent pharmacy all play an integral role in your patient’s health.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the latest technological innovation that is taking the world by storm. Though AI has played a role in the tech industry for decades, it has never become more accessible and easier to use.
AI is changing multiple industries, for better or worse. It can also streamline various tasks that were previously more complicated and time-consuming. The pharmacy industry is no stranger to AI, where innovation is essentially commonplace.
Now it’s time to learn about AI, its role in the pharmacy industry, and its potential drawbacks.
AI’s Role in Pharmacy
Digital Authority defines AI’s role in pharmacy as the “use of automated algorithms to perform tasks which traditionally rely on human intelligence.”
Pharmacy work runs at a hectic pace, where you’re solving problems on a constant basis. Though your independent pharmacy will always require you to be at the helm for making tough decisions, a little bit of help doesn’t hurt.
AI already helps us in our day-to-day tasks. It greatly powers all pharmacy software systems.
Automatic refills, automated phone calls or text messages, insurance claims, prior authorization claims, and many more services run with the help of artificial intelligence.
Just like your pharmacy software system, it helps perform various tasks around the pharmacy so you can focus on the heavy lifting.
The Role of AI in The Pharmacy Industry
As you likely know, AI’s contributions go beyond the pharmacy counter. As time goes on, it will have a greater impact on the healthcare industry as a whole.
Help Develop New Drugs
The development of new drugs is what the industry is all about. However, it comes at a cost — a hefty one.
A study published by the Journal of Health Economics found that the approval and development of a new drug costs over $1.3 billion. Furthermore, only 13.8% of drugs successfully pass clinical trials, according to an MIT study.
Developing a new drug costs a ton of money and has a large margin of error. AI can help minimize human error by coming up with new solutions for a potential drug’s chemical makeup.
Artificial intelligence can quickly and effectively interpret long and complex data in a fraction of the time if done by a human. Though the AI would be doing the heavy lifting, researchers would still make the final decisions.
In this context, AI would help mitigate research expenses by minimizing the margin of error. It can help streamline the drug development process and promote greater efficiency in the industry.
Just like how your pharmacy software system helps you focus on the task at hand, AI in pharmacy can make an extremely complex process a little easier.
Enhance Patient Adherence
Patient adherence plays a major role in your pharmacy’s success. It shows that a pharmacist’s work goes beyond filling prescriptions — you must also ensure your patients are taking their medications as prescribed.
Artificial intelligence doesn’t have to be an overly complex entity. It can be as simple as a simple reminder on your phone or mobile app.
A study published by Frontiers in Digital Health found that patients had a 100% adherence rate when using an AI application.
AI can be a technological to-do list for your patient’s health. Your independent pharmacy likely has an adherence method in place in the form of well-timed text messages or automated phone calls (depending on the patient’s preference).
Manage Drug Shortages
In a previous blog, we mentioned how the best pharmacy software systems can order medications ahead of time. That way, you’ll be better equipped to handle the next big drug shortage.
AI in pharmacy makes this possible by looking at which medications your pharmacy fills most. It gives you a personalized and tailor-made order for your pharmacy’s needs.
Read our “5 Ways to Master Pharmacy Inventory Management” blog to learn how you can better manage your independent pharmacy’s inventory.
The Caveats of AI in Pharmacy
Though AI has existed in the tech world for decades, it is still in its infancy in regard to mainstream use. It can greatly help in certain medical ventures, but the industry still requires a human touch.
Though AI in pharmacy can optimize your work and streamline complex processes, we need to be mindful of its shortcomings.
Though it can make your work day a little easier, it can also minimize your role in a patient’s health journey. Relying on AI too heavily can take away your pharmacy’s personal touch, which is one of the greatest appeals of independents.
AI in pharmacy is best used as a supplemental tool in the pharmacy setting. While some of your patients prefer more automated services, you still need to be at the helm.
Human surveillance is key to ethical and efficient AI use. While it can solve complex equations and expedite the road to innovation, it will always lack a conscience.
Empathy is at the heart of exceptional patient care. An overreliance on AI in pharmacy and other automated services can make your pharmacy less personable.
Technology is never perfect. That’s why your pharmacy software vendor is usually available at a moment’s notice. It’s always a work in progress. There’s always room for improvement.
Crashes and even security breaches are a genuine concern since AI systems largely depend on data networks. Ensure your pharmacy software system has effective anti-security measures so you can better nurture your relationships with your patients.
While AI can make our lives and work easier, it has its fair share of drawbacks. It’s here to stay and can provide great innovations within the pharmacy industry. AI in pharmacy work is at its best when it enhances your services, not completely taking it over.
AI modernizes your pharmacy by helping you provide more services without too much extra work. Let it streamline your work and always ensure the human element is there. You can’t be a community pharmacy if you don’t interact with said community.