Pharmacies will need to deploy the tools for digital transformation over the next five years to help raise accountability standards and provide better, more efficient care.

These were among the findings of a digital health report from the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia intended to help guide the implementation of digital tools to reduce waste, educate patients and improve their treatment.

The report cited real-time prescription monitoring, electronic prescriptions and pharmacist input into the country’s My Health Record electronic health record system as among the top areas where investment was needed.

The PSA report, "Connecting the Dots: Digitally Empowered Pharmacists," outlines the future of pharmacy where a range of digital systems provides seamless, more customised clinical care and better medical outcomes.

The study, funded by the Australian Digital Health Agency, includes 11 changes recommended for delivering safety and quality improvements in the use of medicines, and better use of pharmacists to improve access to healthcare.

By next year, for example, the PSA plans to have completed a pharmacist-curated shared medicines list that captures a point-in-time complete list of medicines a patient is using, including non-prescription medicines.

Embracing digital transformation is seen as critical to improving the quality use of medicines, supporting the delivery of safe, effective and efficient healthcare, and facilitating collaborative models of care, particularly in the country’s rural and remote areas.

Among the main system changes required to meet the 2023 target year, the PSA has called for equipping a digitally enabled pharmacy health workforce, enabling flexible remuneration programs that incorporate digital interactions with patients and ensuring digital transformation is driven by data analysis.

Other goals include the integration of Consumer Medicine Information and other consumer-level health information into the My Health Record system by 2021, as well as clinical dictionaries to enable more effective communication between clinical systems.

"This transformation will connect the dots of a currently fragmented health system, where health professionals such as pharmacists have had to make health decisions without accessing sometimes critical health information," PSA National President Dr. Chris Freeman said in a statement.

Freeman’s statement noted that a digital transformation was "long overdue" and pointed out gaps in information and time delays in accessing important information number among the most significant factors contributing to medicine misadventure — costing the healthcare system in Australian $1.4 billion each year.

"We see a future in which pharmacists use digital technology regardless of their practice setting, and have access to enough relevant information to safeguard consumers from the preventable harm medicines cause, and maximise safe and effective use of medicines," the report noted. "The predominant enabler of these changes will be technology."



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