BOSTON — New technologies will save pharmacists hours that can be better spent with customers, said Dave Bernauer, former chairman of Walgreen Co., Deerfield, Ill., and current board chairman of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, Alexandria, Va.
In a “State of the Industry” speech during the association's Pharmacy & Technology Conference here last week, Bernauer referenced technologies like radio frequency identification, electronic prescriptions and electronic medical records, as well as the need to better control counterfeit medications through drug pedigree laws.
“Technology, if done correctly, will make it possible for pharmacists to play a far more significant role in health care than is possible today,” he said.
Standards need to be set for RFID, he noted. “We can take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the pipeline by fully exploiting the potential of RFID in the pharmacy supply chain.”
E-scripts have the potential to generate more business — 11% more prescriptions find their way to pharmacies when filed electronically — and increase accuracy, but first pharmacies must make sure all pharmacy staff members are well trained. “Once someone has tried something new and it doesn't work, there is hell to pay to get them to try it again,” he said.
E-scripts and RFID will save pharmacists hours that can be reinvested in medication management, he added.
The greatest opportunity for pharmacy lies in electronic patient records. “Electronic medical records have the potential to give pharmacists, doctors and payers clear visibility into adherence,” Bernauer said.
Verne Mounts, director of pharmacy, Buehler Food Markets, Wooster, Ohio, told SN there are three steps to truly professionalizing pharmacy. “We have to have time-management control to leverage time. We have to make appointments for a time and have control over that. And, when we make that appointment, we actually get paid for that time,” he said.
At that point, “we can become professionals. Until then, we are purveyors of a product,” Mounts said.
Pharmacy needs to better measure and demonstrate its value to medical providers and payers, as well as communicate about it, Bernauer said.
Standards are needed for implementing technology across the industry. “Only through systems that talk to each other will we be able to cost-effectively provide our pharmacists the relevant data they need to make informed therapy interventions,” he said.