Digital health has revolutionised the healthcare sector worldwide, and pharmacy is no exception. In the UK, the adoption of digital health in the pharmacy sector has been slow and there is a need for urgent change. With the current expansion of pharmacy services in community pharmacy, transitioning into prescribing roles within the NHS and wider health economy, the integration of digital health into the academic curriculum and NHS services is crucial to improve the future of pharmacy in the UK.
One of the main advantages of digital health is the ability to provide personalised care. By leveraging technology, pharmacists can monitor patients’ health remotely, analyse their data, and tailor their care accordingly. As a pharmacist with experience in both community pharmacy and general practice, I found a gap in patient data sharing between community pharmacy, and primary and secondary care centres, which threatens the transition of a patient’s medication journey from secondary and tertiary care centres, back to the community.
Another innovation that can improve the future of pharmacy is the use of telemedicine. Telemedicine allows pharmacists to consult with patients remotely, enabling them to provide care to those who may not be able to visit the pharmacy in person. There is an opportunity to provide support to vulnerable patients with medication delivery from their phone, in the comfort of their own homes. Companies like Healistic are key innovators in this area.
Furthermore, we have an opportunity to improve patient education. The use of mobile applications and websites can help patients understand their conditions better, learn about their medications and access support groups. For example, in Denmark, patients can access an online platform that provides them with information on medical conditions, medications and side effects.
In academia, digital health can help students become better equipped with the necessary skills to provide the best care to their patients and develop skills to meet the demands of the evolving healthcare sector. In countries like the United States and Canada, digital health is integrated into the academic curriculum, ensuring that future pharmacists have the necessary skills to leverage technology in their practice.
My plan for the future of pharmacy for the next 5–10 years involves the use of digital health technologies to improve patient outcomes and help pharmacists provide better care to patients. By embracing innovation and digital health we can help create a more dynamic and advanced pharmacy workforce.
Sorbi Khattak, English Pharmacy Board candidate
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