Whether your organization has already begun the necessary process of incorporating data analytics and artificial intelligence into pharmacy operations or it is undergoing a due diligence project to decide if it’s time to implement a pharmacy technology upgrade initiative, one thing is for sure: Data analytics and artificial intelligence will have a tremendous impact on how pharmacies operate, both today and well into the future. Pharmacies that are early adopters of such technology will have strategic advantages over those pharmacies that choose to delay.
Pharmacies that embrace pharmacy technology could generate a lot more money than pharmacies that don’t. According to McKinsey (via TechEmergence), “Big data and machine learning in pharma and medicine could generate a value of up to $100 billion annually, based on better decision-making, optimized innovation, improved efficiency of research/clinical trials, and new tool creation for physicians, consumers, insurers and regulators.”
Here are some ways that data analytics and artificial intelligence are changing the pharmaceutical industry.
More Personalized Treatment
With the prevalence of the internet, transactional-based pharmacies are at a distinct disadvantage. Patients can simply choose to fill prescriptions at the cheapest and most convenient place. As a result, pharmacies that want to cultivate long-term relationships and revenue need to find a way to provide more value. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society indicates that pharmacists “should shift their focus away from the distribution of medicines towards providing a broader range of services.”
This means more personalized treatment. Pharmacies need to become health management centers where patients can get help managing their long-term health conditions. It is no longer enough for pharmacists to simply fill prescriptions. Since patients can go online to get prescriptions filled, there needs to be more service provided by pharmacies to attract customers. Artificial intelligence can help by providing more personalized treatment recommendations that pharmacists can give to patients. According to Hungarian medical doctor Bertalan Mesko, “Instead of developing treatments for populations and making the same medical decisions based on a few similar physical characteristics among patients, medicine has shifted toward prevention, personalization and precision. In this shift and cultural transformation, AI is the key technology that can bring this opportunity to everyday practice.”
Volume Of Data
Many pharmacies likely have a decade of data that is accessible to them, including patient, insurance and supply chain data. For many pharmacies, this data hasn’t been thoroughly analyzed to see what insights can be gathered. For instance, analyzing prescription purchase data can provide insight into your customer’s shopping habits. Maybe patients who fill certain prescriptions tend to also buy certain products. Understanding how your pharmacy’s patients shop and what they buy can help your organization stock the right items, perhaps at a scale that reduces their acquisition costs.
Data analytics can also improve budgeting and efficiencies throughout the organization. With access to your organization’s supply chain data, you might be able to identify opportunities for improvement that you may not see otherwise. This includes streamlining supply chain processes, negotiating better rates and anticipating future patient needs.
Some of the reasons why pharmacies turn to these technologies are to improve inventory management processes or improve patient adherence within clinical platforms. Using artificial intelligence and predictive modeling, pharmacies will be able to ensure patients stay on therapy and create actionable plans for when patients change therapy or fall off therapy. University of Toronto professor Brian Hodges used AI intelligence to plan radiation treatment for patients, completing treatment plans in four minutes that previously took providers over two hours to complete prior to the technology implementation. This same concept can be applied to pharmacy platforms for patient therapy.
For decades, pharmacists have been left out of patient health records. This can be an issue for pharmacies looking to provide more holistic and personalized health care advice to patients. Some of this is changing because of integrated electronic health records systems and other pharmacy technologies. When providers and pharmacists have access to all the information, patients benefit with more accurate recommendations and treatment measures.
Artificial intelligence can help to change this phenomenon. It can help to anticipate or predict health care conditions patients face. According to an article in the American Journal for Health-System Pharmacy, “A value-based strategy, unbiased by hype or fear, can upgrade pharmacy practice with AI. There are 3 parts of this value-based strategy: (1) identify time-consuming analytic tasks, (2) use AI to partially automate those tasks while directing pharmacist attention to salient patient issues, and (3) continuously evaluate the effects of AI.” Combined with data analytics, which can pinpoint specific conditions prevalent in a pharmacy’s customer base, AI can enable pharmacies to deliver better care to customers and their families.
Today and in the future, pharmacy technology can make the difference between a pharmacy that is popular and profitable and one that isn’t. It can improve efficiencies, lower costs and enable pharmacists to deliver a better standard of care that’s more personalized. In order to remain competitive and meet industry goals, implementing pharmacy technology, such as artificial intelligence and data analytics, is inevitable. It makes a lot of sense to implement this pharmacy technology early, before patients come to expect this level of care.