THE Australian pharmacy profession should be preparing for disruptive change, with the sector likely to be heavily impacted by changes in technology just as much as other parts of the economy such as retailing (Amazon), taxis (Uber) and accommodation (Airbnb).
That’s the blunt warning issued by John Jackson from the Monash University Centre for Medicine Use & Safety (pictured), in response to last week’s Productivity Commission proposals relating to the rise of automatic dispensing overseen by a new, less-qualified, type of pharmacy staffer (PD 25 Oct).
Jackson told Pharmacy Daily “what the Commission has highlighted can be easily foreseen, as it is the amalgamation of a range of existing technologies and a replication of what has already occurred in other industries”.
He said wise leaders of the profession should understand and admit “that the status quo, whether in relation to dispensing arrangements or some of the other sacred cows of the profession, will not be maintained”.
Jackson urged an open and honest dialogue within the profession in order to further entice pharmacists to strengthen their focus on professional healthcare services – things that cannot as yet be done by a robot.
The alternative, he said, was to “drift further towards a business model based on commoditised product supply that can be easily deskilled and automated”.
Jackson said discussions with the regulators and funders of the sector are necessary to ensure that they know the true cost, in both health outcomes and monetary terms, of potential disruptive change.
A paper written by Jackson and colleagues from the Monash Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences was published last year in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy discusses the impact of centralised automatic dispensing.
The document says pharmacists are ideally placed to continue to enhance their role in the Quality Use of Medicine under such a scenario, by interacting with the consumer before the submission of an electronic prescription, when the medication is delivered, or both.
“The pharmacy profession has claimed the provision of QUM services as core to its existence for many years, yet to date has failed to have them clearly described, measured, valued and remunerated,” the paper continues – view it at www.sciencedirect.com.