Lack of emotional comfort, disregard for the patient’s opinion, and a low level of cooperation between doctors and pharmacies are some of the common strains on doctor-patient relationships today. Although technology cannot solve them all, it can help us create a complex ecosystem that puts patients at the center again. This is exactly what the Pharmacy of the Future concept is about.
Are you ready for another eCommerce concept brought to life in the Divante Innovation Lab? This time we looked at healthcare system users and the buying journey for medication. What are the struggles? How can we make challenging moments in their lives easier? Can we go beyond the purchase path and help create a safer environment that protects health?
What is missing in the communication between patients and pharmacists?
According to the Siemens Healthiness report, only 38% of patients received fully understandable medical information during their last visit to the doctor and felt they could freely ask for details. This leaves the majority of people who need medical support in danger of taking medication in an inappropriate way due to a lack of information or comprehension.
To find answers to these questions, we partnered with Apteka Gemini, one of the biggest pharmaceutical chains in central Europe. We needed reliable insights into how patients are getting their medications and what kind of support they need.
“Due to changing human environment and lifestyle—as well as shortages and constraints in healthcare services—there is a growing gap between patient needs and healthcare supply. In Gemini, we believe, that there is a huge untapped potential in the pharmacy sector which lies in the intersection of professional pharma-care and technology.”Patryk Dolewa, CIO Gemini Polska
It turned out that the current pharmaceutical system is flawed in so many ways. In most cases, the patient must repetitively visit doctors, complement lacking information about their health condition, look for the available medications, and constantly monitor their health. For many healthy people, this would be already a strain. Just imagine how much harder this must be for older patients or those who must take medications throughout their whole lives!
“The impact of technology, often on very complex medical processes, is already visible. Compared to humans, solutions based on AI and ML allow for a much faster diagnosis of diseases. IoT technologies help prevent sudden, life-threatening situations. While today’s client solutions available on the pharmaceutical market make very little use of available technologies, I believe that, in the near future, we can expect a significant deepening of the use of technologies that will connect all market participants (patients, doctors, laboratories, suppliers).”Piotr Szawiec, Customer Experience Expert at Quality Watch
Developing a future solution that connects people with medical services
According to McKinsey, over 75% of patients expect to use digital services in the future. We believe that this change will come very soon. Together with developers and analysts from Divante Innovation Lab, we ran an analysis of technologies that are already used in other sectors. Things like artificial intelligence, the internet of things, or visual search are already quite popular and there are a handful of really good solutions dedicated to the medical sector. Why not use them?
With a selection of possible technologies, we put the patient in the center of our design process and start looking for necessary healthcare products and solutions. We worked out all processes and interactions always start from patients and accordingly flow towards doctors, pharmacists, laboratories, medical stores and pharmacies, families, carers, and delivery companies. We searched for all interactions between these players and looked at how we could simplify this flow.
That’s how our concept for Pharmacy of the Future was coined.
Concept of the Pharmacy of the Future
With the Pharmacy of the Future, we imagined a perfect system and how it could look. Divided into multiple products and services, it turns out to be a complementary and flexible set of tools for various players in the intersection of pharmaceutical, medical, and other related sectors. All of these elements are centered around the patient.
“Focusing all products and services used in the Pharmacy of the Future on the patient was crucial. Throughout the treatments and medication, the patient is the only point that connects all others. We shouldn’t forget about that.”Artur Wala, Head of Divante Innovation Lab
What are the benefits of a user-centered approach in the pharmaceutical sector?
Putting the user in the center of the Pharmacy of the Future concept is beneficial for all engaged players. First and foremost, we make the user responsible for their own health and for the continuity of pharmaceutical information. It doesn’t matter if the user changes medical center or moves to another city and shops in different pharmacies each time.
Secondly, the patient always has access to their medication history and he can easily share it with pharmacists or doctors and give them a wider overview of medical conditions. This way, specialists can provide him with better-adjusted treatment.
Last but not least, we included the patient’s opinion in the process, which is an important factor in building trust between medics, pharmacists, and patients.
Key elements and technologies of the Pharmacy of the Future
Advanced user panel – a PWA app that enables a user to collect treatment data, access information about drugs, book and buy drugs, and communicate with experts, either doctors, pharmacists, labs, or day carers. Easily accessible on all devices.
Integration with pharmacies and medical centers – throughout which a patient can share and update treatment history, get advice on drugs, receive and realize prescriptions, and contact with experts.
Intuitive drugs search – accessible either via barcode scanner or text search which, in connection with Artificial Intelligence, gives the user comprehensive information about the drug, its availability, and possible interactions with other drugs.
Integration with online pharmacies – where the patient can gain a prescription for RX drugs and simply buy OTC drugs with flexible delivery options: same-day delivery, via vending machines, or on-site pick-up.
Integration with local delivery companies – just like Glovo, who could ensure bringing necessary medications on the same day.
Internet of Things connection – the patient can collect additional data regarding his or her health, voice order new medications or medical products, and get updates about the current availability.
AI support – that analyzes all data and helps a patient to keep their health in good shape either via suggestions of periodic check-ups, notices about poor medical results or need, or re-ordering drugs.
All these functionalities can be developed with technologies like WebNFC, Azure Data Lake, Azure for Health Cloud, Divante Video Sales, Human API, IoT, AI, Big Data, and Machine Learning, connected and organized with the headless approach and microservices architecture.
“Pharmacy of the future is an excellent direction for building completely new customer experiences. Such experiences, which facilitate the patient’s purchase and treatment, will ensure a significantly higher level of patient safety. What is equally important is that they reduce some of the costs occurring in the current patient service model.“Piotr Szawiec, Customer Experience Expert at Quality Watch
If you want to understand the Pharmacy of the Future concept better, follow the user path step by step. We have constructed a user journey for a patient with diabetes who has recently caught a cold. The most important steps on this path compose of:
- Visiting a doctor with the cold – The doctor has access to the full record of diabetes treatment via Pharmacy of the Future, selects adjusted treatment, and adds a prescription directly in the patient’s user profile.
- Buying medications – User can immediately book the prescribed medications and collect them at the pharmacy or vending machine on his way home.
- Following up on the treatment process at home – Pharmacy of the Future will remind the patient about the drug intake at the right time and keep track of the proper treatment process.
- Keeping track of blood sugar level – A parallel app will record blood sugar data from the integrated measuring device and store it in the Pharmacy of the Future app. The patient will get notifications on the phone or smartwatch about worrying trends, and the need for a periodic check-up.
- Consultation with a pharmacist – In case of doubts about dosage or availability of medications, the patient can directly consult with the pharmacist via chat, messages, or phone.
- Reordering and delivery – The patient can reorder medical equipment for checking blood sugar levels via the app or even a smart speaker and get the delivery conducted by the local courier company on the same day.
More about Pharmacy of the Future
The concept of Pharmacy of the Future is based on available technologies and solutions which are already used in some sectors; however, its realization depends on the current state of legislation. Both local and international laws control and limit certain possibilities of this concept, such as the controlled access to prescription drugs. This is clear, as some medications can be harmful and access to them must be protected.
Nonetheless, as the current coronavirus outbreak shows that there are multiple areas of the medical and pharmaceutical sectors that can be successfully organized in other ways and can become a foundation for pharmacies of the future.
If this concept is something that you’d like to leverage in your business, or if you’d simply like to learn more, feel free to contact us.
Published April 29, 2020