COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the digital health era. Digital health includes various advanced technologies such as telehealth, health apps, medication reminders sent via email or text, and remote patient monitoring.
The remote patient monitoring will continue to expand and integrate creating a hybrid of in-person and virtual care. Human touch is getting augmented with these hybrid models and these model enables enhancement of the patient-provider experience and improving access, quality, and outcomes of care.
Hence it is a need of an hour for Pharmacists to prepare for evolving roles that leverage advanced technologies to support patients’ health, well-being, and treatment optimization.
Before getting prepared for this evolving digital health era, pharmacists should know in-depth about digital health which will be described following:
According to FDA digital health includes various technologies that can empower consumers to make better-informed decisions about their health and provide new options for facilitating prevention, early diagnosis of life-threatening diseases, and management of chronic conditions outside of traditional health care settings.
Today, various medical devices are connected to and communicate with other devices or systems, and FDA-approved, authorized devices are updated to add digital features.
Various stakeholders like patients, health care practitioners, researchers, traditional medical device industry firms are involved in digital health activities and firms new to the FDA regulatory requirements, such as mobile application developers.
Telehealth is playing important role in the digital health era. There are a variety of telehealth tools available to help providers and patients manage health care. E-health or m-health (mobile health) are goals of telehealth.
The exponential rise of telehealth
COVID-19 is the main driver for the exponential growth of telehealth services which provides continued, safe access to care. Both health care providers and patients now realizing the benefits of the virtual care experience.
However, it is a need of an hour to overcome integration challenges for sustainability, moreover, there is a digital divide for example- the gap between those who have ready access to computers and the internet and those who do not. Which needs to be overcome for sustainability.
Use advanced technologies for Medication adherence
Rising technological advancements have seen a push to go beyond smartphone app notifications in favor of sensor-enabled medications or the Internet of Things (IoT) integrated drug delivery systems.
Hence digital health companies are now focusing on ways to increase medication adherence as well as objective or subjective tracking of patients’ self-administration of medications.
Pharmacists can remotely monitor how patients take their medication with these advanced technologies allowing a targeted approach to support medication use, patient engagement, and treatment optimization.
After knowing about digital health and its ecosystem, let’s look at the role of the pharmacist in the digital health era.
Role of pharmacist in digital health era
With the help of telemedicine services, the pharmacist can provide improved drug safety.
For example- In three community hospitals, pharmacists provided Telemedicine services after-hours without 24-hour pharmacy services resulted in improved drug safety since prescribing accuracy was verified.
With telemedicine services, the interventions of pharmacists were five times greater for resolving drug-related problems compared with not providing telemedicine services.
Employing telemedicine services nearly the estimated annual costs avoided were $261,109 per hospital.
SOFTWARE AS MEDICINE
DTx is software that delivers a clinical mechanism of action, either alone or in combination with other standard-of-care treatments to improve outcomes. Pharmacists will need to include Medications that may come paired with DTx, in the medication reconciliation process to ensure treatment continues.
Digital health integration
Today various Digital health products and solutions are getting integrated into the care that pharmacists provide. Moreover, they are acting as a digital translator for patients, accessing data on remote patient monitoring platforms.
Today hybrid care models are the preferred choice of pharmacists to engage with patients and matching individuals with medication and a digital companion. Also, they help patients to support treatment optimization.
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