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Better technology needed for pharmacists

4th December 2009

David Pruce, Policy Director of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, says pharmacists need better support to meet the increasing challenges they face.

pharmacy 1Q

A growing number of pharmacists are becoming frustrated that their skills are under-used.

They have more in-depth knowledge about medicines than any other healthcare profession but the problem arises because the increased complexity of medicines makes prescribing more difficult.

NICE recognises poor prescribing is a serious problem and some 5% of all hospital admissions are the result of adverse effects of medicines.

It means doctors need more support from pharmacists.

While pharmacists are an integral part of the team in a hospital setting it is in the community where they could play an important role as that is where most prescribing begins.

Pharmacists offer medicine use reviews and screening services, but they do this on top of rising dispensing volumes meaning many are overworked. Ten hour shifts are common.

Pharmacists need to free up time from dispensing while maintaining accuracy.

Dispensing is a very manual task and while there is an electronic prescription solution within NHS IT projects, it is slow to deliver.

With no industry standard bar code, that is not an immediate solution and often the prescription size does not match a pack size.

How much easier if the pharmacist could round up or round down the quantity to the nearest pack size.

These solutions are not rocket science but need better co-operation between the government, the pharmaceutical industry and the profession.

This will free pharmacists to further use their expert knowledge to benefit patients.

 

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