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Pharmacy must be alert to new technologies


Pharmacy must be alert to new technologies

We all need to be alert to developments in pharmacogenomics and game-changing technological advances, says NPA policy manager Helga Mangion 

In a recent speech on NHS reform, health secretary Sajid Javid called genomics “the future of post-pandemic healthcare”.

In the not-too-distant future, he said, medicine will be personalised in ways previously unimaginable. He predicted that gene therapies will become ubiquitous and dramatically improve our ability to prevent, detect and treat ill health.

His remarks coincided with the publication of a report on personalised prescribing by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Pharmacological Society.

That report recommended further research into the role of pharmacists in all settings, including the role of community pharmacies in the implementation of pharmacogenomics.

It called for a pharmaco-genomics consultation service in every integrated care system in England and envisaged pharmacists having a key role in local multidisciplinary teams. 

Personalised care

Genomics is a subject that the NPA has long been interested in. Embracing opportunities to provide personalised care could strengthen the sector’s offering significantly. Indeed, last year we called on the Government to fulfil a proposal in its 2019 green paper to embed genomics in routine healthcare.

Dr Joanne Hackett, head of genomic and precision medicine at IQVIA, was the main guest at a NPA workshop on the future of community pharmacy. She was clear that we need to move away from a one-dose-fits-all approach to medicines.

Game changing 

As we look forward to technological advances in healthcare, we can already point to significant changes in terms of modernising community pharmacy.

Robot dispensers are no longer the preserve of a small number of pioneers. Most prescriptions are now electronic and many pharmacies (perhaps especially so in Scotland) are getting used to having remote video consultations in their patient communications toolkit.

It is one of the NPA’s core beliefs that pharmacies must be progressive and modern, while at the same time being true to the historic values of pharmacy as a personal, caring profession. The sector should be looking to optimise the use of technology to strengthen pharmacy’s locally-based service proposition, personalise care, achieve efficiencies and improve safety.

That is why the NPA has invested in digital-enabled services like Pro Delivery Manager and various data products, as well as a range of business partnerships that use apps to drive footfall. 

The NPA’s centenary showed just how far things have come in 100 years and reminded us all that nothing in this world stands still.

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