Digital Technologies- In Search of the Right Model...

How can you use digital technology to help patients with chronic pathologies?

What role can pharmacists play in setting up and providing available digital tools, mobile applications, digital connected health devices or, more generally, in monitoring and supporting patients, in conjunction with other health institutions?

Pharmacists and providing companies are looking for the right model to optimize this role.

The health sector is changing. With telemedicine, digitally connected medical devices and mobile applications, we have entered the era of e-Health, which has already changed the behavior of patients, their needs but most importantly, their expectations.Digital Technologies- In Search of the Right Model...To measure blood pressure or blood glucose, send prescriptions to perform at the pharmacy or inform about the availability of a drug, thousands of health apps are available on the Smartphone.    

In addition to the applications that appeal to the public and concern their wellness and form, there is a growing development of scoring and medical monitoring applications ... used by health professionals to facilitate their practices and diagnoses.

But also, some pharmaceutical companies, offer applications for chronic patients or for patients with serious diseases, to help them understand their pathology and manage their treatment.

For example, by sending a reminder to take their medicine, companies manage to reach the patient directly with targeted information.

By proposing reliable and effective applications to their patients- customers, the creation of faithful customers is enhanced.

Of course, applications will never replace personal contact between a pharmacist and his patient. However, they offer significant advantages, upgrading the provision of services and offering them a new modern tool to the health professional, for better management of treatment.

A difficult choice

Using digital technology in the service of patients suffering from chronic pathologies, is obvious. The available technologies are indeed capable of preventing, tracking, and supporting patients in many cases, from the most benign to the most severe.

Whether it is mobile applications, digitally connected medical devices, telemedicine platforms, or for AI tools, their use has demonstrated their usefulness.

Although this technology seems to be necessary, it is not yet a challenge for most of the pharmacists today in Greece! 

Faced with a plethora of tools available, how will they choose and recommend to their customers the appropriate application, or device?

Pharmacists find it difficult to suggest something unless there is a real, official certification.

This can only be done at European level because European directives take precedence over national legislation, but the CE marking of medical devicesalready existsand will soon develop into many tools, simplifying procedures and broadening their scope.

For pharmacists, the key is to propose an application or a digitally connected medical device, which has a real use value for patients. How can they recognize it?

In addition to a simple label, perhaps the popularity of the tool or the way it was designed or the company or organization that created it.

It is a fact that 70% of health applications for mobile phones are abandoned by patients in the first month, a fact that is attributed to the fact that many of them have not been completed or have not considered the real needs of patients.

Finally, the company provider of digital services, must support and inform the pharmacist about the use of its applications, as due to his many duties, it will be difficult to operate a digitally connected device or a mobile application on his own, without any information, and then communicate this to his patients.

Pharmacists in general have not yet realised the interest offered by these digital tools and therefore need the help of provider companies to train them on these applications.

Undoubtedly, the role of the pharmacist is not limited to the establishment and provision of digital tools for the monitoring of chronic pathologies; this is a position that requires the existence of cooperation, in which the pharmacist will have an active monitoring role, connected to all the stakeholders around the patient: doctors., nurses, etc.

However, we know that evolution using digital technology is something that will happen anyway, remains to be seen how.

We should not hide ourselves: it will take a long time to redefine the model of patient care, using modern digital tools…

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