Computer Critical to Pharmacy Practice in the '90S: Knowlto

Article excerpt

Computer-based cognitive services will play an increasingly important role in community pharmacy, according to Calvin Knowlton, R.Ph., associate professor of pharmacy, Philadelphia College of Pharmacy & Science.

"Pharmacists are now expected to do more than just dispense drugs," he told the annual meeting of the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy. "In terms of the profession, I believe we have a new mission in the 1990s, in which the computer will play a key role."

There are a number of social and political issues shaping the direction of pharmacy practice, he observed. These include the rising costs of health care, the need for quality of care, and changing reimbursement patterns, as well as ongoing concern about adverse drug reactions and compliance.

The professor introduced a paradigm called "ABCs" to illustrate his point. The paradigm describes key areas where the computer will not only make the pharmacist's job easier but will also enhance overall service to the patient. The idea, he said, is to move the computer out of the back room and onto the front counter.

The "A" in ABCs stands for assessment. Formerly, the only information available for assessment was what was written on the patient's Rx, Knowlton explained. There was a lack of information to help the pharmacist determine if this was an appropriate drug for the patient. By meeting directly with the patient, he said, the pharmacist can gather much useful information. This might include: what prescription and over-the-counter medications are being taken; what conditions are being treated; age, height, and weight of patient; and so on.

"In this case, it is best to have the pharmacist, rather than the technician, receive the Rx," Knowlton pointed out. "The best counseling takes place before you even process the Rx into the computer. Once the data are obtained, the pharmacist can track the patient's prescription history."

This kind of patient information can be critical in helping prevent adverse drug reactions, he went on. Talking over the patient's perception of the medication can also help improve compliance. …