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Adopting Technological Advancements in Pharmacy Practice: A Student’s Perspective

By Tiffany Dinh posted 26 days ago

  

Tiffany Dinh is a fourth-year pharmacy student from The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy. She is currently completing an APPE rotation with ASHP, focusing on national association management and working on projects related to the Innovation Center. As a student who began pharmacy school at the height of the pandemic, she is intrigued by the pivotal role of technology in shaping modern healthcare practices. Recognizing the importance of staying on top of emerging advancements in the field, she aims to share her research findings with fellow peers and colleagues from a student’s perspective:  

The landscape of pharmacy continuously evolves, and the last several decades have witnessed great advances with technological integration into healthcare. The COVID-19 pandemic increased the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to expedite remote working, enhance the patient experience, and decrease costs (Reynolds, 2021). The pandemic also greatly influenced how pharmacists had to quickly adapt to meet patient care needs. In this digitized era, the model has shifted to telehealth, digital health tools, and remote patient monitoring. In order to keep up with the accelerated growth of technology, pharmacy practice could greatly benefit from adoption of these advancements.  

By leveraging technology to assist with manual tasks, pharmacists may have more time to devote to higher acuity clinical tasks (Smoke, 2024). Through the utilization of AI algorithms, pharmacists can efficiently analyze extensive patient data, encompassing medical records, lab results, and medication profiles. This allows them to identify potential drug-drug interactions, assess the safety and efficacy of medicines, and make informed recommendations tailored to individual patients. While technology is evolving, it is important for students, as practitioners of the future, to have education and exposure to AI and its capabilities within pharmacy practice.  

In reviewing literature examples and adoption of new technologies in education, AI has been piloted in the pharmacy curriculum through virtual reality (VR) learning, providing an immersive and interactive learning environment (Batson and Mara, 2024). Students have engaged in virtual hospital settings where they interacted with AI-driven patient profiles, assessed medication regimens, and identified potential drug-drug interactions (Chalasani et al., 2023). By navigating these simulations, students gained valuable insights into the nuances of the medication use process within clinical environments.  

AI integration has value beyond simulation and personalized learning. AI algorithms could adjust based on student responses, tailoring learning experiences to the appropriate skill level (Alhur et al., 2023; Coyne et al., 2019). Furthermore, incorporating VR-based AI learning could enhance retention and understanding by offering a hands-on approach – bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application (Coyne et al., 2019). This technology may allow students to prepare for real-world pharmacy practice and utilize the patient care process (collect, assess, plan, implement, follow up: monitor and evaluate) to navigate complex scenarios.  

While integrating AI into pharmacy education presents exciting opportunities, and students should be excited about the future of practice, it is crucial to recognize potential pitfalls. AI algorithms may hold biases from the data they are being trained on, leading to inaccurate outcomes in medication management decisions (Dentzer, 2019). Ethical concerns surrounding patient privacy and consent raise concern as systems are increasingly interoperable. Additionally, ensuring access to up-to-date tools and reports poses a challenge as the field rapidly emerges, without a blueprint of standard guidelines to abide by. By proactively addressing these limitations and implementing robust governance and safety measures, students can better understand the significance of AI in pharmacy education (Schutz, 2020). As future pharmacists, students can uphold the highest standards of patient care and ethical practice. With this balanced approach, students can leverage technology in the curriculum to improve future healthcare outcomes with the evolving landscape of pharmacy practice.  

References:  

  1. Alhur A, Hedesh R, Alshehri M, et al. Incorporating Technology in Pharmacy Education: Students' Preferences and Learning Outcomes. Cureus. 2023;15(12):e50158. doi:10.7759/cureus.50158. 

  1. Batson C, Mara D. The Pharmacy Students' Guide to Artificial Intelligence-AI. J Pediatr Pharmacol Ther. 2024;29(1):85-89. doi:10.5863/1551-6776-29.1.85. 

  1. Chalasani SH, Syed J, Ramesh M, Patil V, Pramod Kumar TM. Artificial intelligence in the field of pharmacy practice: A literature review. Explor Res Clin Soc Pharm. 2023;12:100346. doi:10.1016/j.rcsop.2023.100346. 

  1. Coyne L, Merritt TA, Parmentier BL, Sharpton RA, Takemoto JK. The Past, Present, and Future of Virtual Reality in Pharmacy Education. Am J Pharm Educ. 2019;83(3):7456. doi:10.5688/ajpe7456. 

  1. Dentzer S. Creating the future of artificial intelligence in health-system pharmacy. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2019;76(24):1995–1996. doi:10.1093/ajhp/zxz268. 

  1. Schutz N, Olsen CA, McLaughlin AJ, Yi WM, Nelson SD, Kalichira AL, et al. ASHP Statement on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Pharmacy. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2020;77(23):2015–2018. doi:10.1093/ajhp/zxaa249. 

  1. Smoke S. Artificial intelligence in pharmacy: A guide for clinicians. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. 2024. doi:10.1093/ajhp/zxae051.  

  1. World Economic Forum. COVID-19 increased use of AI. Here's why it's here to stay. World Economic Forum website. Published February 25, 2021. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/02/covid-19-increased-use-of-ai-here-s-why-its-here-to-stay/  

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