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Apps and pharmacy

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I love my iPhone, it’s true. As I tell most of my friends, it is practically an extension of my brain as it keeps my dates in a calendar, my to-do-list, recipes, games and more all thanks to applications or ‘apps’ as they are known. There are so many possibilities and uses for apps that can make everyday tasks a little easier. Apps are becoming more advanced, sophisticated and programmers are making money by creating apps that can be used in all sectors of business. Recently, when I went to a restaurant, I noticed a waiter was using an iPad app that electronically organised and stored waiting customers’ names, their time of reservation and table availability. Genius!  I’m not sure if pharmacy has started to incorporate apps into the profession yet but I hope it comes soon as there is a great opportunity to increase convenience and efficiency. There is already a BNF app (not cheap) that I wish we were allowed to use in university rather than flicking through a book! It is much quicker to type in the name of a drug instead of first going to the index, recalling the alphabet, obtaining a page number and flicking back through the pages. This thought made me do a search into the kind of apps that are currently available related to pharmacy practice.Firstly, I came across an app that was a pill identifier, it reminded me of a forensic science module I had taken where we had to take dimensions of a pill, colour and markings and use rather ancient software to identify the name of the pill. I should tell my professor that there is an app we could have used instead! It also gives the pill warnings, indications and contraindications. It would be a great source of information if pharmacists could quickly look up drugs, their interactions and view alternative therapies. Oddly enough there is a feature that allows users to ‘rate’ the drug which may indicate patient satisfaction, occurence of side effects whist on the drug however, it may not be entirely appropriate. It’s a good idea but there is no way of telling how accurate the source of information is and if it is updated regularly. Plus, at the moment, most of the apps are aimed at an American market.Another app that I found was almost like an electronic blister pack, it sent the user text notifications at the time they needed to take their medication, how much and what type of pill. It would certainly help technology savvy patients but I can’t see the elderly warming to this one. There are apps to find local pharmacies including locating pharmacies if the user was abroad. Finally, there are some prescription tracker apps that keep records of a person’s medication and when the prescription needs to be refilled.There is a lot of opportunity in this sector to improve and in the future I can see apps used in pharmacy whether it’s for reference purposes, tracking prescription progress or possibly syncing prescription data between patients, pharmacists and doctors. 

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