Could automatic pharmacy be the future?

This was what I asked my fellow pharmacy managers and most said no, there are too many “shades of gray” in retail pharmacy that require a pharmacist to figure out. I do agree that pharmacists are required for a lot of tasks that a robot can not do like: counseling, unclear directions, catching uncommon errors, etc. On the other hand, I am a big fan of science fiction, and imagining a world where there are robot pharmacists really piques my interest. 

Thinking rationally though, there could be a pharmacy where only robot dispensing units are present. Simply, you just need to meet a few specific parameters.

1) The pharmacy likely has to be in an outpatient hospital setting, not retail. This allows it to have a set formulary, creating a very controlled environment.

2) Providers (from the hospital) can only order medication on the formulary and only with very specific directions.

3) If there are any major drug interactions, doctors can not order those medications. They will have to pick something else. 

4) You have a robot filling all medications. You can have another robot check to make sure the right pills are in the bottles. Pharmacy technicians will dispense the medications to patients. 

Of course, this hospital outpatient pharmacy can not exist at this point due to pharmacy laws but at least, it should be relatively safe for patients. 

There are quite a few issues with this pharmacy of course, feel free to point them out 🙂


High burnout for Clinical Pain Pharmacist

Though rare at one point. Clinical pain pharmacists (CPP) are becoming more common place; some pharmacist can even take extra schooling specifically to go into pain pharmacy. With this specialization becoming more popular, the increase risk of burnout also comes hand-in-hand. Why would this specialty cause so much burnout?

Opiates might not be appropriate for some chronic pain patients and will need to be stopped (tapered off). This process is very difficult and time consuming. A CPP main goal is to help patient through this very difficult time. When patients have an increase in pain during a taper, they might take out of their frustration towards the CPP.

Chronic pain is very difficult condition for most providers to talk about, and more so to try and treat. It should be treated by many different methods, not just medications. Some patients put too much focus on medications versus the other methods. This also puts a lot of focus and pressure for a CPP to come up with a solution by using only medications alone, which is not possible.