The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has urged pharmacists to take advantage of the prevailing digital space to respond efficiently to the health demands of the people.
He said pharmacists were an integral part of the healthcare system, for which reason it was essential they used technology to improve their output.
“In our various communities, whenever there is a health issue, the first port of call is usually the local drug store or pharmacy which offers the necessary advice.
“As pharmacists have become an integral part of our communities, the question is, how can we use technology to improve service delivery as we dispense drugs?
“I am of the firm belief that taking advantage of the digital space will spur you on to achieve this objective,” Dr Bawumia added.
He was speaking at a public lecture organised by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana (PSGH) in Accra last Tuesday on the theme: “Pharmacy in a digital world”.
He, therefore, called for the use of Information Technology to build community databases on prescriptions and medications to complement health records in the hospitals for prescribers and pharmacists, and also to be used for the storage of patient records, facilitate the dispensing and administration of medicines and provide tools for monitoring the efficacy and safety of medicines in use.
The Vice-President said the government had set out a vision to digitise as a way of transforming the country, hence the engagement by the government in many initiatives in many sectors of the country, including the health sector.
He hinted that the government was in the process of digitising medical records to make retrieval of records much easier for quick diagnosis at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, announcing that “Korle Bu will soon be paperless”.
Citing the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) registration via mobile phone as an example of how digitisation had made an impact, Dr Bawumia said “We are presently getting over 70,000 registration of NHIS every week”, and, therefore, urged the country and for that matter pharmacists to use remote consultations together with electronic prescription systems, notably Internet pharmacy supply services, to transform how services were provided.
He advised that mobile phones could be embraced and used to enable simple text messages in community pharmacies to remind patients, especially senior citizens, about their prescriptions.
“Of course, the use of mobile phones is widespread in Ghana; can we embrace this to enable simple text messages in your community pharmacies to remind patients, especially senior citizens, about their prescriptions?”
the Vice-President asked, indicating that “these types of alerts will really help and so I am hopeful this will promote data gathering in your pharmacies to promote disease monitoring such as asthma, monitoring of blood group, glucose levels, medication adherence support and health education”.
He further challenged pharmacists to set themselves another year to bring a major change in the pharmaceutical industry in Ghana in the context of digitisation.
Mobile app inventor
Dr Bawumia commended young pharmacist, Mr Hayford Nkansah Brako, for developing a mobile app to make drugs and pharmacies easily accessible to patients and communities, and called for closer collaboration among key players in the sector to make sure systems such as the mobile app were available for the public to use.
He, therefore, invited Mr Brako to a meeting and said people like him must be encouraged.
The President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana, Mr Benjamin Kwame Botwe, earlier observed that digitisation was affecting the entire value chain of pharmaceutical services.
That, he explained, included research, manufacturing and distribution as well as the health of patients and the health sector in general.
He said with the advent of the Internet and technological advancements in many fields, including health care, it was important that pharmacists thought strategically to be able to innovate, improve upon medicines research, production, distribution, supply chain management, product security and patient care.
Mr Botwe acknowledged the personal interest shown by Dr Bawumia in the effort to build the digital world to the supply chain of most critically needed medicines, vaccines and products including the Zipline operations for the delivery of critical medicines and blood, saying the use of technology had also led to improved information sharing and patients’ outcomes.
He added that he had proposed a concept known as a “model pharmacy concept” which among other services was to reach underserved communities with pharmaceutical services and care, improve access to medicines in peri-urban and rural communities and to provide job opportunities for up and coming young pharmacists.
The proposed model, Mr Botwe explained, would be technology based and supported by a very efficient digital supply chain and therapeutic outcomes, as well as safety monitoring for which “the final goal is to have a One District, One Model Pharmacy.”