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AI Reshapes Online Pharmacy With Speed, Accuracy, Convenience

How AI Is Reshaping the Online Pharmacy Landscape

Artificial intelligence is changing the online pharmacy world by simplifying tasks like managing prescriptions, keeping track of inventory and talking to customers.

Amazon Pharmacy is using AI to help expand its same-day delivery service, starting in New York City and Los Angeles. Using “generative artificial intelligence and machine learning,” the service aims to quicken prescription fulfillment, potentially reducing treatment delivery to just a few hours. The new service is an example of how pharmacies of all sizes harness AI’s power to streamline operations and deliver better patient experiences.

“AI is a transformative tool for pharmacists, primarily because it streamlines complex processes and enhances accuracy, which is crucial in the realm of prescription management,” Sahily Paoline, chief clinical officer at Xevant, a pharmaceutical analytics company that uses AI, told PYMNTS.

Getting Prescriptions Right

A benefit of AI is its ability to ensure patients receive the correct medications. Joe Tammaro, vice president of pharmacy solutions at DrFirst, told PYMNTS that doctors and pharmacy systems often use different terms for medication instructions. Plus, pharmacies may have the same medication that was prescribed but from various manufacturers. This discrepancy means pharmacy technicians must manually interpret, transcribe and enter this information into their system.

“That’s why AI is especially useful for pharmacists,” he said. “It automates the process, saving valuable time while reducing opportunities for error.”

A nationwide mail-order pharmacy has used AI for over a year to boost productivity and avoid errors, Tammaro said. Its staff now processes three times as many prescriptions per hour and has cut errors found by supervising pharmacists by 80%.

“By standardizing the prescription instructions that arrive in many different forms (often with missing pieces of information), the pharmacy team can now focus more on patients and less on the keyboard,” he said.

Tapping AI to Look for Patterns

Jason Gasper, senior vice president and chief commercial officer of OrderInsite, an inventory software company for pharmacies, told PYMNTS that his company’s Guardian solution uses AI to help identify potential instances of prescription fraud or abuse by analyzing prescription patterns, dispensing habits and patient profiles. It can flag suspicious activities, enabling the pharmacy to take appropriate measures to protect against misuse.

“It’s important to note that while AI can greatly benefit pharmacies, human expertise and judgment remain crucial,” he said. “AI systems should be viewed as tools to augment and support pharmacists rather than replace them, ensuring the highest standards of patient care and safety.”

OrderInsite’s AI technology uses past prescription information, what’s currently in stock and other essential details to improve inventory management, forecast needs and streamline ordering. The system looks at patterns to spot shortages or excesses and recommends how much to order and when. Gasper said this method reduces pharmacists’ workload, freeing them to focus on the most critical aspect of their job: taking care of patients.

AI algorithms excel at analyzing large datasets of patient information. These algorithms can identify potential drug interactions, allergies and dosage errors that might be overlooked by a human pharmacist, especially during peak hours. AI-powered alerts and recommendations enhance patient safety and prevent costly mistakes.

AI Automation

Repetitive tasks like prescription entry, refill reminders and prior authorizations often consume pharmacists’ time. AI can automate these processes, allowing pharmacists to focus on patient counseling, medication reviews and clinical interventions. This increased efficiency translates to faster prescription turnaround times and reduced patient wait times.

“AI offers pharmacists valuable tools and capabilities to optimize patient care, improve medication management and advance pharmacy practice in various healthcare settings,” Digital Wave Technology Chief Digital Officer Sara Meza, who works with both traditional and online pharmacies to implement the latest AI technologies and streamline operations, told PYMNTS. “These tools and systems can assist pharmacists in managing medication effectively by identifying potential drug interactions, allergies and contraindications.”

Chatbots powered by AI can provide 24/7 support, answering common medication questions, reminding users to refill their medications and offering health advice. This frees pharmacists from more complex patient interactions and builds a stronger patient-pharmacy relationship.

AI-based forecasting tools analyze historical sales data, seasonality and local demographics. They can accurately predict medication demand, ensuring pharmacies maintain optimal inventory levels. This proactive approach minimizes stockouts and helps reduce medication waste.

The Future of AI-Driven Pharmacies

Meza predicted that in the future, AI algorithms will become even more sophisticated at analyzing individual health data, allowing online pharmacies to offer personalized recommendations for medications, supplements and healthcare products. Pharmacies can use genomic data, wearable devices and continuous monitoring to tailor treatments to patients’ needs. AI-powered predictive analytics will also play a bigger role in anticipating health outcomes, identifying at-risk populations and preventing disease progression.

She added: “Online pharmacies can leverage predictive models to proactively intervene, promote preventive care, and optimize medication regimens to improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.”

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