Wearing well

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Wearing well

Saam Ali argues that digital medicine should be fully involved in everyday pharmacy practice. The smartphone has revolutionised the way we live. It’s involved in nearly every aspect of our lives. We use it to help us to wake up, to get to work on time, to plan the meeting we have at 2pm, to conduct the same meeting, to buy a kid’s birthday gift on the way home from work, and then we play music from it when relaxing at home. Without it, life would be less convenient. 

An area of our lives where the smartphone and other wearables are having a significant impact is our health. There are now over 325,000 mobile health, or mHealth, apps available on Apple and Android and new wearables are being released every week.

A wearable is something that you wear on your body and is designed to help improve your health and fitness, such as the FitBit. There are many benefits to mHealth and wearable technology, far too many to list here, however, the main ones include:

  • Improving self-care: mHealth technology is helping us manage our own health better. Apps are helping us improve our medication compliance, lose weight, improve our mental health and connect with individuals who have the same condition as us.
  • Delivering better personalised care: By collecting data through wearables and apps, healthcare practitioners will be able to design a more personalised health strategy that will be more effective for you as an individual.
  • Convenience: The ability to order our medication directly from our smartwatch or speak to a clinician face-to-face via video is helping us save time and money.

Counselling aid

Essentially, apps and wearables are forms of digital medicine and therefore should be fully involved in everyday pharmacy practice. They should be involved in conversations over the counter, during MURs and
when conducting NMS reviews over the phone. Indeed, mHealth should now be a mandatory part of our overall counselling.

Below are some examples of mHealth products that you could recommend in certain situations during your practice:

Headspace: A meditation app that is helping millions of people across the globe improve their mental state and well-being. This could be recommended when selling over-the-counter herbal products to an anxious person, for example.

Motiv Ring: A “smart ring” that helps track your fitness, heart rate and sleep, and which is becoming much more popular due to its discreteness. This wearable tech, similar to a FitBit, could easily be recommended during an MUR and will be a great tool to help both you and patient track their health outcomes.

Patient Partner: A new app by CyberDoctor that is helping improve medication compliance through ‘game-ification’. I personally love this! This could be recommended in every situation where medication compliance might be an issue for someone.

I believe it’s really important to embrace digital health – don’t fight it! It really does pain me when I hear fellow community pharmacy colleagues oppose new technology or competing innovative applications. There is no justification since these tools are helping people to get better quicker. That’s the whole point, right? Instead, we need to learn about new technology, harness it and encompass it into our overall business and practice.

Digital healthcare and digital pharmacy is our future so the more we can adopt it now, the better for the sustainability of our business and the care we give to our patients.

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