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Commentary

The Evolution of Pharmacy Through Voice Technology


December 18, 2019

By Danny Sanchez, vice president and general manager of population health services, Omnicell

Danny SanchezIn-home voice assistants have proliferated rapidly in recent years, and the utility of such devices are only limited by what we can imagine. Why not rely on one as your home’s health care manager to automate and simplify the process of refilling your prescriptions or offer recurring reminders to take medications using only your voice? No apps, no excessive visits to the pharmacy—just saying, “Manage my medication.”

Voice technology and supported devices present a unique opportunity to connect patients with their local pharmacies and engage them in unprecedented ways. By integrating voice technology with pharmacy operations, patients can manage medications with simple voice commands. The pharmacy space has been largely overlooked in conversations around innovation. With advancements in app technology and direct-to-consumer prescription and even drone delivery from digital start-ups and tech giants, voice technology provides a way to keep up.

Projected to become larger than both websites and mobile apps, there were 113 million voice device users in 2018 and this audience is anticipated to grow to 275 million households within the next five years. In order to stay innovative in the evolving health care ecosystem, we need to meet the consumer where they are—whether that’s on the go via their smartphones or talking hands-free to their in-home assistants.

Additionally, voice technology provides an opportunity to solve a crisis in the health care delivery system, $300 billion dollars in health care costs are due to patient nonadherence to medication regimens. We anticipate that voice technology will enhance pharmacy’s role in improving medication access and reducing waste are key drivers in our belief that the use of voice technology is an essential component to the future of consumer value from the pharmacy. Elevating voice services has the potential to dramatically improve outcomes and lower costs.

A new report finds that patients expect digital capabilities from their health care provider and consumers who can request prescription refills electronically are 77% more likely to choose medical providers who offer this service. Pharmacists, as they partner with companies like Omnicell, have an opportunity to effect major change in adherence rates by working with physicians to fill patient prescriptions with ease—no phone calls needed.

Voice technology also provides a greater sense of independence for aging populations. These voice assistants can help older adults manage their medications on their own, removing the need for a caregiver to pick up regular prescription refills and allowing them to spend more time providing direct care. In fact, 51.9% of consumers surveyed say they would like to employ voice assistants for health care purposes according to a recent Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report for Healthcare in 2019. In the same study, people surveyed between the ages 45-60 years old are the most enthusiastic about the use of voice assistants than any other age group.

To the same effect, the volume of medications and complexity of medication regimens increases as the population ages, making way for an increased likelihood of medication nonadherence. Allowing older adults to manage medications without lifting a finger has the potential to transform adherence rates in populations who need it most.

There is a great opportunity to give patients faster, simpler, and more convenient access to their medications based on communication preferences and to support their adherence to medication regimens, in turn, improving health outcomes overall. Health care consumers demand convenience and are prompting us as health care professionals to think beyond our traditional means of delivering care.

The use of this technology is just the beginning. We will continue to identify straightforward and easy-to-use pharmacy tasks that voice-powered devices can perform in the real world. In sum, keeping the patient at the center of care and streamlining pharmacy workflow is at the center of everything we do.

                                                      

About Danny Sanchez:
At Omnicell, Mr Sanchez applies innovative strategies to drive performance and growth for the company. He has a record of expanding companies organically and through strategic acquisitions in highly regulated, hyper-competitive health care, automation, and medical software industries. He is known for identifying market trends, launching new products, delivering outstanding customer service, and generating operating efficiencies.

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