HealthPRO Canada News

March 19, 2024

Revolutionizing Hospital Pharmacy: Member Perspective on Tech Integration & Future Trends

Member Spotlight

HealthPRO Canada members
Tessa Valg - Regional Manager at Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services in BC and Albert Karas, Program Director, Pharmacy Services, Humber River Health - share their thoughts on trends for the future of hospital pharmacy and how tech has transformed the efficiency and accuracy of their facilities. 

How has integrating tech made your pharmacy operations more efficient and accurate?  

Tessa: Our Production Centres are responsible for packaging and delivering medications across four health authorities, and as a result one of our key principles is efficiency. We want to maximize the use of our equipment and technology. Through this approach we are able to deliver services that are not only accurate by also timely and cost-effective. Staying on top of the technology as it relates to our goals is crucial to ensure we continue to advance and adapt to maintain the standards we have set within our operations. This may be through the different types of packaging and verification systems, or the latest in robotics, inventory, and RFID technology. The landscape is constantly evolving, and we need to keep up to date with that pace of change. 

Albert: As North America’s first digital hospital, the utilization of automation and digital technologies has transformed our pharmacy operations by streamlining workflows, reducing manual errors, and improving overall operational efficiency. Other benefits include superior level of services at the point of care, staff redeployment to patient-facing tasks, decreased manual tasks, practicing to full scopes of practice and ultimately better job satisfaction.  

What trends do you see in the future of hospital pharmacy when it comes to innovation and technology?   

Tessa: Since 2016, we've been on a journey with all our sites, diving deep into the realm of closed-loop medication management systems. It's been quite the ride, and we're still expanding as more sites jump on board. HealthPRO Canada has been our trusted partner, advocating for us among the supplier community toward providing ready-to-use products with scannable barcodes. But what's really fascinating is how the entire country is exploring the potential centralization of some production-like activities. We're all on the lookout for the best technology to fit the unique needs of our clients' distribution systems. With a nationwide network behind us, navigating this niche territory becomes a whole lot smoother. 

Albert: Not only could we see further automation and robotic innovations, but the entry of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially natural language understanding and natural language processing.  We may even see AI technology tools seamlessly integrating electronic health record data with clinical decision support algorithms, automating drug-dosing adjustments like never before. These are all exciting possibilities. 

As March is Pharmacy Appreciation Month, what is one piece of advice you would share with someone preparing to become a hospital pharmacist or pharmacy technician? 

Tessa: One thing about hospital pharmacy is the variety of career options. When many of us come into the role, the focus and aspiration is in the clinical setting, but what many people may not know is just how many other options exist. Whether you have an interest in quality improvement, clinical studies, IT, medication safety, mentoring or teaching, project management, or process improvement – there are so many different career paths available in pharmacy.  

Albert: Embrace change and adopt a nimble mindset as everything including hospital pharmacy is evolving. Recognize the pivotal role pharmacy professionals play in patient care, with expanding responsibilities to meet healthcare needs.  

HRH Pharmacy Team Member

Lower Mainland

About Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services  

Lower Mainland Pharmacy Services delivers integrated pharmaceutical care, services, and programs across Fraser Health (FH), Providence Health Care (PHC), Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). Their two production centres: Vancouver Pharmacy Production Centre (VPPC) and the Pharmacy Drug Distribution Centre (PDDC) provide daily services to approximately 9,000 patients across the four health authorities.  

Humber Logo

About Humber River Health 

As North America’s first fully digital hospital and one of Canada’s largest regional acute care hospitals, Humber River serves a community of 850,000 residents in North West Toronto.  At Humber River Health, they use a custom combination of technology and clinical expertise to rebuild elements of care. They make technology work for staff and physicians; giving them more time to spend with patients, to eliminate inefficiencies, and to reduce the chance of errors.

Humber River Health Pharmacy Services Team
Humber River Health Pharmacy Services Team