Why isn’t pharmacy more excited about wearable tech?

The pharmacy industry in Australia is going through some significant challenges as a consequence of changes to government remuneration. This is compounded by a broader downturn in the industry’s retail sector over the past few years.

In the same way that many other industries have had to reinvent their long-held business models to survive, so pharmacists need to find a new pathway forward.

With the “Quantified Self” movement identified as one of the biggest emerging trends of the next 20 years, I don’t understand why pharmacists are not rushing to better understand the concept and include it in their forward business planning.

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It is well acknowledged that Australia’s population is ageing and creating an increased demand for healthcare services, in particular in the area of chronic disease management. The new ageing consumer expects to be an active participant in the design and delivery of their healthcare services, and, in my opinion, wearable technology provides a great enabling tool. One that pharmacy can play a big role in delivering effectively.

Being able to track and monitor your own metrics using a variety of wearable devices provides an ideal opportunity for the creation, monitoring and ongoing management of truly personalised health plans. This is a model that consumers are much more likely to engage in and value than the generic, “one size fits all” approach that has been all too common to date.

Pharmacists are the most readily accessible of Australia’s health professionals, with consumers able to walk in off the street without an appointment at least 6, and often 7, days a week, over extended hours. Combine that with a wide availability of highly-trained, technology-proficient young graduates looking for ways they can actively make a difference in patient health outcomes, and it’s hard to imagine there’s no business opportunity in constructing a pharmacy service using wearable tech. A service that assists consumers not only in selecting the right devices to monitor the metrics that are most relevant to their health conditions, but provides help to interpret results and supports behavioural changes, would be of great benefit to any pharmacy business.

Instead, the industry largely seems happy to leave wearable tech to other retailers who have no health training or health professionals on their teams.

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It’s certainly not the view that our business is taking of the wearable tech opportunity.

 

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