How „Apothecary Intelligence“ could improve pharmaceutical care

Pharmaceutical Care in Digital Revolution: Insights Towards Circular Innovation

Everybody is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI): lauded as the “fourth industrial revolution”, feared as greatest threat of human civilizations, dismissed as a hype that will never deliver on its promises. Countless books and articles discuss the impact of “smart technology” on healthcare – and whether computer algorithms will take over the jobs of pharmacists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals.

Pharmacist and Author Claudia Rijcken, PhD

The new book by pharmacist Claudia Rijcken offers a refreshing new perspective: How to combine the possibilities of technology with the human factor in pharmaceutical care – replacing the A in AI with “Apothecary” instead of “Artificial”. After working in community pharmacy, Claudia gradually moved into a digital innovation role within Novartis and recently founded two companies around digital pharmaceutical care. In Pharmaceutical Care in Digital Revolution, the editor and co-authors Paul Iske, Rob Peters, Barry Meesters, Wilma Göttgens, and Paul Rulkens aim to pave the way to “circular pharmaceutical care”.

The book draws an analogy between the digital forests of opportunities and our biological forest ecosystems. The comparison between the destabilizing impact of human activity on earth’s ecosystems and the potentially disruptive impact of technology on current healthcare systems creates a sense of urgency: Now is the time to act, before the ecosystems – both biological and technological – spin out of control.  

blended care models: digital if possible, human where needed

The solution proposed by Claudia and her co-authors is to create “blended care models: digital if possible, human where needed”. This requires the evolution of pharmacy from a STEM to a STEM+ education by putting more emphasis on humanistic and social expertise and digital pharma literacy. At the same time, value-driven pharmaceutical care should be “digital by design” and built on a “Single Point of Truth (SPOT) platform for medication information, which should be the basis for all digital derivatives”.

Organized in four parts and with chapters titled “Oxygen required” or “Ethical practice: Fostering trees of life”, the book paints a landscape of current challenges, digital health innovations, conditions for enhancing pharmaceutical care through the use of digital innovation, and inspiration on the development of innovative digital pharmaceutical care pathways in daily practice. Designed as a practical resource, it not only explains how AI “can support trend analysis and decision making that augment pharmaceutical care expertise.” It also contains a rich diversity of links to additional resources, illustrative videos (through QR-codes), and tutorials on how to get started in practice.

Blending human and digital pharmaceutical care to establish apothecary intelligence.

In all this complexity, it would be easy to miss the woods for the trees, to use the metaphors of the book. Indeed, the book is not light reading for entertainment. It is not the kind of book to read in one go – it doesn’t have a captivating story that keeps the reader engaged. For people without a profound interest in the topic, I could imagine that a book like Deep Medicine by Eric Topol might be better suited to engage the reader. Pharmaceutical Care in Digital Revolution provides the in-depth resources to become active and can be used as a reference for the coming years. With helpful summaries and icons, the book makes sure to remind the reader of what pharmaceutical care in digital revolution is about:  “Blending human and digital pharmaceutical care to establish apothecary intelligence.”

Pharmaceutical Care in Digital Revolution is a must-read for pharmacists practicing in hospitals or community pharmacies, students, and health researchers active in the field of (clinical) pharmacy who are interested in the use of technology to advance our field.


eBook ISBN: 9780128176399
Paperback ISBN: 9780128176382
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 19th March 2019
Page Count: 363
Copyright: Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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