The Pharmaceutical Care research group at the University of Basel aims to establish and consolidate "Pharmaceutical Care" as a core competence of pharmacists. "Pharmaceutical Care" is the contribution of pharmacy personnel to the care of people with the aim of optimizing the use of medicines and improving health outcomes.
More specifically, pharmacy personnel should be supported to assess complex medical histories and, based on these histories, select the appropriate drug and provide competent advice to the patient. To ensure quality and safety, pharmacy staff must always have up-to-date consultation and decision-making guidelines at hand, medical histories and drug dispensing must be documented and archived, and personnel and pharmacy students too should receive extensive and regular training, especially in more complex consultations, such as those on emergency contraception.
The domain-specific content—i.e. questions, anamnesis logic, decision-making aids and consulting content—is constantly evolving and is usually outdated shortly after publication. In order to easily capture and maintain these contents, our software manages them in a data-based and centralized manner. With conventional or alternative consulting and decision-making guides—for example, on paper, digitally as PDFs, or even as software tools—adapting and publishing new content and withdrawing content that has already been circulated is very time-consuming and difficult. For example, ensuring that the most current version of a PDF guide is distributed to each of the nearly 2,000 Swiss pharmacies is a logistical and organizational challenge. If domain-specific content is hardcoded as software code, it takes developers and the release of a new software version to update it.
Authentication according to industry standards, role-based access control and modern application programming interfaces (APIs) ensure that all data and content are protected from unauthorized access on the one hand, but on the other hand are available and retrievable for authorized users and third-party systems as needed. This allows, for example, that patients can answer a set of questions before the consultation in the pharmacy while other questions and information are only available to pharmacy personnel. Archived consultation data can also be retrieved at any time with an appropriate and valid credential. In the future, third-party systems, such as other pharmacy software, can also be connected via the API interface.
Currently, pharMe is used to support the consultation process for emergency contraception - the morning-after pill. The pharMe app offers added value for the three most important parties involved in the dispensing of emergency contraception: for the customer at risk of pregnancy, for the employee providing the advice, and for the pharmacy's management.
The customer at risk of pregnancy can discreetly communicate her request and the circumstances of her need for an emergency contraceptive to the pharmacy via app, without having to expose herself unnecessarily to other customers in the sales area of the pharmacy. In addition, valuable information about contraception in general, sexual health, or the mechanism of action of emergency contraception can be provided to the customer after the consultation.
The consulting employee can be guided through the counseling process by means of standard questions and phrases and by means of graphic information material. In order to promote an informed choice of a suitable emergency contraceptive, dynamic advantages and disadvantages of the various emergency contraception preparations are displayed based on the medical history questions. The pharMe app can also be used to simulate consultation cases and thus provide regular training for employees and pharmacy students.
For the managers of a pharmacy, pharMe essentially brings an increase in efficiency. Since customers already answer initial questions independently before the actual consultation in the pharmacy, consultations can be completed in less time. In addition, the consultations are automatically documented and archived. Data protection and traceability are thus guaranteed without any additional effort. In the future, it would be conceivable for pharmacies to record and model their own individual consultation processes.