Pharmacy automation to manage demographic tsunami

Demographic tsunami

The growth rate of Australia and New Zealand’s population aged over 60 is set to explode by 92.6% between 2019 and 2050, significantly higher than North America & Europe.1 KPMG’s Chief Economist, Brendan Rynne, speaks of a ‘demographic tsunami’, that from the age of 65, the cost of an Australian individual will ‘increase from around $20,000 per annum to (around) $80,000 towards the end of life … (including) healthcare and aged care costs …’2

In recent decades there has been a strong trend of older people choosing to live independently, from around 24% in 1990 to 37% in 2010.3 Shocking television footage aired in 2018 revealed how some elderly Australians in aged care were being badly mistreated. This has prompted many to rethink their future healthcare arrangements, with more Australians likely to choose independent living.

Polypharmacy growing in Australia

Australian Research 2017 shows those aged 70 or over, on more than 5 daily medications, comprised at least 36.1% of the Australian population. The prevalence of polypharmacy among older Australians is relatively high, affecting almost one million people, and the number is increasing as the population ages.4 This estimate is low as it doesn’t account for private prescriptions, or over-the-counter and complementary medicines.

The researchers concluded: ‘Polypharmacy can be appropriate, but this needs to be balanced against the risk that it may contribute to adverse health outcomes in older people.’

Polypharmacy patients have complex medication regimes they must adhere to. There are around 230,000 hospital admissions in Australia each year due to medication errors.5 Monash University’s Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Department says adherence to medicines for chronic conditions stands on average at 50%.6 A 2018 Australian Patients Association survey revealed that ‘half of respondents admitted to not completing their prescription as directed by their health professional …’7 Medication blister packs can help patients take the right dose at the right time.

Future proofing pharmacy

According to a recent independent pharmacy operations report8 by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, ‘Industry sales during 2007–2017 have grown at only 1.94% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) … while rising expenses of 4.32% CAGR per annum have exert(ed) downward pressure on the viability of the industry.’

It says pharmacies must transform to community health hubs: ‘Staff need to be re-deployed from more menial tasks, such as packing, to investing time consulting with patients. This engagement builds loyalty … as the patients age, many becoming reliant on vitamins and medications to help maintain their quality of life …’

NSW Pharmacist Ziad Sultan, owner of Bellambi Pharmacy, says he’s surprised how some of his peers ‘don’t blink an eye in spending $100,000 on a BMW, yet procrastinate when it comes to investing in automation and software in their business’.

‘Since we invested in Alpaca and myPak software, our return on investment will come in less than three years … I’ll buy the BMW then!’9

Automation study reveals growth pathway10

In 2018, Alpaca automation tests in NZ pharmacies showed average growth in pack numbers was 37%. Pharmacies packing 200 packs per week saved over $30,000 per annum. Most found the DAA workflow faster, easier, more accurate and efficient.

myPak Solutions supports pharmacists

myPak Solutions is a leading Australian end-to-end DAA solution for medication management. Its cutting-edge software, consumable blister packs and automation products provide pharmacy the tools it needs for the Guild’s CP2025’s key growth pathways of medication management, digital enablement, operational efficiencies and automation.

myPak Solutions drives operational efficiencies through digital enablement and automation with QCPP and 6CPA compliant consumable packs. myPak Software integrates with all major dispense systems. Alpaca Automation is powered by the world’s leading robotic technology from Japan.

First Published in ITK , Oct – Nov 2019

References 1- 10 available on request. Please contact us here.

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