Chicago, IL. – A recent study conducted by the Chicago Tribune revealed pharmacies missed dangerous drug interactions 52% of the time. Journalists tested 255 pharmacies in the greater Chicago area by paring risky drugs to determine if the pharmacy would send up red flags to the patient regarding adverse effects. The study relied on the expertise of pharmacy professors from the University of Arizona the University of Washington, and a Chicago area doctor, of whom chose to test five different drug pairs that were well known to pharmacists based on how long the drugs were on the market and the extreme severity if taken together. In a separate 2015, study conducted within Pediatric hospitals, 49% of pediatric hospitalizations were due to drug-drug interactions.

The Last Line of Defense

Several large well-known and small independent pharmacies were included in the study that lasted over a two year span. In Illinois specifically, pharmacists who find a drug paring with serious interactions must call the prescribing doctor to determine if they intended to order the two together and if there is an alternative available for the doctor’s patient. The pharmacy was considered a ‘pass’ if they attempted to contact the doctor or alerted the patient. Stapling the prescribing information sheet to the prescription bag is no longer reliable enough to inform the patient.

Here is a snapshot of how the pharmacies faired:

Dangerous Drug Interactions

Why This Matters

In an ever-changing world of digital algorithms and systems designed to think before we, the human, thinks, it is hard to image that this is even a challenge within any pharmacy. Consumer expectations have changed rapidly – we assume any computer will recognize any dangerous combination and alert us removing any reliability on human interaction. Why would our health be any different?

For example, our smartphones now automatically alert us to traffic jams, inclement weather and much more. Programs such as Turbo Tax automatically protect us from an audit by setting up our taxes in the best light – without us even thinking about the algorithm. Our expectations have changed and with automation being second hand, we don’t even realize they’ve changed.

We recently released our 2017 Trends Forecast that touches on several changing expectations and trends around artificial intelligence – not to replace the doctor or pharmacists’ expertise we’ve come to rely on – but rather to complement. Our ‘Dr Batman and AI Robin’ healthcare trend dissects this very thought:

In 2017, we’ll be watching new collaborations grow between humans and machines that let doctors rely on the information in computers like Watson and invest their time in engaging patients in new ways – inVentiv Health Communications & GSW Trends Forecast – 2016

As stated in the study, most of the companies listed vowed to make changes and increase patient safety. It comes down to speed versus safety – Consumers are expecting a speedy response more than ever – but at what cost? It will be interesting to see the opportunities we have as marketers and our responsibility to our healthcare system to not point the finger but take advantage of these ever evolving systems and bring new and life changing solutions to patients and health care providers.

About the Author:

As Strategist of Innovation, Drew is charged daily with championing innovative thinking and doing. Drew is part of a global team that leads new innovative ideas that attract different advocates among existing and potential brands that are shared across all agency partners. Drew is backed by over 16 years of brand, sales and marketing experience with Fortune 500 companies such as Progressive and Nationwide Insurance as well as Founder & President of his own healthcare insurance agency for 6 years. Most recently Drew was part of the agency team that launched Briviact for UCB, Foundation Medicine as well as key roles with Eli Lilly Oncology and Johnson & Johnson.