Artificial Intelligence in Pharmacy

Emily Torgerson  •   July 7, 2021

When you hear the words “artificial intelligence (AI),” most people think of Steven Spielberg’s science fiction film of the same name about the first robot child to harbor true emotions. However, in recent years, it is difficult to discuss the future of the pharmaceutical industry without mentioning AI. The industry has been facing challenges as of late that affect providers, payors, and patients, and AI has shown promise in helping to address these obstacles.

Medication Shortages

The U.S. has been in a drug shortage crisis for several years now, and a recent analysis by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration proves this issue is not going away. Drug shortages, especially of specialty drugs or medications for chronic or life-threatening illnesses, may have a severe impact on patients’ well-being. To manage a drug shortage, it is crucial for the pharmaceutical supply chain to have a better handle on the supply-and-demand forecast. This is where AI comes in. Drug companies can utilize AI to share data signals with suppliers of pharmaceutical materials as well as health care systems and distribution partners. This can help analyze trends in inventory management from manufacturer to patient use, which may help predict drug shortages before they occur.

Opioid Epidemic

It is no secret the U.S. has been embattled in an opioid crisis since the 1990s and is one of the most devastating issues currently facing the pharmaceutical industry. A major component of this is opioid theft from medical workers in health care settings, with one in 10 physicians or nurses addicted to controlled substances.1 AI technology provides deeper insight into prescribing habits and provider behaviors, making it easier to catch suspicious activities regarding opioid management. Without the use of AI, an audit of only five percent of controlled substance administrations could take several hours. AI-backed software systems can provide a 100 percent audit of controlled substance administration in less time than a five percent manual audit.2

Chronic Disease Management

Chronic diseases (heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc.) are the leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., with six out of ten Americans affected by a form of the illness.3 Global drug development and pharmaceutical companies are expected to invest more in AI to facilitate the research and discovery of chronic diseases and terminal illnesses. The technology will be used to better manage chronic diseases, decrease operational costs, and most importantly, improve patients’ health.

Look to the Future

Although some remain skeptical of AI, with reports of the technology replacing 85 million jobs globally by the year 2025, there is no denying that eventually, most health care companies will invest in the concept. Studies show that almost 62 percent of health care companies are already planning on investing in AI. By 2025, around 50 percent of health care companies are expected to fully utilize the benefits of AI and the future of pharmacy and health care will change (for the better) as we know it.4

 

  1. https://www.rfidjournal.com/diversion-detection-and-prevention-in-hospitals
  2. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/view/enter-ai-how-technology-is-changing-the-pharmaceutical-industry-for-the-better
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm
  4. http://bwhealthcareworld.businessworld.in/article/Artificial-Intelligence-And-Pharmacy-The-Future-/18-06-2021-393599/