UK patients could benefit from expanding the remit of hospital pharmacies so that they offer services such as education, consulting and tracking, suggests a leading health expert at Belgium-based Vlerick Business School.

According to Professor Brecht Cardoen, extending the role of hospital pharmacy is crucial and would "positively impact patient care". 

In the hospital pharmacy of tomorrow, the entire care process should track the patient to ensure that they invest "as little effort as possible" in receiving quality treatment, he says, but argues that because they also want to play a more active role in their care, patients should be involved as "co-producing and co-creating customers".

Advice and monitoring for seamless care

In addition to core activities, hospital pharmacies should advise on the choice of medication therapy, provide information, and help monitor the pharmaceutical care of individual patients, as well as offer guidance in the transition from primary to secondary, to tertiary care.

Prof Brecht also notes that, while multidisciplinary collaboration is indeed a way to secure clinical excellence, it is not enough in itself. "The hospital pharmacy of the future will also need to invest in continuous knowledge development, look for the causes of problems as a ‘learning organisation’, and will need to integrate the acquired insights into its service provision". 

However, the report outlines a number of challenges that hospital pharmacies will have to overcome before completing this transition, such as funding and legislation, and issues surrounding safety and technology.

'Problems to solve'

"Looking at pharmacology at it is today, there are a lot of problems to solve - this could be the reason why the benefits of extending the role of the hospital pharmacy cannot be fully understood," says Prof Brecht. 

"It is crucial that all the stakeholders realise how important the hospital pharmacy is and what a great role it can play in patient care, especially with the ageing population and increasing patient demands from their caretakers," he stressed.

Last month a robust set of hospital pharmacy practice standards for Europe was agreed at an international Summit in Brussels, in the hope of ensuring safe, effective and optimal use of medicines in collaboration with multi-disciplinary teams across all of the region's healthcare systems.