By Julie Cohen

The technology is out there to help you deliver and document superior care to both patients and payers. Pharmacist Stephanie Sinden reviews–and is inspired by–the most promising software packages

Pharmaceutical care. We might understand the concept, but how do we actually do it?

A computer system is key. While it will not magically transform a traditional pharmacy practice into a pharmaceutical care practice, the right computer system can provide the tools needed to integrate “PC” processes into your daily prescription-filling routine. For instance, it can direct you to ask certain questions and gather pertinent data. And it can provide a standard interview format, which is required to ensure a consistent standard of care.

Over the past few months I have reviewed four “integrated PC” programs, which I have so defined because they all provide the necessary ‘fill-and-bill’ functions as well as PC processes. They all require the same basic hardware: the faster the CPU, the better. To make full use of the systems, a laser printer is definitely recommended.

The software programs cost between $3,000 and $5,000*–a relatively nominal sum when you consider the tremendously positive payback, both in terms of patient outcomes and future revenue. It has been estimated that one-third of your patients are in need of pharmaceutical care. Unfortunately, they do not realize its value or even know that it’s something that you can do. The right computer system, used to its full potential, can be an invaluable tool.

While I don’t have the time or space to discuss pharmaceutical care per se, I urge you to keep its definition in mind as you read this article. Better yet, make the time to explore that definition–and perhaps refine it so that it meets the needs of your particular practice. Only then will you be able to make full use of the supporting computer software.

The Internet is a valuable source of information for PC. Try a simple “Yahoo” search on “pharmaceutical care”. Other resources include:


  • Bill Felkey, associate professor of pharmacy care systems at the Auburn, Alabama School of Pharmacy, has been involved with computers and PC for a number of years (web site:
  • An article entitled, “The Process of Pharmaceutical Care,” can be found at
    download/icicare.htm. It offers checklists for both patient counselling as well as technological support.
  • The Journal of Pharmaceutical Care, published by the School of Pharmacy of Northeast Louisiana, is an electronic journal devoted to PC (
  • As well, the APhA Guide to Drug Treatment Protocols: A Resource for Creating and Using Disease Specific Pathways can assist you in drug therapy management. More than 40 protocols cover a variety of disease states for adults and children.
  • Note: These fees may or may not include training and conversion costs.