What does the future of Pharmacy look like?

By Casra Momtahen, 2nd year M(Pharm) student

As a pharmacy student, it’s always inspiring to hear of the impact pharmacists can have on UK healthcare. Most notably so from the Chief Medical Officer for England, Professor Dame Sally Davies, who expressed how proud she was of the teamwork between herself and Pharmacists during her time as a practicing physician. Further advocating how our NHS is a team, in which we are all key players. The future of life sciences and healthcare panel was among various presentations exhibiting the latest advancements in pharmaceutical and healthcare research at the RPS Science and Research Summit 2019. The main talking points of the conference were Diabetes, antimicrobial resistance, and the use of digital technology to improve Healthcare provision.

It is estimated that 5 million people will have diabetes by 2025 in the UK, emphasised by Professor Gino Martini, Chief Scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. His personal story about his father’s struggles with type 2 diabetes stressed some of the reasons why so many people go into healthcare. And to see what drives a valued member of the RPS is inspiring to say the least. And in the spirit of an ever-diversifying society, Professor Mahendra G. Patel highlighted the importance of tailored and personal healthcare in patients living with diabetes. For example, teaching pharmacists how to help Muslim patients manage their diabetes during the month of Ramadan.

“The Pharmacist’s role in antimicrobial stewardship is ever evolving” Professor Davies explained in her Keynote presentation. The Chief Medical Officer advocated the importance of looking beyond human antibiotic use, onto that of veterinary use also. Professor Davies’ also exhibited the work of the Fleming Fund, a foundation dedicated to promoting antimicrobial stewardship in low- and middle-income countries. On behalf of the fund, volunteer Pharmacists can be sent to various Commonwealth countries to promote antimicrobial stewardship, an inspiring example of how pharmacist’s potential for international influence.

In the spirit of the 21st century, Muhammed Hussain, senior clinical lead for NHS digital, highlighted the work being done looking at AI systems and other sophisticated technology to further benefit patients and healthcare professionals. For example, Mr Hussain presented one potential solution where summary care records can be monitored from the patient’s phone. This would allow the patient to be notified if their summary care records have been accessed and by whom. Mr Hussain explained how this can further put patients in control of their own healthcare. However, with every technological advancement, there are always data protection considerations, especially when healthcare and confidentiality is involved. On the theme of taking healthcare online, Dr Andy Blackwell, Chief Science Officer at Ieso Digital Health, presented an online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) system, where patients can undergo therapy through an online instant messaging platform. Dr Blackwell explained how this allows for easier monitoring and supervision of therapy sessions. The new platform also showed improvements in adherence, where in the modern world, for most it is easier to access an online platform than a psychotherapist’s office.

The undergraduate perspective of a science and research summit is a strange mixture of daunting and inspiring. It gives one a glance at the limitless nature of research, whilst at the same time the vastness of knowledge yet to be understood. On behalf of myself and the students who attended the conference, I would like to thank Professor Green for sponsoring our attendance.