By: SPA Executive Vice President Steven Webbenhurst

As 2018 came to a close, and 2019 approached, I was reminded of Y2K. For those of you in your 20’s, Y2K was the term that was used to refer to the year 2000 in the preceding decade. Although computers had become common in the ‘90’s, most computer systems hadn’t been programmed to deal with the change in the year format, from 19XX to 20XX. Although a lot of work was done to ensure programs wouldn’t crash as 1999 rolled over into 2000, many people were skeptical. We weren’t sure if bank ATMs would function, gas pumps would work, if we’d have power and water, and if businesses would be able to operate. Our Y2K fears proved to be unfounded.

Many things in our lives have changed in the last 19 years. First thing that comes to mind is the way cell phones have changed over those years. From simple phones with keypads similar to traditional phones, to ones that connect us to the internet, control our TVs and lights, and our course, allow us to text friends. Another thing that has changed is the way we practice pharmacy.

One thing that stands out is how pharmacy and pharmacists have impacted the health of our patients by providing immunizations. Pharmacists have always been famous for being accessible their patients, and that made us perfectly aligned to provide immunizations. Last year, roughly 30 million flu shots alone were administered by pharmacists/interns. And Idaho has begun a program allowing trained technicians to administer immunizations under the supervision of a pharmacist.

There are many other areas in pharmacy that have changed as well. The role of technicians continues to expand and they have become an integral part in the operation of pharmacy. Medication therapy management (MTM) has become more commonplace. Collaborative practice agreements have allowed pharmacists to pursue areas that interest them, from health testing to prescribing select medications and beyond. These are just a few of the changes I’ve seen.

On a day-to-day basis, it seems like pharmacy remains relatively stagnant. But looking back to a prior time (like Y2K), reminds us of how far pharmacy has come.

My two questions for you are, “Where do you envision pharmacy 19 years from now? Where can we take it?”

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