Although I have not posted about Pharmacists and the use of the Internet and I have not found many research on this topic, it’s clear that these health professionals are playing an important role in healthcare. Therefore, they also have a role in relationship with the Internet, specially Community Pharmacists, who are probably the most accessible health professional and are daily dealing with all kind of patients. Health promotion, Health prevention, Health Literacy, patients’ education,… are just some of the fields where Community Pharmacists can encourage patients to become more engaged in their own health care or their relatives health care.
Following our analysis of the integration of Information and Communication Technologies into medical practice and into nursing practice, we have analysed Community Pharmacists. The specific objectives were to develop and characterise a typology of CPs based on their ICT utilization and to identify factors that can enhance or inhibit the use of these technologies.
Cluster one consists of CPs whose information needs place a greater emphasis on international and national information; on activities related to professional education and information from the Pharmacists Association as well as workplace and pharmaceutical industry. This group also emphasizes ICT use for activities such as information search, communication and the dissemination of information as well as for corporate activities. This group is thus referred to as representing ‘integrated Community Pharmacist’. The label is used descriptively in order to capture the sense that for this group ICT are a mundane and valued resource. Cluster two is characterised by notably different features to the previous one. The second profile represents those CPs placing less emphasis on ICT so are consequently labelled as ‘non-integrated Community Pharmacist‘.
Statistical analysis of the relationship between these profiles revealed that ‘integrated Community Pharmacist‘ are more likely to start using Internet at an earlier stage, to consider it very useful, to use this tool on a daily basis, to have a blog and to consider Internet health information very relevant. No significance association related to age, gender or pharmacy ownership was found.
Further analysis of the relationship between the two profiles and the pharmacist-patient relationship resulted in ‘integrated Community Pharmacist‘ being more likely than ‘non-integrated Community Pharmacist‘ to recommend that patients go online to find health information and to have more patients that discuss such information during a consultation. ‘Integrated Community Pharmacist‘ are also more likely to believe that patients going online for health information improve their autonomy and their quality of life as well as improving both the health professional/patient relationship and the pharmacist/patient relationship. Finally, ‘integrated Community Pharmacist‘ are more likely to be found on the Internet searching or providing advice on professional forums. Additionally, drivers for ICT use such as improving communication with other health care professionals and improvement in work productivity are likely to have a higher impact on ‘integrated Community Pharmacist‘ while barriers such as lack of training or lack of time are less likely to challenge them.
It was observed that factors related with ‘intensive use of Internet’ (every day), ’emphasis on Internet for communication and dissemination’ as well as information needs from the Pharmacists Professional Association play a positive and significant role in the probability of being an ‘integrated Community Pharmacist‘. Recommending patients going on-line for health information and discussing or sharing patients’ Internet health information findings also have a positive and significant role.
The research reported is part of a broad study supported by Departament de Salut de la Generalitat de Catalunya (Catalonia Health Department) and directed by Prof. Manuel Castells. Survey launched is a result of collaboration between the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute at Open University of Catalonia and the Pharmacist Association of Barcelona (Col.legi Oficial de Farmacèutics de Barcelona).