Future pharmacy as a plug-and-play ecosystem

Name: Future pharmacy as a plug-and-play ecosystem

Funding entity: FEDER

Global budget: 1.153.793,15€

Financing allocated to CIICESI/ESTG/IPP: 201.962,30€

Entities involved: Instituto Politécnico do Porto, Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto, Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Glintt HS, HES-SO Valais-Wallis

Researchers from CIICESI: Ricardo Jorge Santos, António Alberto Pinto


Pharmacies are important structures of the health systems and can offer health services in a capillary way due to their wide diffusion. Qualified health professionals such as pharmacists, besides dispensing medicinal products, can give advice to patients on drug assumption regimens and can also offer pharmacovigilance services.

The close contact between pharmacies and the population is a great opportunity for public health as they have a crucial role as first level health care points. This can be a major advantage in view of the current health problems related to COVID-19 pandemic and future outbreaks, the high percentage of older population and of chronic diseases and the increasing healthcare costs at unsustainable pace. All these issues ask for a higher and quicker response capacity from health systems and can be effectively supported by the community pharmacies.

Application of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the health sector can open new perspectives in the delivery of health services and can contribute to limit the problem of decreased availability of health professionals. One opportunity can be represented by telepharmacy services.

Telepharmacy is defined as “the provision of pharmacist care by registered pharmacists and pharmacies through the use of telecommunications to patients located at a distance”. It is an instance of the wider phenomenon of telemedicine, as implemented in the field of pharmacy. Telepharmacy services include drug therapy monitoring, patient counselling and monitoring, prior authorization and refill authorization for prescribed medication and remote dispensing of medications.

ForPharmacy project will research and develop telepharmacy solutions with particular attention to those in direct connection to health, pharmacovigilance, therapeutic adhesion, drug-supplement interactions and social care services that will be radically different to the conventional pharmaceutical services already available. This will allow to identify new areas in which telepharmacy could increase availability of health services and overcome unsolved limitations of telepharmacy practice.

The main goal of the project is to expand access to pharmacy care, which can lower costs and improve patient safety through better patient counselling, drug administration monitoring, and compliance monitoring. This expansion will be done via digitalization of community pharmacies services in connection and direct articulation between different healthcare professionals.