The computerisation of community pharmacy
Computers have, over the past 10 to 15 years, become an integral part of many activities carried out by British community pharmacists. This thesis employs quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore the use of computers and other forms of information technology (IT) in a number of these activities. Mail questionnaires were used to estimate the level of IT use among British community pharmacists in 1989 and 1990. Comparison of the results suggests that the percentage of community pharmacists using computers and other forms of IT is increasing, and that the range of applications to which pharmacy computers are put is expanding. The use of an electronic, on-line information service, PINS, by community pharmacists was investigated using mail questionnaires. The majority of community pharmacists who subscribed to the service, and who responded to the questionnaire, claimed to use PINS less than they had expected to. In addition, most did not find it user-friendly. A computer program to aid pharmacists when responding to their patients' symptoms was investigated using interviews and direct observation. The aid was not found to help pharmacists in responding to patients' symptoms because of impracticalities involved in its operation. Use of the same computer program by members of the public without the involvement of a pharmacist was also studied. In this setting, the program was favourably accepted by the majority of those who used it. Provision of computer generated information leaflets from pharmacies was investigated using mail questionnaires and interviews. The leaflets were found to be popular with the majority of recipients interviewed. Since starting to give out the leaflets, 27 out of 55 pharmacists who responded to the questionnaire had experienced an increase in the numbers of prescriptions they dispensed. 46 had experienced an increase in the number of patient enquiries they received.