Simi Pharmacy

AI and the future of the pharmacy

It’s only been four months since an AI algorithm designed to understand and generate human-like language burst across our computer screens but, in barely 120 days, Chat GPT has polarised opinions as few technologies have done before.  Even people who are not knee-jerk techno-reactionaries are saying “whoa … let’s think about this”.

SIMI PHARMACY certainly understands the hesitations and desire to keep a judicious hand on the sluice-gate lever. The world we live in is changing at such incredible speed that we hardly have time to learn  the correct spelling for some new development before it becomes obsolete.

But it’s not just today, or the past decade or even the past twenty years … the entire past century has been an era of rapid-fire transformation.  Take advances in pharmaceuticals.

If you are lucky enough to be nearing your 100th birthday, here’s a fact:  before you were born, insulin did not exist.  Diabetes was recognised but poorly understood and the only treatment was to keep diabetics on a near starvation diet. 

The first insulin was produced in 1923 and it used insulin taken from animals.  It would be another 55 years before synthetic human insulin was developed.  If you are 45 or older, synthetic human insulin did not exist before you were born.

If you are around 85, you were born before the era of sulfa drugs.  They were called “wonder drugs” because they cured incurable infections.  If you are around 75 years old, penicillin did not exist before you were born.  If you are around 70, then your parents would have taken you to the nearest school to get polio vaccine on a sugar cube.  Before that, hundreds of thousands of people succumbed to polio, or were paralysed for life.

You only have to be about 40 to look back to a time when there was no vaccine for HIV.  Even a kindergartener can play “old-timer” …”when I was a baby, millions of people died from covid; now I get a shot and stay healthy.”  Rapid change has been the defining feature of our lives for a very long time.

Artificial Intelligence” is the phrase that gets people excited now.  AI learns from data.  If a limited amount of data is fed, then AI learns slowly.  For rapid learning, AI requires Big Data. That’s where you and I come in.  Every digitally recorded bit of our lives is learning material for AI.

Mr X came out of a car accident with a broken collar bone.  The police filed a computerised report on the accident – what time, where, how, circumstances such as weather, etc, including previous accident/traffic violation history.  The hospital filed a computerised report on emergency room treatment and follow-up visits until the bone was healed.  The report included a digitalized X-ray and complete list of medications.  Two insurance companies filed reports:  the car insurance company computerized everything relevant to repair or sale of the car; the health insurance company computerised everything related to outlay for Mr X’s treatment.

Hundreds of thousands of similar reports are filed every year.  Integrating the maximum number of such reports results in Big Data.  Artificial Intelligence sets to work on Big Data and in much less time than an army of human analysts would take, it spins out conclusions, plus safety recommendations.

What about AI as doctor’s replacement or at least doctor’s assistant?  Nearly ten years ago Disney made a children’s film about a Japanese boy who builds and programs a nursebot named Baymax.  In 1980, Star Wars viewers were introduced to medical droids , the 2-1Bs.  As far back as 1934, sci-fi fans read the tale of a self-aware robot surgeon, hero of Harl Vincent’s story, “Rex”.  Writers have been imagining this for a long time.

A big part of the apprehension about AI comes from the way it often looks:  creepy.

Picture yourself rolling down the highway: car slowing down, speeding up, braking, passing, signalling. Your hands are NOT on the wheel. Nothing creepy to it, you’re just on auto-pilot.  It’s been a reality for years now.  It’s not quite full-fledged AI yet, but it won’t be long.

Now picture SIMI PHARMACY in the not-too-distant future.  Inventory, e-prescription translating, record management, workflow, ordering and many other processes are all performed by systems that use AI. 

So what has NOT been turned into a computer code and a collection of circuits by AI?


US   your SIMI PHARMACY staff.

We see routine work made quicker and easier by AI.  It will mean that  we will be able to personalize our service even more.

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