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UK pharmacy chain Boots has announced a partnership with the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) to offer staff training on digitalisation.

Boots pharmacists will be provided with HIMSS virtual modules covering subjects including the benefits of digital healthcare for patients, how to quickly adopt digital solutions in a community pharmacy and the future of digital health.

The HIMSS modules will be available from June this year, with an ambition for 10,000 pharmacists to achieve HIMSS accreditation by September.

WHY IT MATTERS

Boots has stepped up its digital offering to support people at home, after facing a loss of £258 million in the year ending August 2020 due to the COVID crisis.

Since the pandemic, Boots has launched several digital platforms enabling customers to access pharmacy services remotely, including a video pharmacy consultation service for people with cancer and an online video consultation platform via the LIVI app to connect patients and pharmacists.

More recently the chain teamed with Deliveroo for a pilot scheme allowing customers to order products such as medication and vitamins via a home delivery app.

The HIMSS accreditation will put Boots will among the first community pharmacists in the UK to help influence the direction of digital healthcare.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Community pharmacies are now competing with digital services that can deliver prescriptions to patients at home.

One example is UK video-consultation platform, Push Doctor which partnered with independent chain, Well Pharmacy to launch a digital service last year. The pharmacy-first approach aims to direct patients with minor ailments towards a pharmacist, freeing up GP appointments.

ON THE RECORD

Rich Corbridge, VP and chief information officer, Boots UK and Ireland said: “Being able to collaborate with HIMSS to create new ways for pharmacists to have access to new learning is an incredible opportunity for all of the Boots organisation.

“Offering exciting learning opportunities for community pharmacists and healthcare workers to extend their knowledge about digital health and care and wellbeing allows them to offer more and more services to our patients in locations where they want to receive healthcare and wellness advice.

“The last two years has meant that access to digital healthcare has grown throughout the population, the collaboration with HIMSS will enable all of our amazing pharmacy team to have a level of knowledge about digital healthcare that will mean they will be able to offer new types of advice and guidance in every store every day.”

Armin Scheuer, executive director EMEA, HIMSS, said: “As digitization penetrates all areas of healthcare, workforce education becomes a necessity to drive change and ensure adoption of best practices. A digitally enabled pharmaceutical workforce is equipped with the knowledge and skills to confidently use digital health solutions for the benefit of their businesses and their customers. Together, HIMSS and Boots will provide workforce education that prepares pharmacists to succeed in the digital future.”

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