Controlled drugs are heavily regulated across the healthcare sector. They are drugs controlled under the Misuse of Drugs regulations 2001, that are open to abuse, misuse, illegal activity or can cause harm, i.e. morphine. Why is regulation important? To protect the general public from harm. One of the most important rules in any health professional’s code of ethics.
Even with registers logging the movements of a controlled drug, there are still instances of theft and misuse, as well as discrepancies due to human error. Most pharmacies use manual paper ledgers that record controlled drugs supply, delivery and destruction. Manual entry also causes delays in the dispensing process. Blockchain technology has the potential to transform this.
If we look at Blockchain as a solution, we can create a secure distributed ledger that allows witness ID to be recorded at the appropriate times. It allows real time access for authorized individuals to view controlled drugs transactions and interventions. Authorised individuals, such as the pharmacist, can update records with ease and staff members are able to perform other duties hence improving the pharmacy efficiency. Through this the pharmacist can focus on ensuring patient safety and quality of care. Blockchain offers the ability for IoT to be implemented to automate the recording of the register. If IoT is implemented, every time a drug is put into the safe it could be recorded onto the ledger. In some cases, where a pharmacy robot is already in place, perhaps in a hospital dispensary, this would be easy to implement. Blockchain allows Pharmacy to move forward in technology while still allowing room for improvement in the future.
This is an example of how Blockchain can be used to benefit the system. There are five key areas that would improve from adopting Blockchain technology:
By creating a digital ledger, using Blockchain technology, there is the ability to link the register to the future controlled drugs supply chain and streamline the whole procurement and delivery process, creating further benefits for this sector and transforming the way medicines are dispensed.
Leader of Industry for Government and Health Industries, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 7770 303 846
Partner, Health Industries, Procurement and Supply Chain Management, PwC United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)7736 350 447