Engineering health: ADV-Care Pharmacy’s technological excellence for improved patient care

Amr Bannis on leading the charge in virtual pharmacy and healthcare services

Engineering health: ADV-Care Pharmacy’s technological excellence for improved patient care

This article was produced in partnership with ADV-Care Pharmacy.

In an era where technology and healthcare are increasingly intertwined, ADV-Care Pharmacy Inc. stands out as a pioneer in virtual pharmacy services. Founded over two decades ago, ADV-Care Pharmacy, along with its affiliated companies, has been at the forefront of transforming pharmacy services through technological innovation and efficiency optimization.

Recognizing the potential of emerging internet technologies, they aimed to revolutionize the pharmacy industry by offering patients a convenient and secure way to conveniently order and receive medications.

ADV-Care Pharmacy was established in 2000, embracing the concept of a virtual pharmacy long before it became a norm. Amr Bannis, P.Eng. CTO of ADV Pharmacy, explains that the strength of their service lies in their setup – a combination of a virtual pharmacy, a website, and an engineering arm for development. Unlike typical community pharmacies, ADV-Care Pharmacy is structured for mail order and virtual services, enabling them to offer cost-effective, top-notch technology, and privacy-focused healthcare complied solutions.

Operational efficiency and innovation

One of the most striking aspects of ADV-Care Pharmacy is its operational efficiency. With the capability to handle 2000 to 3000 prescriptions daily with just three pharmacists, the company sets a high standard in the industry. This efficiency is achieved through a fully optimized virtual process, minimizing manual interventions except for essential pharmacist oversight.

A unique service ADV-Care Pharmacy offers is the delivery of medications in sealed manufacturing containers, ensuring no cross-contamination, miscounts, or errors. This process, controlled by barcode systems, provides patients with the utmost confidence in the safety and accuracy of their medication.

When asked what led Bannis down this road, diverting from his original field of focus in industrial engineering, Bannis says, “The gap we identified was twofold. Firstly, about 70% of medications dispensed by pharmacies are for chronic conditions. Secondly, drugs are the second largest health care expense after hospitalization and a significant portion of employer and insurance costs. Recognizing these factors, it made sense to find ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs, benefiting everyone involved.

“As an engineer, I leveraged my expertise in optimizing large-scale plans to design our solutions. Since we offer free shipping, it's imperative to avoid shipping to incorrect addresses. These practical requirements necessitate thorough checks on our part. Additionally, the idea of using sealed medication containers, unlike others, ensures that when patients receive their medication, they have no doubts about its contents or expiry.”

Technological advancements and customer focus

Bannis highlights the revolutionary changes brought in with their mobile app in 2014, a time when such innovations were rare. The app features robust patient authentication and advanced functionalities like language translation, medically optimized for patient-pharmacist interactions. Using IBM impeded AI technology, it also allows doctors to generate medical reports effortlessly, improving efficiency in patient care.

Moreover, ADV-Care Pharmacy's approach to inventory management is equally innovative. They operate a predictive on a demand-based model, purchasing medications directly from manufacturers as needed. This strategy ensures fresher medications with longer expiry dates and reduces stocking expenses significantly.

Bannis also highlights, “Data security has never been a concern for us because we use IBM technology, which is not commonly employed by regular community pharmacies. It's the kind of technology used by major players like Shoppers Drug Mart and large financial institutions. This has been our approach from day one. Our data encryption is robust, featuring 256-bit encryption for both data in transit and at rest. This means that everything that is transferred is encrypted, and everything stored is also encrypted.”

Overcoming challenges and future outlook

Despite the technological advancements and efficient service model, gaining trust in the healthcare industry remains a challenge, as Amr notes. Building relationships with patients, especially new ones, and navigating regulatory landscapes are ongoing hurdles. However, their partnership with IBM and use of advanced encryption technologies for data security have positioned them as a trusted player in the industry.

"In healthcare, trust is fundamental. Existing customers might easily trust our services, but gaining the trust of new patients who have never heard of us is challenging. Word-of-mouth recommendations are incredibly valuable. In this context, doctors play a pivotal role. Patients usually follow their doctor's advice, which significantly influences their choices.

“However, in Canada, there's a challenge in the healthcare industry due to the close cooperation between clinics and pharmacies. This partnership often makes it difficult to break into the market. As a result of this tightly knit chain, the ultimate loser tends to be the end-user, often impacting their insurance benefits,” says Bannis.

Looking ahead, ADV-Care Pharmacy is excited about the potential of AI and generative AI in healthcare. They are pioneering services like virtual medical second opinions and are poised to leverage AI for enhancing healthcare delivery further.

“I believe I'm not alone in thinking that healthcare needs significant changes. Everyday, there's news highlighting the issues in healthcare services. Our aim is to leverage technology to address these problems. However, an important aspect of this endeavor is compliance with regulatory standards. Thanks to our 24 years of experience, we've managed to navigate these regulations successfully. For newcomers, understanding and complying with these complex requirements is challenging. It's a difficult task, and our experience in this area is invaluable," Bannis maintains.

As healthcare continues to evolve, companies like ADV-Care Pharmacy will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in driving positive change and delivering enhanced patient care.