CEO and Managing Partner of Farmazorg, Philippe de Dijcker, is using his background in civil engineering to revolutionise the healthcare sector. Find out how here.
Based in Flanders, Belgium, Farmazorg is a pharmacy group that specialises in the delivery of customised medication to the healthcare sector, according to the principle of Automated Dose Dispensing (ADD). As well as streamlining the administration of medications, the company empowers patients and key personnel in the sector to have greater control over patient medicine.
In the healthcare sector there’s no room for error; just one simple mistake can have huge consequences. But even the best trained and most experienced people can still make mistakes, which is why Philippe de Dijcker of Farmazorg decided to come up with a new approach.
Philippe joined the company three years ago with a vision. That vision was to create a world in which healthcare is safer, better and more sustainable by harnessing the power of software and robotics. Philippe’s background as a civil engineer adds huge value to the proceedings, as his insights and engineering skills enable him to think differently to his peers in the healthcare sector, bringing a whole new dimension of innovation and problem solving.
We spoke to Philippe about his vision, the company’s successes to date and plans for the future.
Can you tell us a little about your vision for Farmazorg and how you set out to make healthcare safer and easier for consumers and healthcare professionals alike?
“My vision has always been that by largely making use of software and robotics the amount of errors can be strongly reduced, making healthcare more safe, better and more effective for the patient. Automating the full end to end process is an extremely lengthy process, semi-automation exists but as an in between solution with people being supported by software. What we have done is create a step by step automating process towards a near perfect delivery of medication for all our customers.”
Robotics have been used in the sector for a while now. How does the technology you use differ from what’s already out there?
“Yes, we make use of best practice robotics that are now commonly used in the sector. However these machines only provide an answer for part of the medication that is required for patients AND no answer to the set of prescribed medication that usually allows for optimization to the benefit of the patient. We use state of the art software that conducts automatic checks on a highly frequent basis of medication schemes instead of a pharmacist having to do their own checks. It also provides optimisations for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals so they can collaborate and share information on a regular basis, rather than having to wait for face to face meetings.”
Can you tell us about some of the issues being experienced in healthcare today, and why the industry has been slow to take up technological advancements so far?
“Reality is that Healthcare is not the most advanced when it comes down to software and automation.
Yes, there is a lot of software out there but key actors in the sector such as hospitals, doctors and nurses still largely work as independent software islands that are not aligned nor interconnected as we would all wish for. Still, as a pharmacy specalised in providing medication for patients in the healthcare sector we however typically operate at the interconnection point.
It can take a huge amount of effort and hard work to convince key actors to try something new and make them believers, particularly when healthcare professionals are already under pressure. People are by nature resistant to change and slow to take up and trust new technologies, even if it can make an important difference.
Changing mindsets and challenging decades of processes to make sure that in the end patient medicine is optimized and without errors at the moment of delivery can be frustrating at times.
How does your work benefit consumers and healthcare professionals?
“We are a trusted partner in medication management, which goes way beyond the mere supply of medicine. We ensure that all medication is delivered ready to use, saving the nursing staff a significant amount of time. By making use of advanced automation and printing medication schedules on a medication line, we also ensure a safe system in which the risk of medication errors is kept to a minimum. We work with each organisation differently to ensure that smart distribution systems are always tailored to internal operations, guiding employees and regularly delivering training on various topics.
In addition to pharmaceutical care, we actively screen individual medication schedules to help professionals keep bills as low as possible. This is particularly valuable for our care home partners, who can now guarantee high quality pharmaceutical care whilst managing a tight budget. We also take care of stock management, prescriptions and certificates management to empower nurses to spend less time on admin and more time delivering quality care.”
Can your products and services be used in connection with existing care packages?
“Yes. We work with customers to see what works best for them, adjusting our delivery method accordingly. We also link with all care packages and we have developed extensive knowledge in the use of these, which means there’s no need to completely change the way people work. In addition, we regularly evaluate our cooperation so that we can always guarantee the most efficient operation for our partners. ”
Many people in your field will have worked in healthcare all their careers. How does your background as a civil engineer translate into this area?
“Although people are often surprised when they hear I’m not a pharmacist by trade it’s actually one of our biggest strengths. My previous experience in software and automation allows me to apply deep insights and solve problems that are highly relevant to the healthcare sector, adding real value to an industry that’s under great pressure.”
Do you also make your knowhow available to patients that do not reside in care centres?
“We are indeed starting to focus as well on helping elderly people to remain at home as long as possible in an independent way. Patients or their family can visit our website and pass on a medication scheme or any prescription received from their doctor. Simply take a photo on a tablet or smartphone, scan and upload and we do the rest. Patients will then be provided with updates to let them know when their medication line is ready and they can collect from their choice of our pharmacies..”
What difference does Farmazorg represent to the market?
“Pharma care – which actually is the company name in English – makes the difference in the market with quality and thorough service. This means that nurses can concentrate as much as possible on their core tasks, while the medication process comes under the supervision and responsibility of the pharmacist. We ensure that all the medication is delivered ready-to-use, which saves the nursing staff a significant amount of time”.
Nearly 60 residential care centres in Flanders have already chosen Farmazorg as their partner, and the company is going from strength to strength. Find out more on the website, https://www.farmazorg.com/