Most Influential People in Pharmacy: Paul Naismith

Paul Naismith of FRED IT.

We speak to the next person in our 14 most influential people in pharmacy campaign, as voted by you

Paul Naismith
Founder & CEO, FRED IT Group
Director of the PharmX EDI joint venture
Chair, PDL (Pharmaceutical Defence Ltd) – owner of the AJP
Pharmacy owner

One of the real innovators of pharmacy, and a pioneer of IT in the sector, Paul Naismith continues to lead the profession’s push into the electronic future.

He spoke to AJP after being selected by our readers as one of the 14 Most Influential People in Pharmacy

Q: What are all your current roles?

My day job is Chief Executive Officer of Fred IT Group which includes Fred, MedView and eRx Script Exchange. I am a director of the PharmX EDI joint venture, and I remain a partner in my community pharmacy in Melbourne.

I am also very proud to Chair the board of 107-year-old Pharmaceutical Defence Limited (PDL) which continues to provide excellent professional indemnity cover to it’s 23,500 pharmacist members.

Finally, I am the Chairman of the Australian Pharmaceutical Publishing Company (APPCo) which publishes the market leading Australian Journal of Pharmacy (AJP).

Q: Where do you see pharmacy going in five years or where would you like to see pharmacy in five years?

I see pharmacy continuing its vital medication supply role but being undertaken in a new friction-less way for the patient. Any efficiencies gained should  be invested back into the provision of amazing professional services patients want delivered by their local pharmacy.

The imminent introduction of true electronic paperless prescriptions will be the biggest change pharmacy has seen since the introduction of computers in the 1980s. For doctors, pharmacists and patients, the medication supply function will change for the better. Electronic scripts will reduce the many inefficiencies and frustrations caused by an antiquated paper system designed fifty years ago in pre-cloud computing age.

It may take five years for those benefits to be significantly realised but electronic scripts will allow pharmacists to spend more time analysing more complete and timely medication data, improving medication safety and spending more time with patients on higher value professional services.

Q: Do you think the pharmacy industry/profession is on the right track, or is there more work that needs to be done?

Certainly, I see many positive signs for enhanced professional services with all the pharmacy stakeholders working together in improving the scope of services provided to patients by pharmacists.

The vaccination success proves the model can work when you provide what a patient wants, when they want it and how they want it. The stakeholders are also working well together on the many technical projects needed to improve patient care. Whether that be SafeScript/National Data Exchange for Real Time Prescription Monitoring or paperless electronic scripts, the signs are all very positive and things are now moving quickly.

An increased focus on the implementation, education and change management needed to succeed in such large transformational projects is now required.

Q: How do you see yourself as influencing the profession?

With my varying roles I am privileged to deal with our industry’s many stakeholders on a regular basis. The doctors, the pharmacists, the political organisations who represent them, the industry representatives, the various governments, the tech providers and the patients we all serve.

I see my biggest influence in bringing the right people together at the right time to get difficult problems resolved. The deadly issue of accidental prescription drug overdoses is an example. While the technology is my lead in, and I am proud of that, the main game is about influencing the various stakeholders to keep going and to push on until the shocking death toll due to medication safety issues is reduced. In this aim I am very well supported across the industry and I will not give up.

I am also pushing for medication service coordination to reduce high patient risks especially in transition of care. Modern technologies can prevent fragmentation of care with shared medication platforms in transition of care and as the traditional roles of health providers change and patients move to where they prefer the service to be delivered. We must capture and share all interactions with patients to reduce risk and improve health outcomes.

Q: What would you like your primary influence on pharmacy to be?

While I truly value my work with PDL and AJP in managing pharmacist risks and providing information for better practice, I see my major role in technology leadership.

I had one aim when I founded Fred 27 years ago, to use technology to make the life of the pharmacist easier and medication safer for patients. Modern cloud computing and all it brings such as big data sharing, artificial intelligence and mobility of device are increasingly helping me achieve these objectives. So called “digital disruption” assumes winners and losers.

In healthcare we can’t afford this type of inequality.  I see my primary role to provide the trust, confidence and guidance to our industry to sensibly apply these transformation technologies in a positive way for all.


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