Pharmacy profession embraces the Facebook generation

9 Jul 2008

Medical software company Helix Health is to sponsor the development of an e-learning package, designed by a student based at the Royal College of Surgeons, which has the aim of boosting how pharmacists can use IT to improve patient outcomes.

The web-based, interactive e-learning package – triggered to reflect how students familiar with social networking sites like Facebook and Bebo use the web – will become an integral tool in the delivery of undergraduate courses to students as of the 2008-2009 academic year.

The e-learning tool will be developed by student Carmel Flynn under the supervision of Professor John Kelly.

The package will be developed over five years and designed so it can be easily adapted to reflect changes in legislation and best practice.

It is envisaged that it will also provide a continuous professional development (CPD) function for qualified pharmacists through inter-professional learning.

The e-learning package will enable individuals to work at their own pace and to tailor the package to suit their needs. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, students will also benefit from individual tuition and immediate feedback.

Helix Health chief executive, Howard Beggs, told“This project appealed because it ticked a lot of boxes for us in terms of delivering e-learning to pharmacists. Historically, pharmacy students would have been familiar with our software before they went into the working world.

“But what this technology does is it recognises the Facebook generation as much more computer literate and amenable to e-learning going forward but also for continuous professional development.

“This is an exciting first for the Irish pharmaceutical sector and we’re delighted to be associated with it. The project caught our eye as something with foresight. It is web-enabled and designed to allow students and pharmacy professionals to use it intensively within a short period of time or extensively over a longer period – essentially at their pace.”

Helix Health was established two years ago following the merger of Systems Solutions and Medicom.

The company employs 100 people and is active in the Irish and UK markets, as well as some central European markets.

Beggs told that the company now intends to target the west coast US market and with the help of Enterprise Ireland has identified potential reseller alliances.

“Right now, 10pc of our revenues come from exports and the potential is there to grow that over the short to medium term,” Beggs said.

By John Kennedy

Pictured: Professor John Kelly, head of Pharmacy RCSI; Carmel Flynn, RCSI pharmacy student; and Howard Beggs, chief executive, Helix Health

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years