Increasing Efficiency Through Pharmacy Technology
If independent pharmacies want to survive in this ever-increasing digital age, then accepting the presence of technology and transforming digitally is the way to go.
Technology updates allow pharmacies to get rid of the chance for human error and save time by streamlining mundane, repetitive tasks. By doing these things, your pharmacy can operate at maximum efficiency and be the best that it can be by allowing human workers to focus on patients and building relationships online and in person.
More people using mobile devices has also increased the need for more streamlined digital tasks. Because of this, pharmacies everywhere have to adjust their messaging and marketing along with their service at its core.
Pharmacy Information and Management Systems
Systems that organize and maintain a pharmacy’s inpatient and outpatient settings are called Pharmacy Information Systems (PIS). PIS reports and tracks the cost of drugs and their usage, and they can also reduce errors with medication and compliance risks. All of these components put together makes for safer patients.
A high-functioning PIS includes an interface that shows patient profiles, a computer system with numerous access points, and secure data footage. It includes all these moving parts so pharmacists can adequately search and keep up with patient information, drug information, and health recommendations.
Independent pharmacies typically use a PMS (Pharmacy Management System) that combines a PIS with business operations management. Combining the two programs offers support so operation is more efficient.
These solutions can:
● Automate daily tasks such as:
○ Drug stocking
○ Customer management
○ Billing management
○ Streamline workflows
A PMS includes features like:
● Prescriptions and tracking - Entering and manufacturing compounds, Rx data, refill requests, drug fulfillment
● Billing and pricing - Managing insurance, payments reconciliation, accounts receivable or integration with third-party software
● Reporting - Both advanced and user-based search functions, digital record storage
● Patient management - Clinical information, screening, personal profiles, medical history
● Staffing and workload management - Workflow dispensing, management of inventory and purchasing
A standalone PMS, for updates and features, relies on a single vendor. With an integrated system, it connects with features that the PMS may not currently offer, like:
● Medical document managing
● Pharmacy POS systems
● Electronic health records
● Barcode scanning programs
PMSs must continue to evolve as the digital age presses on. More and more pharmacies offer PMSs as they offer a seamless experience for both the pharmacist and the patient. Along with this, optimization for mobile devices like the usage of apps allows for quicker and more efficient care for customers.
Pharmacies have to be equipped to reach patients on whatever platform that patient is using. By doing this, you can connect with patients no matter what devices they’re using - across numerous points of contact to create a streamlined experience for both parties. Independent pharmacies can utilize omnichannel experiences in order to stay competitive with the market with personalized care.
Here are some examples of omnichannel features when it comes to independent pharmacies:
● Mobile Apps
○ The number of mobile services needed increases as the number of customers that only use smartphones increases. By creating a mobile app, your patients can access their medical profile, refill prescriptions, and set reminders for themselves. This reduces the need for phone calls and saves time spent in the waiting room.
○ Chatbots are like virtual assistants for pharmacists. They can answer quick questions and complete repetitive tasks so pharmacists can spend time on the more in-depth issues. They can also educate patients about their treatment and side-effects.
● Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
○ IVR can use speech recognition to answer questions, once again saving pharmacists time that they can spend with in-person patients. They can also troubleshoot problems and offer status updates for patient requests.
● Patient Messaging
○ Patient messaging allows pharmacists and patients to speak directly, which simplifies the tasks of prescription pickups and information sharing regarding a patient’s health. A HIPAA-compliant, secure messaging system also offers desktop alerts and the ability to image share.
The need for pharmacy automation is continuously growing and increasing, but that doesn’t mean it’s a new concept. Many leaders in the industry have been working since 1970 to streamline medication dispensing and simplify the process.
Companies are continuing to find new ways to cater to pharmacies through automation, using tools like:
● Counting technologies
● Packaging devices
● Workflow management systems
● Interactive/AI-based communication tools
Pharmacy automation is based around the ease of the experience for both patients and pharmacists alike.
The next step for pharmacy automation centers around robotic dispensing for both large and small pharmacies. Dispensing robots can reduce errors in medication, which is a big problem for overworked pharmacy staff in big name stores. In smaller stores, it’s more of a cost-effective tool.
Independent pharmacies, in order to keep up with tech-savvy competitors and a burgeoning young workforce, must keep up with all of the technology demands to create a streamlined and personal patient experience.
Pharmacy management solutions and the usage of automation make it possible for independent pharmacies to maintain relationships with current patients while making their pharmacy as efficient as possible. This means that independent pharmacies can cater to the customers that keep their business afloat while also standing a chance against the big retailers in the industry.
Pharmacy automation will continue to adapt, and as it does, independent pharmacies may have to focus on staying in business and providing the best care possible - rather than worrying about keeping up with the ever-changing trends.
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