Change is hard. It’s scary. It can also be expensive. Everyone takes comfort in using tried and true methods and procedures, so much so that change is actively and openly resisted.
This can be the case for many pharmacies, especially small ones, who see large dollar signs before they see the advantages that newer automated systems can provide.
Benefits of Automation
Fortunately, prices for these newer technologies are becoming more reasonable and within the reach of smaller pharmacies. Pharmacy Automation Systems can provide several benefits for large or smaller pharmacies, including:
- Speed – Pharmacists are slower than machines that can count pills and ready prescriptions. When pharmacists are freed up from time-consuming tasks, they have more time to consult with their patients.
- Increased Accuracy – Pharmacists are well-trained and highly-skilled, but they are human and can make mistakes. Automated pill counting systems help reduce the margin for error.
- Better Security – Locked cabinets requiring specific dispensing information can prevent errors.
- More Confidentiality for Patients – automated telephone messaging systems can prevent pharmacists from divulging inappropriate information.
What Kinds of Tasks Can Be Automated?
Some forms of automation technologies have been used by pharmacies since the 1960s. Since then there are more tasks that can be automated, including:
- Notifications that medications are ready for pickup
- Measuring liquid medications and counting pills
- Inventory management
- Contacting physicians over the phone or by computer
- Managing patient and physician phone messages
- Updating patient records, and
- Identifying dangerous drug interactions
Recognizing the benefits of automation is just half the goal. The other half is knowing how to integrate it into your pharmacy’s day-to-day operations.
Four Tips to Increase Efficiency
It’s vital to keep your pharmacy competitive. Excessive costs and inefficient employees can hurt your business. There are ways to be sure that your business isn’t being hampered.
- Evaluate Your Staff – Everyone needs to be up to speed on the procedures and tasks required to keep the pharmacy operating. If tasks are being completed slowly, there may be a need for more education and training. If your staff is overloaded and can’t keep up with demand, it may be time to hire more technicians or pharmacists.
- Streamline Purchasing of Medications – Keeping the pharmacy fully stocked with medication is likely the highest operating expense. There are ways to decrease it. First, find lower-cost contracts even though they are long-term. Second, be sure that you can access newly released generic drugs immediately after release. Generics are less expensive than pharmaceutical brands. Third, use tiered discount programs and ordering incentives. Fourth, check for undelivered medications and get reimbursed for them.
- Optimize Inventory Control – Using an automated system, you will be able to create a baseline inventory, watch for trends in the usage of popular medications, and adjust ordering levels to patient demand.
- Accept Automation – Not having to spend time doing routine tasks frees up pharmacists for increased opportunities to consult with patients and forge strong bonds in the community.
Using new technologies can be daunting, but so can losing money because your staff is bogged down with doing time-consuming tasks. When staff members have more time, they are able to create rapport with customers and forge stronger ties with the community.
More pharmacies are turning to automation technologies to create more freedom and stress-relief for their staff members, save money, and remain competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment.