Retail pharmacies have gained a reputation for being slow to adopt new technology. But investments in technology and innovation will be a key differentiator for U.S. drug stores wishing to gain an edge over the competition, according to a November 2022 report from New York-based Coresight Research. That edge will be critical going forward, too, as the retail pharmacy landscape has changed dramatically in the past few years.
Those years have been “transformative,” taking the retail pharmacy sector beyond its traditional role of medicine dispenser, said David Pope, chief pharmacy officer for Dallas-based OmniSYS.
“Pharmacists and pharmacies are becoming the chosen source of urgent and primary care for patients,” he said. “The reasons beyond the shift vary, from consumer convenience to ease of healthcare access.”
Danny Sanchez, senior vice president and general manager for EnlivenHealth — the retail pharmacy solutions division of Santa Clara, Calif.-based Omnicell — noted that retail pharmacy also is facing significant challenges. Those range from declining reimbursements and inefficient pharmacy workflows to staffing shortages and antiquated billing systems.
“While COVID-19 intensified these pharmacy challenges, it also had the effect of accelerating major shifts in healthcare delivery, putting a greater focus on the highly accessible and trusted community pharmacy sector to deliver clinical services such as vaccinations and testing,” he said.
Retail pharmacy has made some progress in technology adoption. Pope said, for example, that billing-enabled electronic health records and other technology solutions have helped with the transformation of the last few years. Many retail pharmacies have recently invested in other technologies, too.