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How retail pharmacies can use technology to conquer compliance

IoT sensing tools offer a simplified solution to regulatory compliance complexities.

For retail pharmacies, meeting intensive regulatory compliance standards can be a strenuous and convoluted challenge. From CDC and FDA requirements to VFC and BOP regulations, the margin for compliance errors across the pharmaceutical industry is now tighter than ever. And there’s data to back it up. Take the FDA,  for example, which issued more than 200 warning letters containing 1,120 citations to drug companies regarding cases of noncompliance from October 2020 to September 2021. 

The strict standards for pharmaceutical compliance are understandable. Maintaining continuous compliance ensures the safety and efficacy of medications and vaccines. However, for pharmacies operating with primarily manual-based workflows and processes, meeting compliance is far easier said than done. A 2020 study by the National Library of Medicine found that clinical activities accounted for 82% of a pharmacist’s time during a single shift. 

The applied integration of IoT Sensing-as-a-Service (SaaS) tools across retail pharmacy offers a simplified solution to regulatory compliance complexities. From real-time vaccine temperature monitoring to AI-powered digital decision-making, the scalable IoT SaaS framework has game-changing potential for the future of pharmaceutical compliance. 

Continuous temperature and humidity monitoring 

With IoT SaaS, retail pharmacies can automate continuous temperature and humidity monitoring of vaccines and medications to increase compliance visibility and improve staff productivity. That means no more tedious and time-consuming manual logging and physical reporting that takes pharmacists away from tending to patients. Instead, the advanced solution’s IoT cellular gateways, rather than infringing on company Wi-Fi that is not stable and less secure, send the environmental recording data to an interconnected dashboard, which automates it into a simplified compliance log. This provides verifiable proof that the products were stored in adherence to federal and state regulations. 

In the event of an excursion, the prescriptive analytics solution will alert a pharmacist in real time and direct them to alleviate the issue before it evolves into a noncompliant event. The heightened levels of interconnected, IoT-afforded visibility coupled with automated reporting provides an effective way for pharmacies to mitigate the risk of noncompliance while also reducing the rate of human error. And with digitized task management, employee productivity is enhanced by eliminating routine and mundane compliance workflows. 

Continuous pharmaceutical asset protection 

Retail pharmacies can leverage IoT SaaS to pivot from reactive-based corrective equipment repairs to predictive and preventive maintenance for proactive asset management — a shift that further streamlines compliance and can even save them millions in annual repair costs. While a calendar-based maintenance approach leads to unpredictably high maintenance costs and elongated operational downtime, predictive and preventive maintenance enabled by IoT technology maximizes the lifecycle of each individual asset while facilitating lower and more calculated repair costs.

Within the IoT SaaS platform, each asset inside the retail pharmacy — a large freezer, mid-size refrigerator or small pill storage container — is continually monitored for performance and maintenance scheduling. By automating the entire process, pharmacies can reduce the likelihood of equipment malfunctions.

In reality, the complexities of pharmaceutical compliance will only continue to grow as more medications and regulations are introduced to the market. With the integrated adoption of IoT SaaS, they can take proactive steps toward fostering a more efficient and compliant workplace environment for years to come.

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Guy Yehiav, president of SmartSense by Digi. 

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