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Tech capitalizes on growing opportunities


By now, the retail pharmacy industry knows that its place within the American healthcare landscape is changing. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute has dubbed it the New Health Economy, and in May the firm highlighted the factors that are playing a key role in pharmacy’s transformation.

(To view the full Special Report, click here.)

The confluence of increased emphasis on quality-based reimbursements by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services, a primary care physician shortage that the Association of American Medical Colleges projects could number as high as 31,100 and an aging population (Pew research estimates some 10,000 people will turn 65 years old every day for the next 19 years) has set the stage for a new era of retail pharmacy.

“Thanks to their copious assets and a shifting industry, retail pharmacies have the chance to redefine themselves, seizing more central roles as key players and partners in the New Health Economy,” the report said.

And as industry organizations push to have pharmacists as designated providers within Medicare, PwC reported that some 86% of pharmacists think they should manage their own patient panels, 62% want to perform patient assessments, 74% want to order and interpret lab tests and 77% said they should be able to initiate, adjust and discontinue medication therapies.

But with all of the potential and new services pharmacies can offer comes the need to free the pharmacist’s time to implement the services. Enter pharmacy technology — from platforms to help manage med sync patients to robots that can increase efficiency. With the market size for pharmacy automation set to hit $7.9 billion by 2018, according to Transparency Market Research, the New Health Economy is also presenting opportunities for automation and tech companies to work with retail pharmacy partners.

In this section, Drug Store News looks at some of the companies working to help pharmacies make the most of the opportunities to grow their businesses and improve patient health.

One of the main pain points that companies are working to address is will-call. Innovation, RxMedic and ScriptPro are on the forefront of addressing will-call issues by automating the process in distinct ways that can save pharmacies time and reduce dispensing errors.

Another area of focus is the influx of documentation that accompanies the increased number of services pharmacists provide. Both QS/1 and ScriptPro are set to introduce two new solutions that can help pharmacists manage documentation for MTM services, immunizations and specialty pharmacy. In an effort to help boost the front-end, Innovation is set to introduce the United States to a digital shelving solution that includes back-end fulfillment and could solve various inventory issues that pharmacies face.

All of these innovations are taking place as software companies like VoicePort, QS/1 and Ateb work to strengthen their offerings. From VoicePort’s newly rebranded CLARO Pharmacy Solutions suite to Ateb’s robust data analytics and QS/1’s constantly evolving SharpRx platform, these companies are working to make sure that a pharmacy’s software is able to help its patients achieve healthy outcomes and deliver the level of innovation necessary in the New Health Economy.

“The result [of the health industry’s transformation] will be a more innovative, value-driven and nimble New Health Economy, better able to fulfill one of mankind’s most fundamental needs — to be and stay well,” PwC said in its report.

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