In an era where competitors are getting larger, mail order is growing and your margins are being squeezed, it’s important for your retail pharmacy to differentiate itself and add value to your customers.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on retail businesses. A study conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association found that nearly 90% of community pharmacies applied for small business federal aid under the CARES Act. As COVID-19-related expenses, pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration fees, and decreasing reimbursement make it difficult to stay afloat, independent pharmacies are in danger of losing their footing.
During COVID-19 and beyond, how can an independent retail pharmacy be a cut above the competition? Two words: automation and technology. Below are three ways pharmacy automation and technology can help your pharmacy today to stand out tomorrow.
Increased Sales and Operational Efficiencies
Installing automated multidose adherence packaging and pouch verification will increase sales and drive cost savings for pharmacies currently experiencing reduced revenues and higher operating costs. Packaging and verification of medication is done automatically through these machines. Pharmacies that are offering multidose adherence pouch packaging have demonstrated that they can generate incremental revenues by having more patients adherent and filling more prescriptions in the process. They can also reduce DIR fee pullbacks if more patients are adherent, too.
In addition to the increased revenue and sales, there is also the opportunity to be more efficient with labor. The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association showed that unit-of-use packaging alone saved more than 46.5 minutes per 100 prescriptions filled compared with count-and-pour dispensing. In most pharmacies, pharmacists often wear many hats — they’re the pharmacist, packager, receptionist, compliance manager, quality control specialist and more all in one day. Automation technology eliminates the need for various multitasking and gives pharmacists time back that can be used to assist more patients, faster, which also brings labor savings.
Improved Patient Adherence
Though COVID-19 is top of mind, the lack of medication adherence remains yet another massive crisis in the U.S. healthcare system. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently found that more than 50% of older patients (ages 57 years old to 85 years old) take more than five medications a day — so it’s no surprise that 50% of all Americans with prescriptions are nonadherent. Medication nonadherence causes a severe financial strain on all pharmacies, and currently costs the U.S. healthcare system nearly $300 billion a year.
Medication synchronization, along with multidose adherence pouch packaging, helps combat nonadherence while also increasing your pharmacy’s efficiency and profit. Improved patient adherence can increase your prescription refills by two to three additional fills per medication from participating customers over the course of a year, which can have a dramatic impact on incremental gross margin.
Compliance with COVID-19 Protocols
As we continue to adjust operations for COVID-19, independent retail pharmacies need to continue exploring new ways to do business.
Generating new revenues and reducing operating costs will be key. Automation packaging and technology, can also reduce the number of times your customers need to come in to pick up their prescriptions — reducing their COVID-19 risk.
This “new normal” will require independent pharmacies to quickly adapt to the changing times. Implementing pharmacy automation and technology improves patient adherence, aligns with COVID-19 protocols and increases operational efficiencies, all of which are incredibly important during and after the pandemic. With these advantages in hand, retail pharmacies will step up, stand out, and keep their welcome sign saying, “Come in, we’re open.”
Kevin Copsey is Euclid Medical Products’ business unit director.