As pharmacists join other healthcare providers as vaccinators against COVID-19, it’s hard to envision how they will have time to perform their myriad responsibilities, which have ballooned amid the pandemic to include filling a higher volume of prescriptions, performing COVID-19 testing, and providing curbside pickup and home delivery of prescriptions and OTCs.
Pharmacy technology and automation companies have been ramping up their solutions to help pharmacies juggle their expanded roles in 2021. Many of these solutions involve ensuring that pharmacies can offer patients a contactless experience, while others involve assisting pharmacists with COVID-19 vaccine administration and documentation. Still, other companies have developed new software that improves pharmacy workflows and dispensing of prescriptions.
Improving pharmacies’ efficiency also is a top priority for Canada-based Synergy Medical, which has made inroads with its flexible approach to blister-pack production.
“Rather than poke holes in a particular packaging choice, SynMed is expanding its capabilities in the framework, embracing single- and multidose options, as well as covering blister and pouch configurations,” said Samantha Cockburn, vice president of marketing and corporate development. “The key is providing the ability to adapt, while ensuring accuracy and efficiency at every touchpoint. With patented pick and place technology already in place, SynMed automation minimizes cross-contamination issues driven by ongoing COVID-19 concerns, and it easily adapts and integrates with existing pharmacy management software.”
Getting it Right
As convenience and making pharmacists more available for clinical services become priorities, pharmacists must continue to prioritize accuracy for all of their patients. Among the companies that aim to assist with this is LexisNexis Risk Solutions, whose VerifyRx validation tool enables real-time verification of prescriptions to ensure the prescriber data and licensure are accurate.
“This is done automatically within the pharmacist’s workflow to bring assurance without disruption,” said Craig Ford, LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ vice president of pharmacy market. “Provider Data Masterfile also gives our customers a way to standardize and cleanse provider data. We also offer correct patient identification via LexisNexis LexID, a unique patient identifier used as a linking agent for all data points associated with a specific, single patient. Pharmacies implement this solution to ensure the correct patient is receiving the correct medication.”
Once a vaccine is administered, it is important that a pharmacy be compensated, something Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar Intelligence knows all about.
Lari Harding, vice president of client development, said that Inmar will be helping ensure that pharmacies can bill, get paid and reconcile all transactions related to COVID-19 vaccinations. The company also will help pharmacies manage damaged, expired or otherwise returnable vaccination doses.
“This is a pivotal moment for retail pharmacies as they further secure their status as front-line healthcare providers,” Harding said.
The need to bill for immunizations comes as many pharmacies, particularly independents, are facing cash flow difficulty during the pandemic. Jeffrey Swanson, head of sales at Libertyville, Ill.-based Pharma Logistics, said that as a result of the pandemic, some 66% of pharmacy owners are experiencing negative cash flow.
“In 2021, Pharma Logistics will continue to offer pharmaceutical returns services that are convenient and, more importantly, help drug store pharmacies remain compliant while improving their cash flow,” he said.