When a person hears the pharmacy that they use plans to automate, they may worry it will force them to deal with robots rather than humans. That’s not what pharmacy automation does, however. Instead, automation allows machines to handle repetitive tasks without human input. Staff members can focus on client care rather than on functional tasks. Staff numbers don’t decline, but those present in the pharmacy can take on duties that add value. For example, they spend more time cross-selling and offering private clinical services. Additional revenue resulting from the automation of the pharmacy may actually lead to the need for new staff members.
The Role of the Pharmacist
Medication Packaging Machines and other automated devices don’t eliminate the need for a pharmacist. They remain on hand to provide medical advice and consult with patients. This is one job no robot can take over.
Where to Start with the Automation Process?
Pharmacies often ask where they should begin automating tasks. Look for those repetitive tasks that take up the most time. In many cases, filling prescriptions takes up valuable time. However, phone calls fill a large portion of a pharmacist’s days, and staff members frequently take phone calls that pull them away from other tasks. Implement an automated phone messaging system to reduce the number of calls that need to be handled by a human.
Medication Packaging Equipment
Pharmacies must provide countless drug formularies. With the help of oral medication packaging equipment, doing so becomes an easier task. Using the machine eliminates the need for humans to fulfill solid oral medications. The machine chooses the correct package size for each medication and includes graphics and specific dosing instructions. This helps improve patient compliance.
Furthermore, these machines can split pills and tablets to increase accuracy. In addition, the machine verifies the accuracy of packaged oral solids. It analyzes the shape, color, and quantity of every pill or tablet in the package to ensure the contents of the package match the label.
Robots That Dispense Medications
Dispensing robots also benefit pharmacies. When a robot is used, staff members have more time to complete other tasks. In addition, these robots reduce errors. Small pharmacies might find they won’t benefit from this investment, as they don’t fill many prescriptions each day. However, pharmacies that do large volumes of sales see an improvement in overall operations when they purchase a robot that dispenses medications.
Customer service also improves with pharmacy automation. With the right automation, a person can handle every aspect of medication collection online. When clinical services are needed, the patient makes the appointment, pays for the visit, and completes the pre-assessment questionnaire all before arriving at the pharmacy. The actual appointment is reserved for patient care and treatment.
In addition, when a person visits the pharmacy, the automated systems collect valuable data. This allows the pharmacy to communicate with prior patients quickly and easily. Many pharmacies offer a special for patients who sign up, as this allows them to re-capture business. Many retail stores now present customers with an iPad, so they can sign up on the spot and take advantage of the special.
Prescription Collection Machines
No patient wants to wait in line to pick up a prescription, especially when they aren’t feeling well. With the help of prescription collection machines, they no longer need to. As with bank ATMs, the customer visits the automated machine, enters information specific to them, and the machine dispenses the prescription. The patient can then go home, take the medication, and begin recovering from what ails them.
Medication Record Systems
Pharmacies make use of patient medication records. Systems that handle these records vary in terms of their efficiency. Pharmacies must evaluate their current system and see if it is time to upgrade. Today, many systems integrate with other pharmacy automation devices to simplify the pharmacy’s workflow.
Pharmacy Management Systems
Every pharmacy benefits from a software program that allows staff members to see a digital overview of the entire organization. Generating and analyzing reports takes little effort, so management can make informed decisions that benefit the pharmacy. Medication record systems only handle medication management, while pharmacy management systems serve as digital business assistants. Today, many providers combine the two systems into one program to simplify pharmacy operations more.
The pharmacy management system brings together all aspects of operation in one central location. This includes inventory levels, human resources, patient data, and sales, along with many other things. The program may even offer a digital display.
A digital pharmacy display shares messages with visitors. Every pharmacy needs to ensure it is not bombarding consumers with information. Doing so leads to messages getting lost in the crowd. With a digital display, the pharmacy can create a playlist of messages it wants to share with visitors. The display moves through these messages to allow each communication to stand alone and attract attention.
Prescription Re-ordering Apps
Patients often have prescriptions they must fill regularly. The patient can use an app to complete this task without the need to speak to a human. This helps reduce the number of calls pharmacy staff members must take. In addition, this app alerts the customer when the prescription is ready to be picked up or delivered.
Each pharmacy must investigate the prescription re-ordering apps available to find the one that best meets its needs. When evaluating the apps, look at how each one will reduce the workload on pharmacy staff members. However, this app must also provide a user-friendly experience or customers won’t use it. The pharmacy will have wasted its money.
Controlled Drug Registers
Pharmacies must be able to account for all controlled drugs on site. Electronically doing so makes it easier during a pharmacy audit, as the information is readily available. Staff members won’t need to search for the required documents. They can filter the data to only show relevant results. The automated system means fewer human errors, and staff members can rectify any mistakes easily. The pharmacy staff will have more room to work, as there won’t be large cabinets taking up space. These cabinets would hold paper records in the past and the pharmacy can now eliminate them.
Every pharmacy needs to begin the automation process. Where it starts depends on many factors. However, all pharmacies have prescriptions that must be fulfilled, so a pharmacy packaging system is of great benefit. The same holds for controlled drug registers and other automated devices. Consider all options to find those that will help grow your pharmacy and implement them today. By doing so, the pharmacy can benefit from the additions in little time.