Worker shortages are real, and every industry is feeling the heat, including pharmacy. According to Pharmacy Times, 10 % of executives reported losing 41% or more of their technician workforce. From point-of-sale to dispensing and clinical service delivery, staffing problems can disrupt every aspect of your business, creating overworked employees, longer wait times for medications, and unhappy patients.
The good news is that pharmacy automation can provide a solution. Pharmacy automation increases workflow efficiencies while it relieves the pressure of staffing shortages, reduces stress, improves team morale and increases revenue opportunities as it frees up staff to deliver more high-value clinical services.
Pharmacy Technology Solutions 101
Automation in pharmacy runs the gamut from PMS to clinical platforms, medical billing, and registry reporting, and it’s important to keep what’s best for your pharmacy in mind before purchasing additional software solutions that work with your PMS. The most efficient workflows come to life when they solve problems you have now, while opening up opportunities for the future. Choosing the wrong solution or trying to implement too many technology platforms at once can create additional friction for you and your pharmacy staff. We understand that making technology decisions can be overwhelming. That’s why we’re going to walk through steps to identify what you should automate, then we’ll talk about how.
Steps to Successful Pharmacy Technology Implementation
1. Identify your manual processes
What pieces of your workflows take the most manual time? Is it documenting vaccines with your state registries? Handing out paperwork, scanning paperwork, or filing paperwork? What about verifying insurance for DME and other clinical claims? Create a list of all of your manual processes, it will be helpful as you work through the remaining steps. Be sure to highlight the manual workflows your staff is focusing their time on, such as answering refill calls, and documenting immunizations.
2. Analyze your existing skills vs. resources
You only have so many people resources. The key to making pharmacy automation work at its highest level is to maximize your people resources by using technology to alleviate administrative workload and drive greater efficiency. What are staff most needed for? Dispensing medications? Counseling patients? Administering vaccines and clinical services? All of the above?
Take your list of manual processes and compare it to what your staff is most qualified to do, what brings in the most profitable revenue, and what technology or machines simply can’t replicate. Similarly, think about what can be automated and how it will reduce pressures on your staff. As we mentioned in the introduction, nearly every workflow has an automation opportunity of some sort.
3. Fill the gaps
Now put steps one and two together. Be purposeful in how you determine what makes the most sense financially for your business now and in the future. Look beyond quick wins for the processes that will deliver long-term success: That’s what you automate. Below are some of the most common, realistic, and efficient automation suggestions for pharmacy.
What Processes Can You Automate?
For most pharmacies, this is an easy area for technology to take over. In fact, you may already have automation in place here. However, if you are still doing a lot of refills over the phone or dedicating a resource to calling on refills and will call, there is room for improvement. From patient communications solutions to guided medication management — the opportunities are nearly endless when it comes to prescription management automation. For example, using inbound and outbound communications can help you gain efficiencies and save time, freeing up staff to deliver high-value clinical services that generate more revenue. Or using medication therapy management (MTM) automation can allow you to easily view the patient’s data and deliver a medication review, document the encounter, and submit eCare plans, making it simple to add another reimbursable clinical service to your pharmacy practice.
Immunizations provide a valuable patient service and are a vital part of any pharmacy’s revenue. But without automation, immunizations can be a manual workflow nightmare. The great news is that a myriad of automation opportunities are available for immunizations. Want to eliminate paper? Automate consent forms and documentation? Better manage walk-ins? Automate state registry reporting, both pushing data to the registry and receiving it back? All of those options are available for your consideration.
Companion Revenue Opportunities
Pharmacy automation that brings in additional revenue? Yes, revenue-accelerating automation does exist and comes in many forms. These include targeted patient messaging, customized inbound IVR messages, and an EHR that offers companion vaccines during an encounter —- and more. This takes revenue add-ons beyond the impulse aisle.
The Bottom Line
A strong technology foundation builds efficient workflows that power your pharmacy business both today and well into the future. By taking the steps listed above your pharmacy can be well on its way towards automating prescription interactions, immunization paperwork, and companion revenue opportunities. Plus, the right tech solutions enable greater efficiencies and reduce staff stress. It can also help keep your pharmacists and staff working at the top of their licenses, which improves staff satisfaction and retention.
Ready to find out how OmniSYS technology solutions can work for you? At OmniSYS, we offer a plethora of automation opportunities including patient communications for medication management and online refills, real-time medical billing, and immunization reporting. Click here to talk to an expert today.