What Do You See As Some Key Technological Developments For Community Pharmacy?
Robotics (like the Rowa automated dispensary and inventory management robot) and cloud based DAA packing services (like MPS) are maximizing pharmacies’ profitability and staff productivity, including providing opportunities to reduce labour costs or redeploy staff to revenue generating roles and position themselves for revenue growth.
Technology like mobile phone apps, eRx, SMS script reminders and electronic patient records have catapulted community pharmacy into the future. Social media, especially Facebook, and even Skype are revolutionising pharmacies’ understanding of customer needs and reach in terms of providing advice and assistance, allowing you to have ongoing contact and research into what your local customer really wants from you, their pharmacy. Skype is especially useful for care and support in remote areas helping increase customers’ medication adherence and dosing accuracy.
What Impact Will Key Technological developments Have For Community Pharmacy?
The positive impact on pharmacy profitability, productivity, customer experience and relationships, staff performance and behaviour is massive.
Doing a careful cost benefit analysis and understanding the needs of your community, customers and staff will help you choose the best technology to replace staff’s low value repetitive tasks and increase their productivity with more customercentric activities especially interfacing directly with customers.
These technologies also provide growth opportunities. Offsite DAA packing means you can take on more community DAAs, increasing your customers and sales without increasing staff or space overheads and provide more time to deliver other valuable professional services too.
Ultimately your more accurate appreciation of the customers’ needs allows you to make a greater difference in their lives, a more effective contribution to their health and increase your loyal customer base and ultimately, revenue in doing that. It’s about adding value to customers lives and in doing that you will differentiate yourself from the competition and your pharmacy will prosper.
Automating or outsourcing aspects of your pharmacy allow your staff to spend more and better quality time providing advice to customers and in better surroundings as you free up floor space for private consulting rooms and more product ranges, building loyalty and enhancing the customer experience.
How Practical/ Difficult Are They To Introduce?
Utilising technology through outsourced services is pretty straightforward, though getting your staff and customers on board takes a little preparation. Others, like automating your dispensary, require quite a bit more research and preparation to work out whether they’re right for your pharmacy, especially because the initial investment is greater. You need to be clear on your return on investment.
The first steps in making it practical to introduce simple technologies like an app or new software are the same as for more sophisticated ones: identify the purpose and value of the change, set your clear goal, keep it front of mind for everybody and then actively manage the change by nominating a ‘champion’ to implement and embed the change permanently in your processes.
An engaged team is critical to your success as is learning how to use the technology fully and properly. Incorporating all the features into your pharmacy’s processes and workflows will maximise all the cost, time and space savings. Choose partners who will streamline the process of change for you. There are some DAA packing services that even provide training processes and software to support both implementation and ongoing use.
What Are The Benefits Or Downfalls Of Different Technologies?
Customers’ increasing sophistication and (sometimes erroneous) understanding of their health needs and symptoms because they can now Google their illness and prescribed medication means they’re taking a more active role in their own health and medication. Also online purchasing means that they are often more price sensitive and less likely to accept long waiting times. Pharmacies need to be on top of their game to counter these potential downfalls.
Technology and especially automation can create cost savings, reduced waste of resources and time, greater productivity in your staff and processes, the opportunity to really walk the talk of being a health destination as your team is freed up to provide care, advice (and appropriate additional products and professional services) to your customers and community and in doing so increase the loyalty and average basket size of your customer base.
Most people are scared of change. If you don’t manage the implementation of the technology correctly, you can destroy staff morale and even lose customers. You have to take them on the journey with you.
If you conduct the change management piece properly though, your staff will become enthusiastic and more effective at winning over customers. They’ll see that technology streamlines their responsibilities so they can focus on the tasks and relationships they’re better at or enjoy more. It’s not just about freeing up space for a consulting room or handling scripts quicker.
What Kind Of Difference Will These Make To Pharmacy Incomes Or Practice?
If you manage the change effectively, the technology will deliver increased sales, profits and efficiency, reduce some costs and provide better support to the community. Outsourcing your DAAs alone has been proven to increase the net profit from each loyal customer by $400 a year and $800 from each non loyal customer.
Automating your dispensary requires a greater initial investment but- especially if you fully not partially automate- the return on investment is huge from redeploying labour from being an expense in the dispensary to a revenue producing asset in the front of shop, to increasing the speed and volume of script processing (I have a client who increased their script volume by 25% in the first 90 days of installing their dispensary robot without increasing staff numbers).
Even simple economical technology can help you make critical improvements to customer engagement, communication and understanding of your customers’ needs. Typically you’ll observe improved consistency and quality of interaction and a pharmacy business that has been future proofed by improving professionalism, accuracy and the customer experience.
Can technology make a measurable difference to your pharmacy’s revenue? Yes! Can it improve your professional practice? Again, yes. The proviso? Make sure you’ve done your homework and know which technology is right for you and then introduce the change into your business properly.
Like to find out more about how to become a high performing pharmacy in these specific market conditions, and utilise today’s technologies?