PHARMACY

The World Speaks: Taking necessary steps for the future

BY Doyle Jensen

Pharmacy is in a state of evolution like much of health care and retail. Reimbursement rates and DIR fees continue to erode margin. Online sales continue to increase and retail sales continue to decline. To remain relevant, pharmacies must have a value add or differentiation other than location. Their pharmacists must be empowered to engage patients, with the filling of prescriptions no longer the main focus of their practice. Additionally, technician shortages and increasing technician rates compound the growing need for smart use of technology. Centralization of fulfillment increasingly has been accepted. It has proven to reduce overall costs and free up time for pharmacists and staff to deliver valuable patient care.

From a technology standpoint, and more specifically to address fulfillment, pharmacy has painstakingly learned that central-fill technologies fill prescriptions at the lowest possible cost and at the highest level of safety. The impact on cost is substantial, with reductions of 35%-to-80% of current production costs. This savings then can be reallocated to the development and delivery of impactful patient services. These closed-door facilities also provide the flexibility for the prescriptions to be delivered back to the store, mailed or delivered directly to the home, which enables more differentiation.

Resistance to change is real, and some organizations struggle with pivoting to the centralization model. Effective change management is key to educating their pharmacy operations so they understand, appreciate and embrace the value that the improvements will bring to their operation and business. As you’d expect, acceptance or buy in down to the staff level is extremely important to the success of technology initiatives, and ultimately to the patient’s overall experience.

The organizations that make the necessary and smart investment in technology to transform their pharmacy operations likely will lead the way in redefining the roles of pharmacists and pharmacy staffs, and in improving the overall patient experience. With that comes increased morale, new and better services, new business, and improved outcomes.

With the industry’s propensity for change, there’s excitement and inspiration about so many topics and developments. Pharmacy operations executives frequently talk to me about a goal that centers on the rise of pharmacists to be relevant in patient care — having the opportunity to practice at the top of their license, gain provider status, and make a difference in improving patients’ overall health care.

What should the pharmacists retailers do going forward?

Invest in technologies that make sense, help you achieve your goals, and deliver a measurable return on investment. If you don’t disrupt yourself, somebody will.


Doyle Jensen, executive vice president of global business development at Innovation. 

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