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Pharmacy Management Software Q&A | Eric Shoffner, BPharm

Features and benefits to consider when buying or using a pharmacy management system.

Q. How user-friendly is the (pharmacy management software) “system”?

From past experience, I have found that a difficult system can be mastered by long-term and committed employees (pharmacist/techs). I have also found that turnover is a major factor in our industry. Always has been. We wanted a system that was easy to use and understand, intuitive, friendly, robust, and powerful but not overwhelming and complicated. It had to have an appeal and a modern look. Long gone are the days of typewriters, dot matrix printers, and monochrome green screens. Everyone likes fresh, neat, and clean, and these systems exist. Don’t settle for less.

Q. How long should it take a knowledgeable person to be efficient or proficient on a system?

The longer it takes, the greater your chance of having chosen a cumbersome system. We can train a fourth-year pharmacy student/intern with no experience and have them to 75% efficiency within 45 minutes to two hours. That time frame has helped us to set the bar for expectations of people new to our system. We have done this very thing 80 times in the past five years. A system should NOT ever leave the trainer or the trainee feeling defeated. If so, you have the wrong system.

Growth and expansion.

Q. Does the system evolve? Morph to change?

If it does not, you end up with an up-and-coming “doorstop.” A system that evolves and is incredible should be an expectation. Our best and most recent example would have to be COVID-19 vaccines. Our developer worked with their stores and set us all up for success by allowing us to build “templates” for each vaccine. Once done, we simply entered the patient name and the vaccine wanted and all other fields were pre-populated. Our staff could process a vaccine in seconds versus minutes. The same exact benefit came with ALL other vaccines: Flu, Shingles, MMR, Tdap, etc. Vaccines are now one of our staff’s favorite entries. Billing was refined as well. We have processed well over 10,000 vaccines since COVID-19 started, and we could not imagine the difficulties we would have faced if we did not have a great partner in our vendor.

Q. Does your pharmacy management software vendor listen and modify according to needs and requests?

We all have special tasks we do or need that make our pharmacies unique. Can your vendor adapt? Will they? And if they can and tell you the time frame is July, be sure

to ask “what year?”

Q. Do they have competent tech support? What’s their wait time?

When you are a down store, you want help NOW. For example, your cash register not working, computer fax not receiving faxes, the printer not working, you’re unable to fill ANY prescriptions, the server is down or not responding, you experience a black screen — machine not responding to any key strikes, etc. Waiting to have a report built for a special purpose is not a demand but a request. If you know the difference, make sure your vendor does as well.

Q. What does the pharmacy management software system cost?

Watch out for the “add ons” (equipment cost and monthly service contract). Know what you are getting. For example, if they offer you text messaging and then charge you 50 cents per text — yes, you have it but you can’t afford it.

Q. Can they link into robust reporting systems such as State Vaccine Registries, Prescription Monitoring Programs, etc.?

Our system auto reports all our vaccines and control data. We have heard nightmare stories from our peers of manual entries and hours and hours of added and needless work.

Q. Do they have a vast selection of (pre-populated) business reports?

Most of us use the same/similar reports for business decisions or accounting purposes. Including the need for end-of-month reports for our accountants, quick price reports for client inquires, and patient profile requests, etc.

Q. Does your system make you “smarter”?

If you cannot hit one button and find out EXACTLY where any patient’s meds are at any given time — you are missing out. Modern systems make you smarter and are designed to make you look so. We can hit a “hotkey” and type a few letters of a patient’s name to discover exactly where that patient’s meds are in our system. For example, with one button, we can locate the patient and see where their prescriptions are (fridge, will-call bin, with the pharmacist, at input, etc.). Our software even tells price and location in real time.

Safety Features.

This is actually number one and should be an EXPECTATION — that is why we listed it as number 10 and not one. A great pharmacy management system should prevent errors, not cause them! There are so many tools that can aid the pharmacy team: image scanners, barcode scanners, NDC checks, tablet images, counting devices/robots, visual images of actual products dispensed, just to name a few. All of these advancements should be able to be integrated into your system and if they can’t, you might have the wrong system.

Eric Rx Pic.JPG

Eric Shoffner, BPharm

Eric Shoffner, BPharm, is a licensed pharmacist and preceptor in Arkansas. He and his wife have owned two independent community pharmacies in rural Arkansas since 2016. Together, they have a passion for student pharmacists and work as pharmacy ownership preceptors with three colleges of pharmacy in their area. Prior to that, he was a 30-year corporate leader and pharmacist. Eric’s interests include advocating for community pharmacy services that help patients in primary care and post-acute care measures and patient outcomes. He is dedicated to putting out helpful information to other pharmacists and to students. He is also passionate about DEA Takeback Events and drug addiction and dependence. He is now living his dream, taking care of patients in his hometown of Newport and his adopted “favorite city” of Crossett.

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