By: Kevin Copsey, Business Unit Director at Euclid Medical Products
In an era where competitors are getting larger, mail order is growing, and your margins are being squeezed, it’s important for your retail pharmacy to differentiate yourself and add value to your customers.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on retail businesses. A study conducted by the National Community Pharmacists Association found that nearly 90% of community pharmacies applied for small business federal aid under the CARES Act. As COVID-19 related expenses, pharmacy direct and indirect remuneration fees, and decreasing reimbursement make it difficult to stay afloat, independent pharmacies are in danger of losing their footing.
During COVID-19 and beyond, how can an independent retail pharmacy be a cut above the competition? Two words: automation and technology. Below are three ways pharmacy automation and technology can help your pharmacy today to stand out tomorrow.
Increased sales and operational efficiencies.
Installing automated multi-dose adherence packaging and pouch verification will increase sales and drive cost savings for pharmacies currently experiencing reduced revenues and higher operating costs. Packaging and verification of medication is done automatically through these machines. Pharmacies that are offering multi-dose adherence pouch packaging have demonstrated that they can generate incremental revenues by having more patients adherent and filling more prescriptions in the process. They can also reduce DIR fee pull backs if more patients are adherent, too. Finally, retail pharmacies can attract a minimum of 10 new customers per month if they are offering multi-dose packaging and their competition is not. This can equate up to an additional 120 new customers per year. We’ve seen that most pharmacies can show a significant ROI by investing in automated packaging technology in the first year.
In addition to the increased revenue and sales, there is also the opportunity to be more efficient with labor. The Journal of the American Pharmacists Association showed that unit-of-use packaging alone saved more than 46.5 minutes per 100 prescriptions filled compared to count-and-pour dispensing. In most pharmacies, pharmacists often wear many hats – they’re the pharmacist, packager, receptionist, compliance manager, quality control specialist and more all in one day. Automation technology eliminates the need for various multitasking and gives pharmacists time back that can be used to assist more patients, faster. Additionally, with more patients synched and only coming in once per month, instead of five or more times a month, the labor savings speak for themselves.
Improved patient adherence.
Though COVID-19 is top of mind, the lack of medication adherence remains yet another massive crisis in the U.S. healthcare system. The National Institute on Drug Abuse recently found that more than 50% of older patients (ages 57 to 85 years) take more than five medications a day – so it’s no surprise that 50% of all Americans with prescriptions are non-adherent. Medication non-adherence causes a severe financial strain on all pharmacies, and currently costs the U.S. healthcare system nearly $300 billion a year.
Medication synchronization (med sync) along with multi-dose adherence pouch packaging helps combat non-adherence while also increasing your pharmacy’s efficiency and profit. Improved patient adherence can increase your prescription refills by 2-3 additional fills per medication from participating customers over the course of a year which can have a dramatic impact on incremental gross margin.
Compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
As we continue to adjust operations day-to-day as new COVID-19 information emerges, independent retail pharmacies need to continue to look for new ways to do business. Focusing on generating new revenues and reducing operating costs will be key. Additionally, there are opportunities with automation to ensure your pharmacy team is properly socially distanced. With automation packaging and technology, your pharmacy can also reduce the number of times your customers need to come in to pick up their prescriptions – reducing their COVID-19 risk.
Additional revenue streams and reduced labor costs put automation and technology at reach for even the smallest of pharmacies. This “new normal” will require independent retail pharmacies to quickly adapt with the changing times. Implementing pharmacy automation and technology improves patient adherence, aligns with COVID-19 protocols and increases operational efficiencies, all of which are incredibly important both during and after the pandemic. With these advantages in hand, retail pharmacies will step up, stand out, and keep their welcome sign saying, “Come in, we’re OPEN.”
About the Author
Kevin Copsey serves as the business unit director for Euclid® Medical Products, a leading provider of pharmacy automation equipment with a focus on helping pharmacies, long-term care facilities and third-party re-packagers improve operations and overall patient health. Kevin leads operations, new product development, customer service and business development teams. For more information, visit euclidmedicalproducts.com.