It takes a lot to run a successful independent pharmacy in today’s competitive market—especially amidst the difficult times we’re experiencing in 2020.
The new normal is vastly different from what it once was; gone are the days of simply filling and billing for prescriptions. Between navigating the complex world of medical billing, standing out amongst big-box competitors, and reimagining workflows and operations to comply with social distancing guidelines, independent pharmacists have their hands full, to say the least. That’s why gaining access to the right pharmacy software features is essential for achieving success as an independent pharmacist.
This article highlights why pharmacy software features matter and how beneficial technology add-ons can improve the way independent pharmacists provide care.
Improving Patient Relationships with Pharmacy Technology Add-Ons
Pharmacy technology add-ons, which enhance the existing solutions pharmacists rely on, help drive medication adherence and efficacy—but that’s not all. Certain additions can also improve patient-pharmacist relationships by freeing up pharmacy staff to spend more one-on-one time, empowering them to offer more clinical care services, and helping spot opportunities to engage.
However, choosing the right software is paramount: It has to fulfill the unique needs of the independent pharmacy, which are usually very different from large retail pharmacies with extensive corporate support. While corporate pharmacies look at technology benefits as nice-to-haves, for independent pharmacies they’re essential for competing with big-box chains, offering exceptional patient care, and being profitable enough to stay in business.
Some of the key software benefits for independent pharmacies are:
- Freeing up time by automating manual workflows
- Pinpointing new patient engagement opportunities
- Navigating medical billing complexities
- Driving increased medication adherence
- Identifying ways to improve pharmacy profitability
- Managing inventory to reduce waste and shortages
Technology add-ons can benefit independent pharmacies in a way that’s unique to their setting; however, the same benefits do not necessarily aid the corporate competitors with completely different workflows, pain points, goals, and approaches. Plus, independent pharmacies can sometimes self-sabotage when they compare themselves and their needs to their corporate counterparts. That’s why it’s imperative that independent pharmacists choose technology with the features best suited to their distinctive needs
How 2020 Has Changed the Way Independent Pharmacies Provide Care
2020 has not only completely altered the way independent pharmacies provide patient care, but also the software they need to rise to that level of care. As the role of the pharmacy in the COVID-19 pandemic expands, each independent pharmacist is tasked with ensuring they can meet new demands while also ensuring patients have access to the medications they need.
According to Brian Caswell, pharmacist and president of the National Community Pharmacy Association (NCPA), pharmacies have adapted to the pandemic in ways that will likely outlast it. He explained, “Pharmacists are rethinking their businesses just like other companies are doing. Some of these changes will be profound. Pharmacists are front-line health care providers, essential to the country’s health care infrastructure. Patient care has always been the top priority. Now we’re finding new ways to deliver the same services, and we’re seeing opportunities to deliver new services. The commitment to our patients won’t change, but some of the ways we do business will.”
Of course, rethinking the way they deliver patient care will require some trial and error—but the burden of adapting to new ways of doing business can be eased with the help of technology. However, with countless tools available, it can be difficult to separate the must-have features from the nice-to-haves. FDS recently published a checklist that highlights some of the most important features to look for in pharmacy software, including seamless integration with your Pharmacy Management System (PMS), comprehensive reporting, educational resources on clinical services, and more.
Medical billing and reconciliation support
Independent pharmacies are now offering COVID-19 testing and preparing for a potential vaccine, which introduces an increased need for technology add-ons with medical billing and reconciliation support. Although nearly three-quarters of survey respondents did not offer point-of-caring testing for illnesses before the pandemic, 61 percent said they anticipated more offering it in the future.
Investing in medical billing and reconciliation software ensures independent pharmacists get paid for the services and supplies they provide. This, in turn, helps them optimize reimbursements for clinical care and supplies and increase pharmacy profits with new clinical care services.
Additionally, independent pharmacies with clinical services also expand access to care in rural, underserved communities where the nearest physician’s office or hospital is likely several miles away.
Real-time inventory management
Along with seeking medical billing support features, independent pharmacists are looking for pharmacy software features like real-time inventory tracking to pinpoint the number of supplies on-hand and avoid unnecessary waste and shortages. According to clinical consultant Evelyn Willett, “You have to know what’s going on in your facility, understanding that this is a fluid situation, and be able to proactively prepare for any surges that may occur.”
Workflow automation capabilities
With so many responsibilities already, and more being introduced all the time, the need for automation capabilities is more apparent than ever before. Workflow automation features reduce the number of manual tasks, empowering independent pharmacists to make smarter use of manpower and work more efficiently. This ultimately frees up time that can be spent engaging with patients and offering new clinical care services to become a trust community caregiver.
That’s not all. Other pharmacy technology add-on features are also extremely beneficial for independent pharmacists—especially amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, medication synchronization (med sync) capabilities are also highly sought after, because they can significantly improve adherence and minimize in-person pharmacy visits to comply with social distancing measures. Plus, by using advanced reporting features, independent pharmacists can identify opportunities for performance improvement.
Choosing Pharmacy Software with the Right Features to Improve Care
Access to advanced pharmacy software is more important than ever before—but it’s only as effective as the key features that come with it. Knowing which technology add-ons to look for is challenging, especially with the changes brought about by COVID-19. However, the right pharmacy solution (with the right features) will go a long way for independent pharmacists looking to improve patient care and build strong relationships in their communities.