Introduce automation to reduce manual processes and focus staff on patient care activities.
Introduce automation to reduce manual processes and focus staff on patient care activities., including:
Automation can deliver efficiencies in administrative processes, including medicines picking and packing, point of sale, marketing, patient monitoring and advice, back office activities such as supply chain and inventory management, and human resource management. This frees up staff time which can be used to deliver services and improve customer care, generating new revenue streams and improving personal relationships with patients.
Early adoption of the right technologies can improve profitability. Options range from large investments such as automated dispensing machines which may only be viable in larger pharmacies to relatively low cost solutions, including platforms that automate supply chain decisions, patient communications and back office activities.
Substantial financial investment may be required. However, these technologies are already present in some pharmacies, so information is available on their impact. An additional benefit is that many of these solutions enable measurement of business performance. With funders focused on cost effectiveness, automation can deliver a competitive advantage over less technologically advanced health providers. It can also demonstrate your personalised approach to patient care, including through virtual monitoring and online patient advice.
Automation in the broader services sector is accelerating regardless of the progress in any particular segment of the health system. If pharmacies do not extract efficiencies from automating administrative tasks, they are more susceptible to labour and other cost increases and at a competitive disadvantage to businesses that have already embedded these solutions. They are also less able to demonstrate value to patients, partners and funders.
You are not alone – champion story
John Kardis – Advantage Pharmacy, Melbourne, VIC
John thinks that one of the biggest challenges in running a successful and efficient pharmacy business lies in the way inventory is managed.
The Advantage Pharmacy group has centralised and automated their ordering through a single platform. Thirty-three stores run on the platform, which automatically suggests purchases of prescription and over-the-counter medicines and retail items as needed, keeping the inventory streamlined and managed.
John constantly evaluates processes and tasks for potential automation opportunities. Stock is managed on demand rather than filling shelves and hoping it is sold. John does not drown the store in stock.
“Automation can save the pharmacy a substantial amount of time - administrative tasks such as purchasing, invoicing and inventory management are no longer consuming valuable time that staff can use to focus on better patient outcomes."
Whilst not as widely supported as other pathways, a majority of patients support automation in pharmacies. A significant portion of patients (33 per cent) were strongly opposed to charging for automation. The solutions that are the most attractive to patients are automatic notifications about the availability of a script for collection, followed by health monitoring and advice via smartphone apps.
Orima Market Research Report - September 2018 (members only)
Calculate the time spent doing repetitive tasks that are not patient focused and look at examples of pharmacies that have used automation to reduce this burden.
Talk to your staff about undertaking an audit of the most repetitive administrative tasks in your pharmacy and how they think automation could be used to create efficiencies and improve patient care.