Throughout the process of selecting a new pharmacy software system for your independent pharmacy, you’ll look at multiple factors such as customer support, pricing, and customer satisfaction. But the core of your software will be the features and capabilities that your pharmacy will be using on a daily basis. Most software vendors will advertise similar lists of features, but when you know how to break down these lists, you’ll be able to see the real difference between what each vendor offers. An important difference to consider is whether features are fully integrated into your software system, are an additional add-on cost, or can only be used through a third-party integration. We will go over a list of common features that tend to vary between vendors and what to consider during your buying process.
Full Integration vs. Add-On vs. Third-Party
So what’s the difference anyway? A feature that is fully integrated into your pharmacy software is included in the quoted price for your new system and is programmed directly into the software. An add-on feature is also programmed directly into your software, however, it is not included in your monthly price and you can expect to see additional fees if you wish to have the feature capability. A third-party integration is an additional add-on feature that is not programmed by your pharmacy software system vendor - it is purchased through a different vendor and may be added onto your system. While there are some extra bells and whistles that will inevitably be third-party add-ons, this article is specifically addressing basic features that compose the core of your software.
Things to Consider:
- Cost - When comparing price quotes from different vendors, make sure to ask what is included in your monthly cost estimate. Sometimes, basic features that you need in your software might be listed as add-ons that will incur additional fees. This includes add-ons within the software itself as well as third-party add-ons.
- Support - Features that are hosted by a third-party vendor will likely have their own customer support outside of your software vendor. Consider whether it will be inconvenient for you to switch between companies and if you will be able to get the support you need.
- Data and Formatting - Be wary of mismatched data and formatting issues when utilizing outside vendors. Sometimes, the crossover of data platforms may cause inconsistencies.
- Double Reporting - At times, third-party features may also require manual entry of data instead of automated processes. This can lead to double reporting, requiring you to enter information twice - once for the third-party vendor and then one more time to transfer it into your main software system.
Which Software Features to Evaluate
When evaluating your options for a new pharmacy software, these are some basic features that you will require to run your business. You should consider how these features work within each software package. Always ask questions and make sure you have a good understanding of how each feature is incorporated into a vendor’s software.
- Reporting - Data reporting is crucial when running a business. You’ll need to have access to all of your financial and operational data so you can keep tabs on where you can improve your bottom line and see what’s working for your store. Always check if reporting is included in the cost of your software or will be an additional cost.
- Customer Support - A strong software support team is crucial for the long-lasting success of your business. Check if customer support is included with your software, because sometimes there is an additional fee to add it on.
- System Updates - It is important to find a vendor that keeps up with industry changes and frequently updates their software to stay innovative and have a efficiently functioning system. Some vendors will charge additional fees for every system update, and you don’t want to find yourself skipping or forgetting crucial updates. An automated software update model is a great way to keep your system always running smoothly.
- LTC/Compounding - If you work with facilities or offer compounding, are these capabilities integrated? How will they work within your main system?
- Point-of-Sale - Is the POS integrated? This will connect your data smoothly and ensure that all transactions are matched up with your workflow.
- Intuitive Features like Pre and Post Edits - Robust pharmacy softwares will always include intuitive features that are built to save your business money and identify lucrative opportunities. An example of this is Pre and Post Edits, which can catch costly mistakes ahead of time and evaluate claims after adjudication to ensure optimal reimbursement.
- Customizable Workflow - Every independent pharmacy is unique, so customization is a powerful feature to have in a software system. If you can personalize your workflow, you can build your software around how your pharmacy functions instead of the other way around.
An Investment for Your Pharmacy’s Future
Whether you are opening a new store or running a seasoned, established business - finding a new software is an investment for your future. You always want to find a software system that will grow along with you and adapt over time to fit your needs. Don’t limit your pharmacy’s success by simply looking at the initial cost on a quote. If you purchase the right software, it will save you more money over time due to its intuitive features and business-savvy capabilities. Your pharmacy software should work for you and enable you to run more efficiently. You’ll be able to identify and act on new opportunities for improving your workflow and expanding your services. It all starts with your software - make the right choice and your pharmacy will be set up for success right from the start.