It’s essential to stay with the times. The industry is constantly evolving, and trends change all the time. Regarding your independent pharmacy, staying with the times can make or break your small business.
Understanding digital pharmacy trends is essential to your independent pharmacy’s long-term success. This also goes beyond solvency — these new trends can open new doors toward exceptional patient care.
Here are some digital pharmacy trends that can enhance your independent pharmacy’s success.
Nowadays, patient care heavily focuses on convenience and efficiency. Home delivery is a digital pharmacy trend that stands at the forefront of this idea. Many patients prefer to receive their medications at the door rather than wait in a long line after work.
Knowing this, you should consider providing mail delivery services for your independent pharmacy. This will be especially convenient for more elderly and disabled patients. A mail-order delivery service would break down mobility barriers as well.
There is a possible caveat to mail delivery services.
A study by the National Library of Medicine found that though mail delivery is more convenient, it “may reduce time available to provide comprehensive pharmaceutical care, particularly in traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies.”
In other words, mail delivery services can prevent you from providing comprehensive patient care.
That’s where communication comes in. Talk or text your patients about their prescriptions when necessary. The charm of independent pharmacies is how you can put a personal touch on traditional work.
Build a rapport with your patients, all the while they enjoy the comfort of their own homes.
More Automated Services
91% of independent pharmacy patients want technology to enhance their experience, according to a report by Prescryptive.
As mentioned earlier, convenience comes at a cost. However, it’s your job to give the patient what they want (to a certain point, of course.)
Simply put, pharmacy work has never been more complicated. Independent pharmacies are expected to do more than just fill prescriptions or administer vaccines. Clinical services are the current name of the game, putting more on your plate than ever before.
That’s where automated services come in. One of the most prominent digital pharmacy trends, automated services help both pharmacists and patients to make their respective experiences a little easier.
For independent pharmacists, you can automate phone calls, text messages, refill requests, prior authorization requests, and other time-consuming tasks — or at least you should.
Your pharmacy software system should offer automated services for the previously mentioned tasks. Automate these tasks so you and your pharmacy staff can focus on more urgent tasks. Pharmacy work is always urgent after all.
For your patients, your pharmacy software system should have an app that lets them request refills and update their information at a moment’s notice. Automated services help streamline the digital pharmacy experience for both you and the patient.
Your workflow becomes more efficient and your patients are even more satisfied. Contrary to popular belief, you truly can get the best of both worlds — all you need is an exceptional pharmacy software system.
The Increasing Role of AI
Artificial intelligence has taken the world by storm over the last few months. With the advent of clients like ChatGPT, AI is here to stay. And for independent pharmacists, this should be seen as a good thing.
Currently, AI’s role in the digital pharmacy industry revolves around automation. It does some of the tedious heavy lifting so you can focus on the long line of patients in your drive-thru.
AI is meant to make menial processes a bit more tolerable. As we mentioned in our “AI in Pharmacy: What You Need to Know” blog, AI in digital pharmacy is currently best used as a supplemental tool.
It’s still very much in its infancy and will always require you at the helm. Relying on AI too much can do away with your independent pharmacy’s personal touch.
For what it currently is, let AI enhance your pharmacy’s services — but don’t let it be a service on its own.
Fluctuating Prescription Prices
Digital pharmacy trends change all the time. Consequently, prescription prices have the same level of volatility — even when you have insurance.
Changing prescription prices isn’t necessarily a new digital pharmacy trend but it remains an important one.
Several factors contribute to higher prices, such as drug shortages. If a manufacturer runs out of a certain drug, other wholesalers can provide the same medication from a different company.
The catch is that the available manufacturer usually charges a higher price. What’s more, some insurance might not even cover that manufacturer, meaning your patient has to pay the out-of-pocket price.
Even if your independent pharmacy has the medication in stock, it might be too expensive to carry. The current Ozempic shortage is a perfect example of this.
Per an NBC News article, Nate Hux, owner of the Ohio-based Pinkerton Pharmacy, decided to stop carrying the injection because the cost outweighed the profit.
The main culprit? Pharmacy benefit managers, though that’s a whole other can of worms. Check out our “What You Need to Know About Pharmacy Benefit Managers” blog to learn more about PBMs’ place in the pharmacy industry (the topic is way too big for a single section).
Drug shortages are nothing new but are always damaging. One way to curb a drug shortage is to order ahead when you can.
Read our “6 Ways to Manage Drug Shortages” blog for more ways to manage drug shortages.
The Times They Are a-Changin’
Innovation has no brake pedal. It floors the gas and will stop for nothing and no one. That’s the case for small businesses and independent pharmacies alike.
It’s vital to know what’s going on in the pharmacy industry. Digital pharmacy trends usually aren’t passing fads. They are the start of what the industry will become.
Be in the know so you have a lay of the land for the foreseeable future. Then comes your plan of action. Your independent pharmacy will thrive and your patients will thrive in their health journey. All it takes is knowing what’s going on.