So you’ve chosen the right pharmacy software - now what comes next?
Your software is the core of your pharmacy, but there are a variety of additional integrations that can supplement your workflow and help enhance your system. Along with choosing a software, selecting the right integrations that fit your pharmacy’s needs is another crucial part of growing your pharmacy business. Our Software Integration blog series will explore a few of the most common system integrations for independent pharmacies. This week’s Software Integration Feature is about Hardware Essentials for your pharmacy.
Hardware Essentials for Your Pharmacy
Hardware may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about software integrations. However, having all the necessary hardware components to use in conjunction with your software is important in setting up a successful workflow. When purchasing a pharmacy software system, your vendor will tell you what hardware components you need to operate their software. You’ll need the basics such as computer hard drives, monitors, a mouse and a keyboard to actually run your software - however, there are other hardware items you may need in addition to these.
These are some details you should know for your own understanding of what your software vendor will recommend, and also to consider other external purchases that may compliment your store’s operations. Always confirm that any hardware additions will integrate seamlessly with your new software, if applicable.
Common Hardware Purchases to Consider:
- Printers [Thermal vs. Laser] - In a pharmacy, printers are a necessity. Your daily usage of a printer will consist of printing items such as prescription labels, shelf labels, patient intake and consent forms, and patient education packets. While a laser printer can handle all of these items, most pharmacies today use both a laser printer and a thermal printer. Thermal printers are solely used to print labels, and are a beneficial purchase because they are extremely low maintenance. Printing labels on a thermal printer is more consistent and efficient than printing labels on a laser printer. In addition, a thermal printer typically is less expensive, does not require ink, and has a small footprint. For this reason, most pharmacies use a thermal printer for labels and a standard laser printer for all other printing needs.
- Scanners - A scanner will be useful in transferring hard copies into a digital format to be stored in your pharmacy software and attach information to patient profiles. A duplex document scanner has the capability to scan both sides of a page at once, which is convenient for scanning items such as a patient driver license or insurance card. You will want to have a fast, high-volume scanner that can work efficiently and not slow down your workflow.
- Fax Machine - Although fax machines are fairly outdated technology, they are still widely used in the pharmacy industry. Many doctors and other healthcare providers rely on fax machines to communicate with pharmacies, and these faxed documents can typically integrate with your software to upload directly into your system.
- Phone System - A phone system will be another crucial purchase, because it will be one of the primary ways that your patients can communicate with your pharmacy and submit new prescription requests. Many pharmacies use an IVR system to route calls and decrease workflow interruptions, so remember to confirm that your phone system will be compatible with your IVR vendor.
- iPad / Tablet - In today’s modern pharmacy, an iPad or other tablet device is a powerful way to expand and streamline your pharmacy practice. In the busy day-to-day operations of your pharmacy, being able to move around the store and continue working is a practical tool to have. Many pharmacy software vendors will also have mobile apps that can be downloaded on an iPad or tablet, and then used to perform actions that will sync back into your pharmacy system. These apps help you walk away from the counter and perform activities such as patient counseling, inventory management, drive-thru sales, and even mobile delivery. Don’t limit your staff to working only behind the front counter!
- Fingerprint Scanner - If you are interested in enhancing the protection of your pharmacy’s data, biometric authentication is a great way to control your employee access. You can use a fingerprint scanner that connects to your software to confirm employee identification in a more secure way than just password protection.
- Hotspot / Backup ISP - Your pharmacy should always have an emergency preparedness plan, especially if you live in an area that is prone to emergencies such as natural disasters. Having a backup hotspot or internet connection will prepare you to keep operating your business and access your pharmacy software even if you lose your main internet connection.
- Point-of-Sale: Below is a list of common equipment that can compose your POS station. Note: some pharmacy software systems will have an integrated POS system.
- Cash Register - A standard cash drawer to securely store money.
- Credit Card Processor - Your payment terminal will need to accept card payments, and ideally also contactless pay - especially due to the pandemic. Many processors will also have touch-screen signature capture and screen space for display advertising and customized patent messages at the POS.
- Signature Pad - This might be included in your credit card processor, or can be a separate item.
- Barcode Scanner [1D vs. 2D] - A 1D barcode scanner can only scan standard barcodes for item name and price. A 2D barcode scanner is recommended for the POS because it can also scan QR codes, as well as other 2D technology such as the back of a driver license. A 1D scanner might be considered for another area of the pharmacy such as the check station, since you only need to scan for basic item information. Keep in mind that there are other limitations to the 1D scanner, such as difficulty scanning anything that is not a clear, flat surface (ex: curve of a pill bottle). 2D scanners are more versatile; they are able to scan from any angle, scan multiple barcodes at once, and scan codes on a smartphone screen.
- Touch Screen Monitor - Having a touch screen computer monitor for your employees to use at the POS station can speed up your checkout process.
- Receipt Printer - You will also need a receipt printer at the POS to print customer receipts after completing transactions.
Check with your pharmacy software vendor to confirm what hardware will best compliment your new system.