What Community Pharmacy can Learn From the Auto Industry
The automotive industry has transformed dramatically over the last one hundred years — even in the last twenty years. The same can be said for community pharmacy.
Consider flip-up headlights, CD players and hood scoops. These once revered car features are no longer desired by consumers. Translation: what worked in community pharmacy ten, twenty or thirty years ago simply won’t work today. From pharmacy regulations to innovative technology and patient needs, everything has changed and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Here are four things community pharmacy can learn from the auto industry.
1. Technology is changing the fundamentals of pharmacy
In the automotive world, technology is now king. We have hyper-efficient electric cars, a fleet of vehicles at your disposal through a mobile application, wi-fi enabled vehicles, and sooner than later, we’ll all be riding around in driverless cars.
Technology is driving change in almost every industry imaginable, including pharmacy. There are innovations designed to better connect pharmacists with patients, improve workflow and operational efficiencies, and potentially impact the bottom line. Community pharmacies are also using technology, like telepharmacy, to expand their geographic footprint, provide access to underserved patients and combat slim margins and declining reimbursements. Embracing and adopting emerging technology that makes sense for your operation will make your pharmacy more powerful — now and in the future.
2. Adapt to the wants and needs of consumers
Consumers desire more technology in their cars now than ever before, including smart dashboards and autonomous features like adaptive cruise. Yes, there’s such a thing as adaptive cruise control. Welcome to your new life of luxury.
Now, think about your patients. What do they want? What is on the top of their list of needs from the pharmacy? Two needs we hear most from pharmacy owners and staff is excellent customer service and convenience. As a community pharmacy, you most likely already excel at delivering a great experience for patients. Encourage your technicians and pharmacists to be personable, engage with patients and do what they can to keep those patients coming back. In terms of convenience, telepharmacy is a great way to provide more convenient locations for patients and increase overall pharmacy access. Even simple tactics like using secure text messages to remind customers to fill and pick up prescriptions is a great way to offer convenience to patients. Some pharmacies even have online refill portals, again tying in the technology piece. I can’t stress how important the role of technology will play in the future of community pharmacy.
3. Efficiency is more important than ever
In recent years, we’ve seen a dramatic shift in the automotive industry when it comes to fuel efficiency and engines. As of this year, one major car manufacturer confirmed that it plans to introduce thirteen new global electrified vehicles with hybrid versions of its most popular models. Cars are less dependent on gasoline now than ever before, and newer, more efficient engines are producing more than their similar predecessors.
On the pharmacy side of things, efficiency is somewhat of an eternal struggle. How can we optimize the physical workflow or ensure we’re streamlining movement behind the counter?
In some cases, efficiency may be the difference between turning a profit, or not. When we think about implementing efficiencies, again, we turn to technology. Automated pill counting machines help reduce fill time and drug inventory management solutions can help save money and the time it takes to manually order inventory. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging pharmacy technologies can all drive pharmacy performance improvements, making better use of your staff’s time.
4. Safety remains uber important
One could argue that safety should be number one on the list for car makers, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Even so, safety standards are generally increasing in the automotive industry. One car manufacturer recently stated, “That by 2020, no one should be seriously injured or killed” while driving one of their new cars. That’s a bold move would appear to be ahead of industry standards.
When it comes to safety in your community pharmacy, what are you doing that’s ahead of the curve? What processes have you implemented that you can definitively say are having an impact on patient safety? Quality assurance checks, maintaining up-to-date CII logs, implementing an image-based workflow with an audit log, quality procedures for compounded prescription items, and storing drugs properly can all help keep safety at the forefront of your work. Are you going above and beyond to put safety first for your patients? Let them know about it through marketing activities. That is one piece of advertising they would appreciate seeing.
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