By: Sid Chatterjee, VP of Products
Pharmacists need more time, patients want more choice
As we have all witnessed firsthand the pharmacy industry has become — and will remain — front and center for community health care, and pharmacists are critical to this transformation. Right now, when you enter a pharmacy, you will witness so many talented pharmacists drowning in a deluge of paperwork and phone calls, instead of spending time on patient care. As the lines at the pharmacy counter continue to grow, the hard reality is that pharmacists have less and less time to provide quality patient care, from consults to vaccines. Our communities need pharmacists out front, as accessible health care providers. That’s why the work we do here at iA is so important.
We have also seen the commercialization of health care begin to take shape, including patients looking for “last mile” alternatives and prescription options around choice and services. In order to meet the needs of patients and help unleash the full potential of pharmacy we believe that pharmacies will need to implement more flexible fulfillment models: omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment.
Introducing omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment
When pharmacists are free to fulfill their roles as community health care providers, that’s how we can help unleash the full potential of pharmacy. When we layer on patient choice in the form of fill type and delivery option, this is where we begin to see the need for a flexible centralized prescription fulfillment option — bringing omnichannel fulfillment to the pharmacy setting.
We believe iA’s portfolio of pharmacy fulfillment solutions is set up holistically to address the needs of omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment. We have been inherently addressing this space with over 20 years of focus on pharmacy and advancing the central fill process. This understanding and experience has given us the ability to create technology solutions that have transitioned centralized fulfillment from typically being used for mail order prescriptions to our model, which is to offer flexible pharmacy fulfillment to pharmacies of various sizes. This solution offers pharmacy providers the opportunity to help meet the demands of their patients, by expanding patient choice and delivering convenience to their patients, while also moving workload out of the stores so pharmacists can spend more time on patient care.
This wasn’t an easy task. The truth is, pharmacy fulfillment is complicated. There are multiple dimensions within pharmacy fulfillment to understand: 1) fill type, such as vials, pouches, single’s, unit of use, blister packs, cold packs, and 2) customer expectations around delivery experience, such as pick up from store, kiosk, mail orders or delivery at home. We are continually driven to elevate the pharmacist, to continue to help optimize efficiency and patient safety to ultimately transform the industry overall to focus on the pharmacist-patient relationship.
The essential starting point for omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment: NEXiA
Our solution for omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment starts with NEXiA, our intelligent enterprise pharmacy fulfillment software platform. We identified in our 20 years working in the centralized pharmacy automation space that in order to operate a flexible omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment operation, the need for an integrated software platform that marries prescription acquisition, prior authorization processes, and prescription fulfillment with the last mile delivery technology.
NEXiA is the first step and essential platform that enables iA customers to manage prescription fulfillment while continuously processing prescription orders in real time, identifying and evaluating constraints, and preparing orders to help prescriptions reach patients with optimal speed and efficiency.
NEXiA enables iA customers to examine how they can optimize dispensing to meet the needs and growing demands of their patients. When pharmacy providers free up pharmacists time by removing dispensing from the retail pharmacy setting, it’s the first step toward realizing even more opportunities to transform their pharmacy.
Investigating the application of advanced technologies to further optimize omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment
As found across many industries, advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and cloud can play a strong role in omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment. And data is at the heart of all of it. Sophisticated digital and analytical tools help drive insight and decision making from mountains of information. AI and ML technologies have evolved and largely democratized beyond a limited set of use cases in the last three to five years.
iA continues to work towards taking advantage of these tools. With these tools there is a tremendous opportunity to solve some tough pharmacy fulfilment optimization challenges across various nodes; for example, forward-thinking pharmacies are trying to manage shorter promise time windows across retail, central fill, and delivery processes.
The pandemic and omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment: the opportunity
The pandemic has accelerated the idea of ordering groceries and household goods online and having them delivered to the home or picking them up at the store. The same holds true for pharmacy fulfillment. Regardless if your pharmacy operation is retail, specialty, online or part of a health system, now is the time to adopt omnichannel pharmacy fulfillment if you have not already. Consumerism (I want my purchases delivered the same day or in two-days to the house or to a kiosk) and the economic pressures of health care are driving pharmacies to find lower cost, higher touch strategies to capture additional market share, and ultimately increase patient satisfaction.
We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about where you are on your journey of unleashing the full potential of pharmacy and how iA can work with you to realize its potential.