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What is pharmacy fulfillment?

Feb 1, 2022 | Blogs

By: Alecia Lashier, Chief Solutions Architect

One of the first questions I get when I sit down with a pharmacy to talk is “Why call it central fulfillment rather than central fill?” 

For me, central fill is just one part of a mature pharmacy fulfillment automation integration. Central fill accomplishes a lot and is a major and necessary component of pharmacy fulfillment. But pharmacy fulfillment is more than just central fill.  

Pharmacy fulfillment as a holistic approach. 

Pharmacy fulfillment is the holistic view of all of the processes that inform filling a prescription. Pharmacy fulfillment examines not only the where, but also the how and when of providing patients with their medications and therapies on a regular basis. When iA works with our customers to fully consider all of the benefits of pharmacy fulfillment, we find that we can talk with our customers about how pharmacy fulfillment can help deliver improved patient choice and also can improve medication adherence. We also talk about how pharmacy fulfillment can help optimize the cost to fill and redistribute unspecialized dispensing activity. 

This conversation then closes with an examination of how much time can be created to enable their pharmacists to focus on and provide higher value services.

Pharmacy fulfillment is the way for pharmacies of all sizes and types to navigate the complexities of the demands driving the next generation of pharmacy.  

As is the case with each pharmacy’s business model, a pharmacy’s fulfillment strategy is likely to be unique to their pharmacy. The services provided, the network they cover, and delivery options they choose to provide will depend on the strategic objectives of the business.

For most pharmacies, when iA works with them to deploy a central fill model, a focus is moving about 40 to 60% of prescriptions, and the related inventory, into a central fill. Central fill locations are created by a pharmacy and are usually largely informed by what’s needed to optimize the delivery network of their respective coverage area. Site volumes vary greatly and are informed by demand and can vary from 4,000 prescriptions a shift to more than 50,000 prescriptions a shift, depending on the number of patients cared for. Once prescriptions are ready for delivery, the choice is up to each iA customer – this includes through a courier network, through the  pharmacy’s wholesale delivery network, or via mail.

Once the central fill model is adopted, the fulfillment strategy can be rounded out by adding specialty services such as pouch packaging and providing add-on options such as over-the-counter purchases, medical supply distribution, or customized packaging.  

iA then works with our customers to continue to analyze and optimize performance across their central fill network. This leads to the incorporation of intelligent routing software to optimize distribution work and is informed by configurable business rules such as availability of inventory, services, cost to fill, and delivery. Finally, another opportunity to help reduce cost to fill includes examining the value of additional centralized services, such as centralized pharmacist verification.

Pharmacy fulfillment really is the continuous improvement operating approach for pharmacy. The analytics iA’s pharmacy fulfillment solutions create for iA customers is really the foundation for the blueprint that enables an iA pharmacy to begin the personalized journey to realize the true potential of unleashing the full potential of pharmacy.


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