As the year comes to a close, take some time to reflect on your pharmacy’s strategies and processes. What areas can you grow and improve? There are always ways to make processes more efficient, improve revenue streams and deliver more value to patients. As you look to 2019, use the ideas below, taken from recent Pharmacist to Pharmacist interviews. They can help you improve your pharmacy’s operational, financial and clinical processes.

1. Automate time-intensive tasks

If you’re still doing many time-consuming tasks manually at your pharmacy, a new year offers new opportunities for automation. Automating manual tasks will free up your staff to spend more time with patients. This can both improve clinical outcomes and bring in more revenue. It can also improve accuracy and speed for processes, like counting pills or managing inventory. Joe Tammaro, VP of sales, discusses this in "Why Automation is the Key to Your Chain Pharmacy’s Success." He says you can use automation to:

  • Take prescription orders
  • Process claims
  • Measure, count and verify prescriptions
  • Manage your inventory
  • Dispense prescriptions
  • Mail prescriptions to your patients

Automating time-intensive tasks will benefit your business, your patients and your staff. And as Tammaro notes, “Automation can scale with you as your prescription volume grows without adding man hours.” Start thinking of which tasks you can automate, and search for pharmacy automation technology to help you achieve it.

2. Identify strategies to increase revenue while lowering costs

In the new year, look for new ways to find financial success at your independent pharmacy. Improving revenue while lowering costs is the ideal equation, but it can be easier said than done, especially while trying to add more value to the patient experience. In the new year, look for innovative strategies that can help you provide more to your patients while keeping costs down. In "How to Improve Revenue at Your Independent Pharmacy," Robin Page, regional franchise director for Health Mart, offers these tips:

  • Offer more to each patient. Suggest nutritional supplements or other over-the-counter items. Offer flu vaccines. Each patient who comes through your door can benefit from your expertise, but it’s up to you to seize those opportunities.
  • Control labor costs. Reorganize inefficient workflows to reduce labor costs. As Page notes, it’s not about getting rid of staff, but about “matching staffing levels to your workload.” This means having the right number of people working at all times. If people aren’t being productive, consider what additional duties they can take on, or whether or not they need to be on the clock.
  • Manage inventory better. Rethink inventory management to avoid stock that sits on your shelves for weeks and months. Consider next-day delivery to decrease your on-hand inventory and reduce operating expenses.

Finding new revenue streams through additional offerings is a win-win for you and your patients. And when you can control labor and inventory costs, you’re both saving money and using your resources more efficiently.

3. Focus on patient care

In today’s competitive marketplace, more and more pharmacists are expanding their roles as providers. If your pharmacy hasn’t considered this yet, now is the time. You can be spending more one-on-one time with everyone who walks through your door. In "Why the Future of Your Independent Pharmacy Depends on Patient Care," Mark DeWoskin, regional franchise director for Health Mart, offers suggestions. He says there are new services you can offer your patients and new ways to help you spend more time on their care:

  • Medication therapy management or counseling. When a patient comes in to pick up their prescriptions, you can counsel them on potential side effects. You can also address other health concerns they may have.
  • Point-of care testing and health screenings. From blood pressure monitoring to cholesterol screenings, these tests give you a chance to screen at-risk patients. If you spot something, you can talk to them about treatment options.
  • Disease management services. Consider offering disease management services such as nutritional counseling for diabetic patients.

In the year ahead, find new services that set you apart from the pack. By offering more to patients, you provide value they might not find at other pharmacies. Rather than seeing your pharmacy as just a place to collect their prescriptions, they’ll come to see you as a trusted part of their care.

4. Get more from your pharmacy management system

In the new year, unlock the potential of something you already have: your pharmacy management system (PMS). In "Making Technology Work Harder for Your Retail Chain Pharmacy," Steve Petrozzi, senior director of account management, explains how to maximize your system to see better financial and clinical success. Use your pharmacy management system to:

  • Remove barriers to adherence. Your PMS can tell you when patients aren’t taking their drugs. This can help you ask why. Is it the drug’s cost? Or its side effects? You can then take steps to overcome those barriers, leading to better patient outcomes.
  • Generate more revenue. Simply put, when you have higher adherence rates, you’re filling more prescriptions. Plus, higher adherence rates mean lower direct and indirect remuneration (DIR) fees. This adds up to more revenue for your pharmacy.
  • Flag patients who may need other clinical services. Your PMS can keep track of pertinent patient data such as their age, medication history and disease state. When a patient picks up a prescription, your PMS can tell you what they may need based on this data. Maybe they need an age-based vaccine or a blood pressure check.

Make the most of your pharmacy management system and you’ll see better financial success and better patient outcomes.

5. Find new ways to be efficient

We all want to get more done in less time without sacrificing quality. For pharmacists, that means improving operational efficiency. In "Why Efficiency is Crucial to Your Independent Pharmacy’s Success," Steven Oh, regional director of pharmacy performance for Health Mart Atlas, shares how to improve operational performance—which boosts patient care.

  • Standardize your work processes. Everyone at your pharmacy should have specific roles and responsibilities. They should also follow the same processes on a consistent basis. When everyone is on the same page, you cut down on training time and increase productivity.
  • Maximize your talent. Use your staff in the right way. There are many tasks your pharmacists perform that your technicians can do instead, like filling prescriptions. This leaves your pharmacists free to spend more time with patients.
  • Track performance. If you don’t know how you’re doing, you won’t know how to improve. Use your PMS or other platforms to track your performance. Flag areas for improvement.

Each of these points can help you work more efficiently and accurately, benefiting your entire staff and each patient you treat.

As you look ahead to 2019, use these tips to keep your pharmacy financially, operationally and clinically successful. With a few small shifts, you can get more from your technology, employees and resources to deliver better patient care and stay competitive.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s services and technology offerings for pharmacies

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McKesson editorial staff is committed to sharing innovative approaches and insights so our customers can get the most out of their business solutions and identify areas for operational improvement and revenue growth.

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