The origins of the online pharmacy concept dates back to the 19th century. Surprising, isn’t it? Back during those days, mail-order patient medicines were in use and hence, started the concept of “be anywhere, get your medicines to be delivered to your doorsteps” . Due to the increased number of unauthentic cures, strict regulations were imposed which gradually reduced the frequency of mail-orders.
Cut to 1999, a statutory body called NABP set up Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) to ensure authentic and secure online transfer of medicines. In this program, only reputed online pharmacies had the privilege of obtaining a safe website registration with the domain ‘.pharmacy.’
History of Pharmacy Automation
It cannot be exactly called automation, but the idea emerged when the manual task of counting the tablets became cumbersome and error-filled. Around 1970, the Kirby brothers thought of inventing the counting machine to tackle this problem. This machine was later enhanced to even facilitate bottle-filling abilities.
A proper introduction of technology to the pharmaceutical industry began around 2000 with the invention of a software verification system. Also, there was a database system to track the prescriptions detected by the counting machine. Around 2007, many companies started showing their interest in the advancement of online pharmacyand invested in the same, hence allowing advance R&D in this field.
How does Pharmacy automation work?
Pharmacy automation involves comprehensive management software that ensures efficient stock management, drug dispense, finance management, QA/QC, etc. These processes are mostly automated hence, reducing human efforts and errors and provides real-time based results. Pharmacy automation also helps to optimise the marketing and sales of online pharmacy enterprises, ensuring overall growth. The current trend in pharmacy automation is omnichannel customer experience.
Functions of Omnichannel Pharmacy automation
There is a diverse range of pharmacy automation methods designed keeping in mind the sensitivity of the industry. There have been so many fatal instances due to different kinds of error in providing the right medication. These errors can vary from the incorrect count of prescribed medicines or late delivery, and this happens due to the lack of supporting staff. Hence, this pressure forced the pharmaceutical industry to opt for automation technology.
Some functions of omnichannel pharmacy automation are:
- It is used to dispense prescribed medication and intimate the customers to collect the same.
- It is used to count, label, and pack the tablets accurately.
- It is used to track the inventory and provide real-time updates regarding the stock.
- Decode the patient’s information present in different forms like mobile phones, documented forms, etc., and enter the details in the database.
- It sometimes can provide information related to the side effects or dangerous effects (if any) of the prescribed medication facilitating necessary precaution in advance.
Why Omnichannel Pharmacy automation?
Over the years, pharmacy automation has advanced over several levels. Some benefits of opting for omnichannel pharmacy automation are:
1. Increased accuracy
As mentioned before, one reason for a fatal instance can be a misinterpretation of dosages and counts. The best way to tackle this issue is by shifting to an automation system that can help you understand the right quantities. There can be cases where patients might order their medicines online, but the stock might be unavailable in the nearest store which causes inaccuracy. Hence, having an accurate omni channel platform will assist in ensuring effective order management.
2. Improved patient experience
Automation helps to dispense the medications quickly by continuously monitoring the end-to-end process. This helps patients to avoid long queues to collect their medicines. Also, with the help of automation, patients now have the comfort of contacting their pharmacists to get a better understanding of their medication in a hassle-free way. From order placements to order delivery, omnichannel e-commerce in the pharmaceutical industry will ensure end-to-end order fulfilment.
3. Reduced labour costs
Most of the repetitive tasks like counting, packing, etc., are the real culprits behind increased labour expenses. By opting automation, all these tasks can be taken care of, leading to a drastic reduction in labour costs. Especially for small and medium pharmacies, having omnichannel retail software greatly helps in overall economic growth.
4. Improved productivity
In continuation from the above point, small retail pharmacies might have a limited labour force. Handling end-to-end activities only by them will result in labour exhaustion and productivity drastically reduces. Having an efficient selling platform online with automating capabilities will assist in handling monotonous tasks; hence, pharmacists can work on other tasks that need immediate attention or any other complex issues. This way, you can ensure optimum productivity of your labours.
5. Improved inventory tracking
By choosing automation, it helps you holistically understand how your inventory performs. From providing real-time updates of the stock of different medicines to providing insights regarding fast-running/highly preferred medicines, it helps you to improve the overall efficiency of inventory.
6. Improved safety
Unlike manual cases where there are high chances of cross-contamination or duplication, automation ensures to dispense the right medication ensuring a high level of safety which is mandatory in pharmacies.
7. Reduced medical waste
Medical wastes are underrated concerns as it has drastic effects which can be unseen or unknown. Hence, it is every pharmacist’s duty to ensure the reduction of medical waste as even with precautionary disposal, the effects still persist. One of the efficient ways to reduce medical waste drastically is to opt for automation-based tracking. This gives you insights regarding the products that expire soon, enabling you to take appropriate decisions on inventory management.
8. Continuous insights to improve the website
Apart from optimising the pharmacy products side, automation also helps you to improve your website by giving you continuous insights based on customer feedbacks, past data, etc.
9. Reduced time
As all the repetitive tasks are handled by automation, pharmacists will have ample breathing time as well as time to think of any further implementations or enhancements to improve their patient experience.
10. Saviour during emergencies
Emergencies in the medical field are common and no matter how prepared you are, you might find yourself in critical situations like scarcity of medicines, immediate requirement of a rare cure, information related to the availability of pharmacists or doctors, etc. Including automation in your enterprise will enable patients by giving accurate information related to the medications. This way, it acts as a lifesaver in such emergency situations.
While there are many industries choosing automation and are successful, Pharmaceutical industries are not left behind in this and are trying to gain more insightful decisions by interacting with their customers more effectively and proactively.
Digitization has made it easy for varied stakeholders viz., patients, doctors, HMOs, Pharmacies to gather information through omnichannel marketing to streamline their operations and make it more efficient.
Pharma and Life Sciences are looking forward to an Omnichannel approach, a perfect combination of channels, communication, and processes. The standardization and integrity of the content helps to give a personalized experience to consumers. Invenzo Labs’ Izoleap platform is designed to help pharma and life sciences companies go down the path of creating seamless omnichannel e-commerce experience to its customers.