With pharmacy margins shrinking due to declining reimbursement rates and rising operational costs, you may be looking for ways to realize new efficiencies. One of the biggest ways to do more with your existing staff is by introducing automation into your pharmacy. This allows your existing clinical team to participate in value-adding activities for patients, while the robot handles more routine prescription fills.
But where do you start? Or how do you even know if you’re ready for automation? We spoke with some of the pharmacists on our team to highlight three key questions you should consider if you’re thinking about adding automation to your pharmacy.
1. How many scripts are you filling per day?
At around 150 scripts per day, you should start seriously thinking about automation and how it could help you realize more efficiency within your existing pharmacy operation. There are numerous options on the market, so this is a good time to start doing your research. When you hit 200 scripts per day, you can start executing on the plans you have made and see the ROI from this technology.
2. Are you missing opportunities to add value because your staff is busy counting pills?
It’s no secret that we don’t go to pharmacy school to learn how to count, so why are your in-house pharmacists spending so much of their time counting pills? Instead of spending their time on menial tasks, what could your staff be doing with their time that would better utilize their skills and training? You can grow by adding additional resources and staff, or you can invest in products that help offset these resources and optimize your existing staff’s time.
3. Are you ensuring the highest level of accuracy and safety in your pharmacy?
Even for the BEST pharmacist, mistakes happen. Human error is inevitable. Adding automation to your pharmacy can ensure the utmost level of accuracy in your vial filing to prevent mix-ups or miscounts.
Staffing Considerations & Getting Started
Once you’ve decided you need automation, you may be wondering where to begin. First, look at your existing staff and their functions. Is there an opportunity to have some of them specialize in specific services? Can you add additional clinical programs if you can free up some of your staff’s time? Knowing what other areas will be affected is a good place to start planning.
Adding automation can also streamline your training process for new employees if you do decide to grow. Rather than training someone on 45 different tasks, you may find you want to hire a tech to run the robot during an extra shift – scaling up your volume while adding only minimal resources. Instead of training this person on all the functions of your pharmacy, you can train them on the five tasks to run the automated device. Splitting up your team into specific job functions vs. having everyone do everything can help realize additional efficiencies within your current team.
Automated Solutions to Get Started
Parata offers the most complete portfolio medication automation of solutions on the market – and we have something for pharmacy operations at every size and scale. Below are a few of the most popular solutions for pharmacies for vial filling automation.
Max 2 offers the highest accuracy, speed, and output available – at the lowest cost per prescription. The two-sided design separates inventory and dispensing. Max 2 continues to run while you replenish vials, caps, and drugs. Max 2’s low-touch operation is largely attributed to its ability to label, cap, and stack filled vials. An internal camera captures an image of every filled vial for easy verification and record-keeping. Intelligent software enables on-demand, accurate cell calibration on-site – no guesswork, no matter the operator – avoiding costs and delays of cell exchanges. Color-coded LED lights provide visual cues to let you know when to replenish vials, caps, and labels – before you run out.
Max Lite offers industry-standard accuracy, speed, and output. The two-sided design separates inventory and dispensing. Max Lite continues to run while you replenish vials, caps, and drugs. Max Lite’s low-touch operation is largely attributed to its ability to cap and sort filled vials. An internal camera captures an image of every filled vial for easy verification and record-keeping.
Small Footprint, Big Impact: Mini was designed to be compact and efficient. With a footprint of just over six square feet, Mini automates up to 30 percent of your total volume. Barcode scanning ensures a match between the stock bottle a cell. Drug chutes are locked until an authorized user scans a barcode on the prescription label. Option locking cells boost maximize safety and prevent diversion.