Pharmacy Tech-Data Related Predictions for 2022

Automation to support medication management, use of AI, and increased recognition of pharmacists as providers all likely lie ahead for 2022.

Pharmacy Tech-Data Related Predictions for 2022

Pharmacy Tech-Data Related Predictions for 2022 800 500 Parata

Every year, we make our best predictions for the future of pharmacy based on the successes of our customers, colleagues, industry leaders, and the state of our payors and reimbursement structures. 2020 and 2021 created an unprecedented acceleration for every pharmacy vertical – retail, chain, and health system. It also solidified our priorities – the need to increase access, protect our staff, prevent egregious burnout, and, probably most important, make sure that our most redundant, yet critical, task of accurately filling and dispensing medications becomes automatic.

At this point in time, it’s evident that there will be no return to the 2019 way of working. However, we’re confident that we will find less ambiguity and more than silver linings. Read on for our forecast of how the last two years have redefined the one ahead, as it pertains to our roles as pharmacists, business owners, and as pillars of healthcare for our communities.

Mail Order Pharmacy Becomes the Norm

As pharmacists and technicians become frontline care providers, either through vaccine and booster administration, or newly reimbursable clinical initiatives, lines in the pharmacy for prescription pick-up will likely be on the decline. The increase of ease in administering mail-order programs, both for one-time prescriptions or for maintenance medications, across a variety of care settings, could become status quo.

Medication management tools, like med sync and strategies that utilize adherence packing, will be a requirement for managing at home, health system, and long-term care patients in a way that is safe, while ensuring a bottom line. Whether your pharmacy opts for blister card or pouch packaging, offering this service is a simple way to increase customer loyalty and guarantee that medications are filled on-time.

These are straightforward solutions for cutting down on inventory and supply chain complications that cost your organization time and resources. Offering them can increase your attractiveness to payers, LTC facilities, or other settings where prepackaged prescriptions ease med-pass tasks and decrease rates of error. Implementing these tools will no longer be “nice to haves” – but rather the only way to successfully maintain viable pharmacy business in ‘22 and beyond.

prescription delivery

More Time Will Be Required for Growth of Clinical Initiatives

As mentioned above, less time at the pick-up window means more time for other initiatives that can grow and sustain your business or health system. While CMS reimburses pharmacies for most immunization services, those with provider status have an expanded group of ICD codes for which they can bill services. Dwindling DIR fees and increasingly confusing reimbursement models mean that your ability to offer and execute on these services as a pharmacy becomes a necessary means of keeping doors open. Advocacy groups have made access to provider status a top priority. Still, medication reviews, health screenings, and disease management support are just a few of these areas where reimbursements are possible and should be pursued.

However, researching, understanding, and applying these reimbursements take time – which is why it’s important to make sure your baseline responsibilities of filling and dispensing medications are requiring the least heavy lifting. As technology for filling and packing medications becomes more scalable, even the smallest community pharmacies can afford (and financially benefit) from the implementation of packing robots. For chains or health systems, central fill centers can be the answer to a cost-effective means of distributing mail-order medications and mitigating supply chain issues across a range of locations within a geography. Long story short – if you’re not already, you can’t afford not to automate.

The Power of AI will be Unleashed

Thanks to machine learning algorithms, cloud-based systems, and other artificial intelligence innovations, pharmacies can begin to realize operational efficiencies and improved patient safety practices and care delivery. The data analysis that has traditionally been subject to months of paperwork and dispensing reviews can now be quick and accurate thanks to the power of AI.

The decrease in time spent on data review and associated paperwork will lead to gains for pharmacy staff. Automation and the data analysis that comes with it means that pharmacists and technicians will be able to move out from behind the counter and become focused on providing care – something that, to many of them, is considerably more fulfilling (and profitable).

pharmacists covid19

Pharmacy Finally “Catches Its Breath”

Make no mistake – 2022 will continue to bring staffing and supply chain challenges. As we continue to experience labor shortages and an ever-increasing demand for vaccine services, pharmacy leadership will be pressed to retain quality employees and expand clinical initiatives, leaving even less time for filling prescriptions. For those ready to embrace innovation and technology, there’s no looking back when it comes to transforming the pharmacy practice.

While some pharmacies are still getting up to speed – an understandable dilemma given the events of the past 24 months – many are innovating for the future. Dispensing medications in the background – while keeping staff happy and customers satisfied is the future of pharmacy. Those ready to transform will not only enjoy reigniting the joy that pharmacists once felt for their careers but will afford them the time to make a meaningful difference in the lives of their patients. With real forward thinking and a commitment to innovation they can be home in time for dinner, too.

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