August 6, 2019
Inside: Discover new ways to integrate technological advances into your independent pharmacy.
As technology continues to advance at a prolific pace, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. Sometimes, it might feel easier to fall back on what you know instead of spending money on new technology that you then have to learn how to use.
However, if you use tech right, your business will be more efficient and make more money, so don’t let gadget fatigue scare you away.
Use some of these creative ways to start implementing technology in your pharmacy today.
When you hear “artificial intelligence,” you might think of replicants or Siri, but AI can actually help you accomplish your everyday business tasks more efficiently.
The fast-growing, ever-changing universe of AI isn’t just limited to big companies, and it can help set your independent pharmacy apart. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems help to track the way patients shop in your pharmacy. Adding AI technology into the mix can help you maximize your marketing dollars by identifying trends and encouraging you to follow up with your best customers.
You can also add AI smarts to improve your customer service. Chatbots have come a long way in the past few years, and now they are advanced enough to become your little robotic assistant. Having a chatbot on your website can help field out simple questions so you have more time to concentrate on more complex issues.
You can’t be at the pharmacy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are still using a landline phone for the business, you could be missing out. A virtual phone line adds a phone number without requiring a new, physical phone—giving you all the abilities of a traditional phone, plus additional benefits.
Most virtual phone services give you the ability to perform pharmacy business on your cell phone without revealing your personal phone number.
Many also feature customization options to make sure you are getting everything you need from a phone line—faxing, voicemail, automated attendants, hold music, and more. Plus, virtual phone lines are often more cost-efficient than your cable company’s phone plan.
Adding new tech to your pharmacy can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Open source software can bring you technologically up to date for little to no money.
Open source software are applications available on the internet that are provided at or completely free. These programs can be modified by users and can be more thoroughly vetted and more secure than traditional for-profit software.
Instead of purchasing an expensive proprietary software, you can use free open source programs created specifically for running a business. Ledger or GnuCash can help you master your accounting, for example, while WallacePOS is an open source alternative for point-of-sale systems.
Using open source programs does come with a few disadvantages, like lack of support if things go sideways, so be sure to do your research on each individual program before implementing it in your pharmacy.
Your possessions are getting smarter every day, and tech experts now believe that anything that can be connected will become connected. When you control your coffee maker with your cell phone or turn the lights on and off by talking to your Alexa, that’s known as the Internet of Things.
By investing in IoT technology for your pharmacy, you can run your business in the smartest way possible. The upfront cost of transitioning to IoT enabled security, climate controls, and other sensors may be higher than keeping what you currently have, but it will give you data that was inaccessible before, making your pharmacy more efficient.
You probably use some sort of software to manage your finances, but there’s a chance it could be more efficient. There are now expense report programs that completely automate the process.
Most only require you to snap a picture of a receipt, and then an expense is created immediately. Not only does it save you time, it lets you get an easy, birds-eye view of your finances so you can make smarter decisions about your budget.
As a savvy small business owner, you probably have multiple social media channels to communicate with your patients. But if you’re posting on your Facebook, Twitter, and other accounts individually, you might find yourself staring at a screen during precious time you could be spending with patients.
Social media dashboards like Hootsuite and Buffer streamline your social media posting. They allow you to schedule posts on multiple platforms, review analytics, and interact with all of your accounts on a single website. You’ll have a better understanding of which posts are working, which aren’t, and how best to interact with your patients online.
Onboarding new employees and then maintaining their payroll and benefits as they work in your pharmacy can be a logistical nightmare, which is why you should be using an HR software.
These programs put job applications, work schedules, time off requests, payroll, benefits information, and more all in one place, centralizing your human resources. They are available at a variety of price points, so you can get a program with the features you need the most at a cost that fits your budget.
Though some might complain that technology isolates us, you can use it to increase your team members’ involvement with the pharmacy and with each other.
Webinars can get everyone clued in about what’s going on in the pharmaceutical industry even if you can’t afford to send everyone to the latest conference.
You can also pair the pharmacy’s technology with team building activities that require your team to interact with each other, creating a sense of camaraderie and boosting morale when they go back to their daily tasks.
In addition to safely storing your files, they are also an excellent way to collaborate with your team. Share your marketing materials with your employees to get everyone’s input, and work together to find creative solutions.
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy side of their business. The company is an independently owned pharmacy services organization based in Kansas City, Mo., that serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, expert contract negotiations, distribution services, and more.
PBA Health, an HDA member, operates its own VAWD-certified warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products.
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