August 8, 2013
In your pharmacy, the computer is probably the one tool you use more than anything else. This multi-purpose machine is responsible for keeping your daily workflow smooth. But without the right computer system, it doesn’t do much to help your day-to-day operations.
You need a computer system that works well and is easy-to-use. The right system can also be the difference between happy and unhappy patients. Whether you’re thinking about switching to a different pharmacy computer system or are currently faced with the task of choosing a pharmacy computer system for the first time, you have several important elements to consider.
Before you even consider the basic components of what you want from a pharmacy computer system, you need to think about your pharmacy and the business plan you have in place. Do you plan to expand and open more locations? What kind of pharmacy do you run currently? Have you thought about opening a different sort of facility, such as a long-term care pharmacy or a location focused on home medical equipment?
Once you have determined the scope of your business needs, you can start consulting your staff on their technological abilities. If your pharmacy techs are also tech-savvy, they’re likely comfortable with computers, but other employees might need more training.
First, you’ll want to spend time consulting with possible vendors. “You want to find more of a partner, not just a vendor,” said Heath Reynolds, director of business development for Speed Script, a pharmacy management systems and services provider. Knowing that your software provider is readily available for questions, concerns, issues, and training is as important as actually purchasing the software.
“It doesn’t matter how good the software program is if you’re not able to get help when you need it, which is why we’ve got representatives available 24/7,” said Reynolds. “We’re always asking pharmacies what we can do to help them out and availability is usually a top priority.”
If you’re considering switching pharmacy software out of frustration, think about re-opening the lines of communication between your pharmacy and your vendor first. An in-store training session or an upgrade of your existing system may be a wiser choice than a complete overhaul. However, if you’ve weighed the pros and cons and have decided to switch, here are a few things to consider.
Computer system vendors sell their software in many different ways. Some allow customers to purchase individual functions, such as workflow modules or barcode verification scanners. Other vendors sell their software in tiers or levels of components. Many pharmacies opt to purchase all-inclusive packages. While you may not use every function that the system offers, you may find a use for it in the future (and have an opportunity to expand your business, too). While you’re typically able to purchase a system and services at yearly rates, some vendors allow month-to-month plans as well.
One of the most important things you need to do before you switch, upgrade or modify your system is determine how seamlessly your data will convert. Knowing how much information will transfer and how much you will need to reconcile with your patients is important as you prepare to make a switch. Print simple signage or alert your patients using social media, email or phone calls about your transition to a new system.
Patience will be a virtue with your staff, too. Take time to familiarize yourself with the system and allow your technicians and front-end staff ample time to familiarize themselves with the new system. Be sure to take advantage of the in-store training that many vendors offer.
“The independent pharmacies that are doing well aren’t working harder, they’re working smarter,” said Reynolds. “If a pharmacy isn’t using technology to get ahead and streamline its business, it’s losing customers.” The right pharmacy software can provide added value for your patients. Whether through online refills or transactions that are as quick and efficient as a few strokes, your pharmacy software can help your business run even better.