In a bid to increase efficiency, pharmacies are adopting digital technologies to automate their operations and decrease overhead expenses. The main goal behind going digital is to eliminate inefficiencies in the workflow and reduce reliance on manual work and repeated paperwork. Automation of pharmacy operations aims to increase competitiveness and improve patient care.
Adoption of digital technologies is seen as a necessity to transform the healthcare industry. One article in McKinsey indicated to the Indian companies to ride the wave of digital adoption to facilitate consumer demand, “Indian consumers have strongly embraced digital technologies. Now India’s companies must follow suit.”
A pharmacy store needs to maintain many internal processes like billing, purchase, store maintenance, order details, customer details, and employee details, which can be a tedious task to perform regularly. Regularly maintaining all this paperwork is exhaustive. Apart from this, whenever someone wants to conduct a review or audit, things get even more complicated. That is why the digitization of pharmacies is gaining more and more traction every day.
India is one of the first countries to adopt digital health records (DHRs) as this 2019 report by Royal Philips establishes: 76% of healthcare professionals in India are already using digital health records in their practice.
Why digitize the pharmacy store?
To better understand why digitization of your pharmacy store is necessary, let us briefly see the daily operations associated with running a pharmacy shop and how digitization can improve them.
Maintaining the Ambient Atmosphere:
When it comes to sensitive medicines, it is essential to maintain them at a specific temperature because storage conditions affect the quality of medicines. Constantly checking their temperature and maintaining it at a specified level is practically impossible to do manually.
Pharmacies can employ automated electronic devices that maintain ambiance at predefined levels all the time and give SMS to the registered mobile number in case of any malfunction or power cut. This will make sure that sensitive medicines don’t get exposed to higher temperatures. Some wireless sensors with built-in microchips can provide real-time temperature values also.
Pharmacies need to constantly check the inventory and place purchase orders of low-stock medicines to ensure that all required medicines are of sufficient stock. Doing this process manually risks running low on life-saving medications. By going digital, pharmacies can see the stock of medicines and place and approve purchase orders.
Order Management: Fulfilling an order successfully involves many steps. From taking new orders, deciding whether a prescription is necessary or not, verifying a prescription, delivering the medicine to the customer, and finally to collect the payment. Digitizing this process will increase your overall efficiency.
After an order is delivered successfully, the pharmacy store needs to generate a valid bill for that order. Preparing a hand-written bill is tiring and doesn’t give insight into the remaining stock. Instead, if the billing is done by an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, it provides deep insights into remaining stock, most selling products, revenue generation, and much more.
Point of Sale (POS):
Losses suffered due to the expiry of medicines grows in proportion to the size of your pharmacy store. POS systems offer convenient billing mechanisms. POS integrates with an ERP software or eCommerce platform seamlessly. By assigning staff ID to your employees and integrating it with POS, you can keep track of orders handled by them and assess their performance.
Digitizing management of employee details, their attendance, leaves, and salary will streamline the process and make onboarding of new employees easy.
Analyzing discounts provided by particular vendors, their delivery time, product quality enables you to make an informed choice about selecting and maintaining your relations with a vendor.
When you are dealing with bulk order packaging, you can mark each package with smart labels and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags for easy identification. This makes product sorting easy.
Nowadays, customers are increasingly using online payment methods like Unified Payment Interface (UPI), Debit and Credit Cards, Net banking, etc. The most widely used payment method in India is UPI, as it allows payments simply by scanning the barcode or QR code.
What are the benefits of digitizing the operations of your pharmacy store?
Manual processes have a bigger chance of making mistakes. By digitizing your processes, the risk of errors is significantly reduced.
The automation of manual tasks saves significant time for your employees and allows them to focus on other important tasks.
Digitizing pharmacy operations improves transparency and clearly attributes which task is performed by whom and provides reports and analytics.
What are the steps needed to digitize the pharmacy store?
1. Incorporate Online Pharmacies:
Today the customers are familiar with purchasing their needful items online, and they are purchasing medicines online also because ordering medicines online provides them with plenty of benefits. This is why online medicine selling platforms are on the rise.
To understand the benefits of online pharmacies for customers and pharmacists, refer to our blog on the same.
Incorporating online pharmacy into your existing business is a seamless exercise as it requires minimal infrastructure, and return on investment (ROI) is very huge and almost instant. If you have proficiency in coding, you can do that on your own, but you will need a medicine database to run it properly. To avoid this complexity, all you need to do is contact a company that provides an ePharmacy platform.
2. Use ERP Software:
ERP software integrates many processes of your business in order to simplify it. ERP software streamlines many processes. Let’s try to see how ERP software can help you with your business.
- Do quick billing
- Keep track of expired or soon-to-expire products
- Generate GST bills
- Generate and Maintain records of all prescriptions
- Generate stock reports
3. Utilize IoT Devices:
As mentioned above, IoT devices have plenty to offer in digitizing the operations of your pharmacy store. RFID tags, barcode scanners, and temperature monitoring devices should be integrated into your system to facilitate wireless monitoring.
4. Setup Online Payment Facility:
Provide facility of payment gateway to receive payments from customers online.
So far, we have covered the most important aspects relating to the digitization of pharmacy stores. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution here. You needn’t incorporate all these facilities in your pharmacy store for its digitization; you can choose them according to your requirements.