COVID-19 has had a major impact on the healthcare industry, especially in the pharmaceutical space.
Drug availability, healthcare infrastructure, and patient behavior have all changed in ways that are predicted to last long after the days of the current pandemic.
When it comes to infrastructure, healthcare IT and online databases have always been weak points for hospitals and pharmacies. With healthcare systems relying more on virtual collaboration due to the pandemic, COVID-19 highlighted the need for better-connected IT in the pharmacy. For example, when a pharmacy administers a COVID vaccine, that information must be documented in a shared database and communicated to authorities.
Having disparate IT systems that do not easily exchange information makes it harder for pharmacists to work together. Even simple tasks like sending prescription requests to GPs become a hassle, further stressing the already overburdened pharmacist. You cannot expect your pharmacists to efficiently collaborate with each other when they are regularly inconvenienced by faxes, phone calls and other administrative responsibilities. Inadequate IT systems also make it harder for pharmacists to get the information they need on a patient, which is crucial if they are going to play a bigger role in primary care.
Increasing the investment in IT infrastructure and IT consulting has implications for pharmacy cash flow, especially for smaller retail pharmacies. Added to this is the unprofitable time required for training pharmacy techs and ironing out the inevitable wrinkles of implementation. To remain profitable, pharmacy managers need to consider opportunities for improving their business footing with a focus on the following:
- The increasing role of pharmacies
- Future-proofing operations
- Increasing patient confidence
- Leveraging data and patient behavior
- Achieving higher returns from reverse distribution
We’ve addressed these issues in our guide, “COVID and Cash Flow Handbook, How to Protect Your Pharmacy from Financial Fallout.”