3 Key Pharmacy Trends that Will Continue into 2022 and Beyond
The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted much longer than anyone first anticipated and changed how we function as a society. As a result, it has impacted many businesses and industries, and the pharmacy industry is no exception. As we prepare for yet another new year with the effects of COVID-19 lingering, here are three key pharmacy trends that industry experts predict will continue in 2022 and beyond:
Growing Consumer Trust and Reliance on Pharmacists
When the pandemic was at its height, conflicting health information was constantly being broadcast to the public. Consumers were desperate for information from industry experts they could trust. As a result, many turned to local doctors and pharmacists. For example, a CoverMyMeds Patient Survey found that due to the pandemic, 27 percent of patients started relying more on their pharmacist for information regarding their conditions and medications.
It isn’t unusual for pharmacists to be used as a source of information by the public, as public polls like Gallup consistently rank pharmacists highly for professional honesty and ethics. But, with so much unrest and misinformation about COVID-19, the demand for pharmacists’ professional opinions and advice rose to an all-time high. This increased reliance has led 70 percent of pharmacists to feel they have taken on new job responsibilities during the pandemic, making it clear how pivotal pharmacies are in primary care. As a result, pharmacists have started using the internet as a way to interact with clients. Many pharmacists started using live streams to answer general questions or inform patients on the latest stats and news regarding the pandemic.
Additionally, many pharmacies have started to rely on the internet to communicate with patients in an official manner thanks to the emergence of telepharmacy. Telehealth claim lines increased by more than 3,550% from August 2019 to August 2020. While experts predicted that telehealth would eventually take on a significant role in our healthcare system, COVID-19 advanced the adoption of virtual care by many years in just a matter of months. It has become a reliable medium to deliver the convenience of virtual care from pharmacists that customers trust.
Direct-to-Patient Drug Sales and Mailed Medications
Due to public health and safety, a dramatic rise in eCommerce has rapidly changed how consumers shop—making it challenging to generate adequate foot traffic in pharmacies. This change in consumer behavior has caused the public to rely more on online ordering and delivery. Pharmacies again felt the heat as their technology struggled to keep up with the need for social distance.
As of March 2020, mail-order prescriptions rose 21 percent from the previous year. As a result, many businesses began providing mail-order and home delivery services to their customers in order to meet the new demand for prescription orders. For example, Sam’s Club and DoorDash partnered to offer first-of-its-kind, same-day pharmaceutical delivery. Also, other medication management technology like PillPack by Amazon Pharmacy and DivvyDose have become more accessible and continue to grow with public adoption.
However, the mail-order pharmacy trend is not replacing local pharmacies. A study by public policy polling found 85 percent of patients prefer getting prescription drugs from a local pharmacist instead of a mail-order service. With high demand for both traditional and mail-order prescriptions it’s best to ensure your pharmacy can keep up with emerging technology trends while still providing top-notch in-store customer experiences.
Greater Awareness of Inventory Management and Order Prediction
For decades, Just in Time (JIT) inventory has allowed pharmacies to increase inventory turnover and improve cash flow by ordering products just before the supply runs out. The pandemic brought about supply chain issues where customers were receiving 90-day prescription refills and buying in bulk to reduce shopping visits, and an already strained supply chain had trouble keeping up. This is where pharmacy owners turned to advanced inventory management systems with sophisticated algorithms to quickly adjust safe stock levels, reorder points and supplier lead times to quickly shift to a more resilient inventory strategy.
In 2019, pre-pandemic, 90-day refills were something pharmacies struggled with as many patients would jump around from pharmacy to pharmacy for refills or not refill their prescription at all. The need to monitor and manage those refills is demanding enough, but when inventory management is added into the equation, pharmacists need to rely on their point of sale (POS) systems to keep track of everything. With the right technology POS solution and integration managing refills and inventory can be combined actions, reducing the time needed to manage these aspects of pharmacy operations.
As a result, many pharmacies started relying on in-house technology and machine learning to manage automatic reordering and patient fulfillment monitoring. By collecting data from their POS, pharmacies can estimate medication demand, allowing staff to plan accordingly with manufacturers and suppliers. With an up-to-date POS system and integrated inventory management features, your pharmacy can use algorithms to track customer trends and data to ensure minimal over-ordering and stock-outs occur. Thus, avoiding expired products and saving you valuable shelf space.
These three growing pharmacy trends have impacted and changed the industry dramatically. Many of these changes are affecting the pharmacy industry for the better, which is why it is vital to keep your pharmacy up-to-date with the ever-changing technology.
Auto-Star can help make some of these changes easier to manage with their advanced pharmacy POS technology. If you’re ready to discuss your options to get the technology to help your pharmacy thrive, contact Auto-Star today!