Pharmacy automation:
top 5 solutions & smart technologies to adopt

Pharmacy automation: top 5 solutions & smart technologies to adopt

January 16, 2024

Pharmacy automation statsistics

pharmacy automation market worth in 2022

Grand View Research, 2022

of pharma and healthcare companies use AI to enhance quality control

Statista, 2020

of pharmacy technicians’ working hours can be freed with AI automation

Statista, 2020

Types of pharmacy automation solutions

Pharmacy automation solutions enable machines to support or even fully carry out certain workflows within healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations. Five major processes are particularly suitable for automation.

Types of pharmacy automation solutions

Storing and dispensing medications are essential operations in any pharmacy. Every drug is handled nearly ten times before reaching the patient, leaving room for error and contamination. For instance, meds can be placed in a storage unit under inappropriate conditions, kept past their expiration date, or dispensed in the wrong quantity. However,  using IoT devices for automating manual operations and inventory management software to keep track of each pharmaceutical item eliminates the possibility of such mistakes. Additionally, robotic devices like pill counters, weights, mixers, and packagers allow pharmacy staff to avoid getting stuck with repetitive actions and take on a more creative role.

Pharmacies typically get pharmaceuticals in bulk from manufacturers and only store and distribute them. However, some patients require unique treatment for their conditions. In such cases, licensed pharmacies create compounds under the doctors’ prescriptions by altering medication ingredients or forms or combining two or more existing drugs into one. Pharmacies must comply with many strict compounding regulations, as this process poses a potential danger to patients. For example, more than 750 people developed fungal infections due to the contamination of compounded drugs in 2012, and this is not an isolated case. Therefore, most pharmacies today prefer to entrust this process to robots that operate with pure substances in a sterile environment. The recipe for a compound is still created by a professional, but the processing and packaging of ingredients are done automatically.
Dispatching mechanisms usually also have packaging and labeling functionality, though some pharmacies prefer to have two different machines for these operations. It makes sense for drugs to be packaged right after they’re retrieved from storage or compounded, bypassing contact with an unsterile environment. Medication can be sealed into blister packs, boxes, sachets, vials, bottles, and other packages. The container is then labeled according to industrial standards. The label usually contains the patient's name, the name of the medicine, dosage, and usage instructions and is printed by a labeling machine.

Patient data input, storage, updates, and transfer include repeated actions that can be automated. Every time a doctor issues an electronic prescription, data is transferred to the pharmacy and checked by the system against the inventory to discover if it’s in stock. Patients, therefore, can check where they can get a particular drug. 

Medical ecommerce apps integration with the pharmacy management software allows auto-input of the information into the system when medication is sold to the patient. This way, online order records are maintained without pharmacists’ intervention. Additionally, the software for inventory and supply management monitors the stock levels for each drug, notifies personnel if it runs low, or can even place an order automatically.

To serve their customers better while also creating a positive working environment for the employees, pharmacies should constantly monitor their performance, analyze feedback from staff and customers, and keep an eye on the pattern changes in common processes. Using specialized analytical software for this purpose is essential, especially when the customer base, turnaround, and the number of employees grow.

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Our pharmacy automation services

Automation is an intricate project that has to be carried out step-by-step and comply with security regulations. Our experienced team can help pharmaceutical companies to go through it as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Consulting

Our experts will help you structure and clarify your business objectives to define which workflows need automation and determine the appropriate tech stack.

Development

We can develop software to support your pharmacy automation strategy from scratch, tune the existing solution to fit your organization better, or integrate it with third-party apps.

Implementation

Our team will integrate pharmacy automation systems of your choice into the larger organizational ecosystem and perform data migration.

Support

We will train your personnel to use the new system, monitor its performance, help to overcome operational issues, and implement upgrades when needed.

Pharmacy automation success stories

TidalHealth improves efficiency with Omnicell compounding services

$66,000

in quarterly savings

TidalHealth

TidalHealth Peninsula Regional, a 266-bed hospital, turned to Omnicell for its IV Compounding Service and a second i.v.STATION compounding robot to increase the number and quality of their premixed compounded sterile products (CSPs). Thanks to automation, TidalHealth was able to boost its production, reduce costs, and improve patient safety over the course of several months.

Pharmaceutical companies enhance drug safety with a mobile app from Itransition

2x

more submitted reports

A UK-based SaaS provider delivering drug safety solutions to top 30 global pharma organizations required a mobile application to be added to its software suite to simplify real-time adverse event reporting for patients and clinicians. Our team delivered a cross-platform mobile application that reduced the time and effort needed for report creation, leading to improved patient outcomes.

An independent pharmacy grew revenue with RxSafe’s solution

$100

profit per patient

RxSafe

McBain Family Pharmacy, an independent retail pharmacy in Michigan, provides its customers with prepackaged prescriptions for easier medication adherence. The manual filling and checking process took too much time and effort and didn’t comply with healthcare regulations. With the RapidPakRx, McBain pharmacy reduced processing time for a single patient from 1 hour to 15 minutes, improved compliance, and significantly reduced labor costs.

Geisinger grows the prescription mail order program with pharmacy automation by McKesson

>24hr

order turnaround time

McKesson

Geisinger, a large healthcare and insurance service provider in Pennsylvania, wanted to expand their capacity for delivering pharmaceutical products to patients by mail while balancing the workload for the employees. McKesson provided the company with an enterprise-level, pharmacy solution that can handle high production volumes and support throughout the implementation and post-implementation phases.

TidalHealth improves efficiency with Omnicell compounding services

$66,000

in quarterly savings

TidalHealth

TidalHealth Peninsula Regional, a 266-bed hospital, turned to Omnicell for its IV Compounding Service and a second i.v.STATION compounding robot to increase the number and quality of their premixed compounded sterile products (CSPs). Thanks to automation, TidalHealth was able to boost its production, reduce costs, and improve patient safety over the course of several months.

Pharmaceutical companies enhance drug safety with a mobile app from Itransition

2x

more submitted reports

A UK-based SaaS provider delivering drug safety solutions to top 30 global pharma organizations required a mobile application to be added to its software suite to simplify real-time adverse event reporting for patients and clinicians. Our team delivered a cross-platform mobile application that reduced the time and effort needed for report creation, leading to improved patient outcomes.

An independent pharmacy grew revenue with RxSafe’s solution

$100

profit per patient

RxSafe

McBain Family Pharmacy, an independent retail pharmacy in Michigan, provides its customers with prepackaged prescriptions for easier medication adherence. The manual filling and checking process took too much time and effort and didn’t comply with healthcare regulations. With the RapidPakRx, McBain pharmacy reduced processing time for a single patient from 1 hour to 15 minutes, improved compliance, and significantly reduced labor costs.

Geisinger grows the prescription mail order program with pharmacy automation by McKesson

>24hr

order turnaround time

McKesson

Geisinger, a large healthcare and insurance service provider in Pennsylvania, wanted to expand their capacity for delivering pharmaceutical products to patients by mail while balancing the workload for the employees. McKesson provided the company with an enterprise-level, pharmacy solution that can handle high production volumes and support throughout the implementation and post-implementation phases.

TidalHealth improves efficiency with Omnicell compounding services

$66,000

in quarterly savings

TidalHealth

TidalHealth Peninsula Regional, a 266-bed hospital, turned to Omnicell for its IV Compounding Service and a second i.v.STATION compounding robot to increase the number and quality of their premixed compounded sterile products (CSPs). Thanks to automation, TidalHealth was able to boost its production, reduce costs, and improve patient safety over the course of several months.

Pharmaceutical companies enhance drug safety with a mobile app from Itransition

2x

more submitted reports

A UK-based SaaS provider delivering drug safety solutions to top 30 global pharma organizations required a mobile application to be added to its software suite to simplify real-time adverse event reporting for patients and clinicians. Our team delivered a cross-platform mobile application that reduced the time and effort needed for report creation, leading to improved patient outcomes.

An independent pharmacy grew revenue with RxSafe’s solution

$100

profit per patient

RxSafe

McBain Family Pharmacy, an independent retail pharmacy in Michigan, provides its customers with prepackaged prescriptions for easier medication adherence. The manual filling and checking process took too much time and effort and didn’t comply with healthcare regulations. With the RapidPakRx, McBain pharmacy reduced processing time for a single patient from 1 hour to 15 minutes, improved compliance, and significantly reduced labor costs.

Geisinger grows the prescription mail order program with pharmacy automation by McKesson

>24hr

order turnaround time

McKesson

Geisinger, a large healthcare and insurance service provider in Pennsylvania, wanted to expand their capacity for delivering pharmaceutical products to patients by mail while balancing the workload for the employees. McKesson provided the company with an enterprise-level, pharmacy solution that can handle high production volumes and support throughout the implementation and post-implementation phases.

Smart technologies in pharma automation

AI

Developers often employ artificial intelligence and machine learning when creating pharmacy automation devices and software. AI performs a vital quality control function in dispatching and packaging solutions: it double-checks if the right medication is being dispatched by triggering the dispatching machine to photograph and weigh the drug, and then comparing it with the image and weight information in the database. 

At the same time, AI-powered chatbots, implemented in patient-facing solutions, help users choose a proper over-the-counter medicine based on their symptoms or order a prescription online or via the phone. The technology can also help companies foster pharmacy business development by gathering, processing, and analyzing vital consumer data.

Best integrations for pharmacy automation

Pharmacies are often a part of a larger healthcare organization, be it hospitals, long-term care facilities, or central fill stations. For these organizations to run smoothly, pharmacy software must be connected to the IT ecosystem.

Core integrations
EHR/EMR
Hospital management systems
Healthcare ecommerce
Patient engagement tools

Enable timely prescription fulfillment and refills based on the information in patients’ medical history to avoid delivering the wrong medications, keep track of substance usage, and reduce the time and effort needed for order processing.

Coordinate equipment and substance ordering, their timely maintenance and proper storage, and optimize medication distribution across your hospital facilities according to real-time needs.

Boost profits by selling your pharmaceutical products and services online 24/7 with the help of ecommerce tools.

Connect with your customers, understand their needs, and improve their experience, fostering trust and loyalty with various patient engagement software.

How to choose a pharmacy automation solution

Deciding on the best pharmacy automation solution can be tricky, so we advise splitting the selection into four steps.

1

Explore the areas that can benefit from automation, define the main objectives of the pharmacy automation project, and focus on the workflows that need changing to achieve said objectives.

2

Assess your existing software, hardware, and infrastructure to discover your organization’s capabilities.

3

Determine your budget for the automation project, taking into account fixed, variable, and, if possible, hidden costs.

4

Analyze the market and consult the experts who will help you choose a platform-based or custom pharma automation solution that covers most of your requirements within the set budget.

Pharmacy automation benefits

Increased precision & safety

Inadequate measurement or contamination of medicine poses enormous risks for pharmacies and their customers, so human pharmacists must always stay alert, which is tiring. Machines, on the other hand, can ensure the precise weight, aspect ratio of the compounds, and sterility of the medication regardless of the number of operations.

Improved efficiency & resource allocation

The Journal of the American Pharmacist Association states in its research that pharmacists can save more than 46.5 minutes per 100 prescriptions filled by robotic dispensing devices compared to the traditional count and pour method. Pharmacy employees can allocate this time to provide better patient care or participate in drug research and development.

Reduced waste

Automation reduces medicine waste due to expiration or contamination, prevents overstocking and damage of fragile medicine packaging, thereby making pharmaceutical operations more cost-effective.

Improved data protection & confidentiality

Pharmacy management software helps keep patients’ data securely stored and processed according to industry standards and regulations. Automated record-keeping and prescription fulfillment allow pharmacies to reduce the risk of drug misplacement or abuse while ensuring compliance with the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) and The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Automation adoption challenges

Interoperability & standardization issues

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so each pharmacy uses different hardware and software to automate processes, which obstructs data transfer between companies or departments. Pharmacy employees, in their turn, have a hard time adapting to new positions or switching companies because they have to take multiple training sessions to operate new systems.

Significant initial investment

Pharmacy management software can be affordable for small businesses and large enterprises. However, compounding, dispensing, and storage devices are quite large and expensive. Therefore, the adopting company has to make a significant upfront investment and then keep paying for the support. According to Global Pharmacy Automation Market research by Mordor Intelligence, around 80% of primary care facilities cite the lack of finances as a major barrier to implementing automation. Another big obstacle is the amount of training needed for personnel to learn the ropes of the automation software and equipment.

Set-up & maintenance

Some pharmacy automation systems take up to 180 square feet and require constant maintenance and upgrades. Therefore, only large pharmacies and hospitals can afford to install a full-scale automation system. On the bright side, smaller facilities don’t require huge mechanisms, with more compact machines and software able to cover most of their needs.
Entrust pharmacy automation to experts

Entrust pharmacy automation to experts

Automating pharmacy operations has become necessary for growing your business while maintaining high-quality services and safe working conditions. However, such a complex process has many challenges for pharma organizations with little experience. In order to get ROI from your pharmacy automation systems faster and avoid getting bogged down by common automation implementation obstacles, we recommend partnering with an automation solutions provider with years of experience in the industry.

Entrust pharmacy automation to experts

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