by Thomas E. Hanzel, Pharm.D.

Thomas Hanzel, Pharm.D.

With the correct automation solutions, long-term care pharmacies are using key features to customize service, keeping their pharmacies competitive.

Today we live in a world that focuses on personalization. Creating a personal customized offering for your residents isn’t only important but essential. Gone are the days of just being a transactional provider. Today we all expect companies to focus on our needs, and long-term care (LTC) pharmacy customers are no different. Nursing centers are becoming more savvy consumers. They experience personalization in almost every area of their life, so pharmacies certainly should be able to as well!

The biggest single factor enabling pharmacies to offer customization is automation. However, many are missing this solution. There are two types of pharmacy companies in this world: those using automation to “keep up” with competitors and those using automation as a true business growth strategy. Forward-thinking pharmacies understand that automation allows them to do three key things: diversify their offerings in order to penetrate more markets, create unique customizations for customers, and develop customer loyalty. Let’s look at these strategies.

Automation allows you to infiltrate various segments that require specialized packaging. Residents are becoming more acute and nursing centers are facing nurse shortages, resulting in an increase in medication errors. Any packaging that improves adherence will be appealing and result in better outcomes, and ultimately higher reimbursement. Automation isn’t new, but cutting-edge automation allows pharmacies to offer a variety of dispensing formats, which decreases med pass time while increasing adherence. The most successful pharmacies profit when they adjust to their customers’ preferences by offering multiple packaging types.

Secondly, the right automation allows pharmacies to create individualization. The most robust automation software allows label and packaging customization, drawing attention to areas that the customer wants. Whether it is color, pill identification, or patient photo, each label, pouch, or card can be uniquely customized, resulting in improved medication administration.

Lastly, automation allows flexibility to free up precious staff time, enabling pharmacists to make a personal connection with the nursing staff, enhancing customer loyalty. At the center of a value-based care environment, pharmacies simply can’t perform their most valuable function, improving outcomes, when they spend their day endlessly managing dispensing. We need to use technology as a true growth strategy to maximize our pharmacists’ time for value-added programs, such antibiotic stewardship, med reconciliation, and overall adherence. In order to enhance and build a broader business, you must be willing to be a provider focused on the nursing center’s personal experience.

In all, when the right automation is deployed, pharmacies stop focusing on the transaction of dispensing and turn their focus on increasing their market reach by offering solutions that result in improved adherence, bettering outcomes, reducing rehospitalization, and increasing loyalty to their pharmacy. Fortunately, our future has only the limits we put on ourselves. CT

Thomas Hanzel, Pharm.D., is an industry thought leader and national VP of long-term care and nutraceutical at Parata, an automation company that provides pharmacy technology solutions that support business growth, better health outcomes, and lower medical costs.