Patients will be the focus at successful pharmacies in 2023. That’s the word from our survey of pharmacy technology vendors, which asked for the best ideas for pharmacies in the coming year. Technology will play a role not just in engaging with and building services for patients, but in creating the right environment for pharmacy staff to do so. That’s because staff will still need to attend to a wide range of other tasks, from the typical, like filling prescriptions, to developing demands, such as those from regulatory requirements and market pressures from payers.


Jude Dieterman, CEO of TDS
Jude Dieterman, CEO, Transaction Data Systems

Jude Dieterman, CEO of Transaction Data Systems, puts patient engagement at the top of the list for pharmacies in 2023. “Given the need to diversify and maximize revenue in this shifting economy,” says Dieterman, “pharmacies must reset on their patient engagement strategies. Patient loyalty and outreach are not enough to fully amplify ROI [return on investment]. You will need to engage patients through targeted interventions and MTM [medication therapy management] to maximize therapy, maintain adherence, and ultimately improve outcomes.”

As Dieterman rightly points out, adherent patients provide a steady prescription stream. And then that steady engagement with patients can create further revenue opportunities. “Thanks to integrated paid clinical opportunities,” explains Dieterman, “pharmacies can benefit from a direct line of sight to the total compensation available for retaining, engaging, and maintaining patient care through the pharmacy.”


Gold Eneyo, Pharm.D., Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services, AmerisourceBergen
Gold Eneyo, Pharm.D., Director of Clinical Pharmacy Services, AmerisourceBergen

Gold Eneyo, Pharm.D., director of clinical pharmacy services for AmerisourceBergen, is another who sees 2023 as the year for independent community pharmacies to focus on increasing patient care services and engaging more with patients to better serve their communities.

“In the past few years, especially with the pandemic, many patients skipped routine screenings and other healthcare services,” says Eneyo. But if there’s one thing independent pharmacies demonstrated during this time, in Eneyo’s opinion, it is their agility and clinical expertise with testing and treating. Pharmacy was successful in providing services for what were often among some of the most vulnerable patient populations.

“Now, pharmacies can and should expand these patient care services to provide more care in the community,” says Eneyo, “and they need to be fairly reimbursed for those services.”

Eneyo makes the point that pharmacies can tap into patient care opportunities by using their current technology platforms to their fullest extent. Some of the dispensing platforms are integrating patient communications, immunization history, MTM, and adherence ratings.


Randy Hoggle Advasur DSCSA Track and Trace
Randy Hoggle, R.Ph., Managing Director, Advasur

Randy Hoggle, R.Ph., managing director at Advasur, sees 2023 as the year for pharmacies to optimize the experience gained from their COVID-19 response success. “As a pharmacist I’m proud of what the profession has accomplished over the past couple of years,” says Hoggle.“ And now in 2023, we have to work on creating new revenue.”

This could mean, in Hoggle’s view, making the move into a series of immunization programs and building out medical care programs. But the ability to do this depends in part on being able to focus on these opportunities, which can be hard to do, notes Hoggle, in the face of operational and regulatory challenges such as compliance with Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) requirements.

“Pharmacies need to find ways to keep these requirements and the status of trading partners from being complicating and distracting factors,” says Hoggle. This will be a real challenge, he notes, considering pharmacy is still waiting for final guidance on enhanced drug distribution security requirements; details on interoperability requirements that are being viewed by the FDA to be mission critical; and clarity from manufacturers on where they’re seeing gaps in their ability to prepare that will have downstream effects on dispensers.

“This is why at Advasur we’ve been building out not just an SaaS [software as a service] technology platform to address DSCSA,” continues Hoggle, “but we’ve also created more than 12 services to take the burden off pharmacies and help them focus on building on the impressive work they are doing.”


Kalpesh Patel, Manager, IPS Elite
Kalpesh Patel, Manager, IPS Elite

Kalpesh Patel, manager for IPS Elite, recommends that pharmacies ensure that they automate as many manual processes as they can. Automating with artificial intelligence (AI) and bots will be a key element of the company’s software development path for 2023, notes Patel. “This is to allow pharmacies to focus on patient care,” he says. Automated warnings and alerts improve patient safety, for example.

And perhaps equally important is how staff can view the data that systems are producing. For example, Patel points to the verification window in IPS Elite, which allows pharmacies to get a complete overview of the patient on a single screen. “When your system automatically pulls all the key information into one window,” says Patel, “you are improving decision-making and minimizing errors and miscues.”


Jim McDonald, VP of sales for Integra and QS/1 at RedSail Technologies
Jim McDonald, VP of sales for Integra and QS/1 at RedSail Technologies

Jim McDonald, VP of sales for Integra and QS/1 at RedSail Technologies, sees the cloud making a resurgence in 2023, with advantages accruing from technology that minimizes in-pharmacy infrastructure.

“Consider entering the cloud-based pharmacy management system environment,” suggests McDonald. “This gets rid of servers and eliminates the maintenance and upgrading of hardware. It reduces expenses while providing faster and better, more efficient performance.”

This has been the focus at Integra as it has brought its new Axys cloud-based pharmacy management software to market. “We designed and built Axys specifically for long-term care and centered it around patient care, while leveraging the cloud to significantly reduce the technology infrastructure pharmacies need to excel,” says McDonald.

Minimizing the investment in hardware can also open the door to pharmacies building out new services such as medical-at-home or revving up combo shop long-term care (LTC) operations.

Rebecca Lambeth, C.Ph.T, Director of Product Development and Customer Support, Medicine-on-Time
Rebecca Lambeth, C.Ph.T, Director of Product Development and Customer Support, Medicine-on-Time

Medical-at-home services are high on the list for 2023 for Rebecca Lambeth, C.Ph.T, director of product development and customer support at Medicine-On-Time. This model, in which patients receive expanded LTC services in the home, rather than in a facility, is grounded in a successful adherence program that uses a combination of packaging, detailed clinical plans that are simple to understand, and scheduling.

Lambeth points to adherence programs as critical for succeeding in this area. “A strong adherence program will continue to create growth opportunities for pharmacies,” says Lambeth, “especially as traditional longterm care settings are moving to the medical-at-home model.”

Read More: A New Vision for Adherence Packaging


Scott Beatty, President, SoftWriters
Scott Beatty, President, SoftWriters

For Scott Beatty, SoftWriters president, it’s not just about adding new features or interfaces to your pharmacy system in 2023 to reach your business goals. In some cases, it’s important to keep it simple by capitalizing on the features in your system to their fullest advantage.

“This is SoftWriters’ philosophy for their LTC pharmacy customers,” says Beatty. “Now is the time to review your LTC pharmacy’s strengths and weaknesses and develop new strategies to solidify, strengthen, and scale. First, review your pharmacy’s basic workflow and software. Consider what’s automated, what efficiencies could be unlocked, and what costs you could eliminate.”

Once the base is strong, and you know what you do well, Beatty then recommends that you look to leverage what your software already offers to its fullest extent. “For example, in SoftWriter’s FrameworkLTC suite,” says Beatty, “there is document management, secure messaging, and a facility web portal, to name a few.

If you’re using these features today, are they fully integrated into your workflow for all your customers? If they aren’t fully integrated it can lead to distractions in the pharmacy and make it harder to scale up your operations. If you’re not using certain features, consider why not and look at the training and support you might need to get started.”

According to Beatty, don’t be afraid to start small. Once you know what works well for a smaller client, say 10 beds, it will be easier to scale up. ”You take your base and build a process that’s efficient — do more of what you’re doing and do it better than everyone else,“ he says.

Datascan President Kevin Minassian
Kevin Minassian, President, Datascan

Kevin Minassian, president of Datascan, is on the same page. He wants to see pharmacies dig deeper into the features they should already have in existing pharmacy software. “We still find it painful to realize how many independents out there are not harnessing the technology offered by PMS [pharmacy management system] vendors,” says Minassian, “especially on the patient-facing side. The chains are doing it, your competitors are offering it — so you need to, in order to survive.”

Minassian suggests, for example, that you make sure your patients can queue up refills and submit new prescriptions using a mobile application, or schedule their next immunization appointment without having to come in or call the pharmacy.

“It is more automation and less work for you and your staff,” he says. You also want to be able to organize day-to-day tasks for staff using queues, and to automate as many as possible — for example, tasks such as making requests to prescribers and reaching out to patients via SMS (short message service) about refills due and prescriptions waiting to be picked up.

“And can your patients respond via two-way messaging that auto-triggers events in your pharmacy software?” asks Minassian. “This helps offer patients tremendous convenience while also giving you and your staff less manual workload. This is the future.”

Patient care-centered technology gives the pharmacist an opportunity to take a holistic look at a patient’s healthcare history, agrees Gold Eneyo: “This allows the pharmacist to determine the level of care that the pharmacy can provide, leading to an increase in patient loyalty and satisfaction.”


Eneyo encourages pharmacies to also look to solutions outside of the pharmacy software for additional opportunities to care for patients. For example, according to Enyeo, 2023 will be a prime time to consider how integration of patient care platforms into the workflow will allow the pharmacy to generate additional revenue through medication therapy management and pay-for-performance programs.

And then there are platforms that also allow the pharmacist to engage with patients to select Medicare Part D plans that are affordable for the patient, and also beneficial for the pharmacy. “Patients often do not know which Medicare Part D plans to select,” says Eneyo, “and may not know that they may lose their relationship with their community pharmacist by selecting certain Part D plans. By playing an engaged role in the selection of the Part D plan, the pharmacist can preserve a lasting relationship with their patient.”


Ally Thomson, VP of Marketing, InterLink AI
Ally Thomson, VP of Marketing, InterLink AI

Ally Thomson, VP of marketing for InterLink AI, suggests that pharmacies look at leveraging centralization in 2023. “Independent, multilocation, and health-system pharmacies are facing a lot of challenges these days,” says Thomson. “There’s increased volume of prescription medication orders; the strain on employees from the amount of time spent on tedious tasks and sacrifices with patients, and in an increasingly limited workspace; and growth in mail-order and home delivery.”

A central-fill and centralized-service model promises to streamline the process of filling prescriptions for in-store pickup and delivery, while alleviating the burden on retail pharmacy staff and affording more time to spend on patient care. The central-fill element of operations can then be strategically integrated with smart will-call solutions such as InterLink AI’s scripClip, according to Thomson.

Thomson offers an example of how one pharmacy is doing just this: Nebraska Medicine has been rolling out its new HUB facility for central fill, central mail, and specialty pharmacy with the priority on streamlining the process of sorting prescriptions, getting them back to the retail pharmacies, and checking them in to will-call without duplicating effort. Not only does the HUB bring 75% of medication dispensing for four pharmacy locations into one automated facility, according to Thomson, but Nebraska Medicine has also adopted a centralized services model.

This means that, without adding staff, their central teams can handle a long list of critical processes, including pre-verification, order entry, call center tasks, specialty pharmacy management, med access coordination, front-end retail services, and 340B and third-party analysis, plus dispensing, verification, packing, and shipment. Nebraska Medicine outpatient pharmacy teams can spend more time with patients, according to Thomson, providing medication consultation or on-site clinical services.


Christine Bloome, Content Marketing Manager, BestRx Pharmacy Software
Christine Bloome, Content Marketing Manager, BestRx Pharmacy Software

Christine Bloome, content marketing manager for BestRx Pharmacy Software, brought in a perspective on a different part of the pharmacy footprint: the front end. “As profit margins for prescriptions continue to shrink and inflation is driving up operational costs,” says Bloome, “pharmacies need to look for other ways to bring in revenue and operate more efficiently. Investing in point-of-sale [POS] software can help pharmacies better manage and grow their front-end sales.”

Among the benefits of POS systems, according to Bloome, is the ability to create customizable loyalty programs to encourage repeat business and run sales promotions throughout the year. POS systems also provide robust inventory management tools and reporting. “Pharmacies can save a significant amount of time keeping up with manufacturer pricing changes and tracking their acquisition costs and OTC [over the counter] sales,” says Bloome.

POS software enhances the customer experience too, she notes, with convenient features like capturing electronic signatures and providing alternative, remote ways to pay for their pharmacy items. “By ensuring the front end of their store is also operating efficiently,” concludes Bloome, “pharmacies can add revenue that’s not dictated by PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers].”


It will be no easy task for pharmacies to navigate the ever-shifting currents of the market, while pursuing important goals such as provider status and bringing the fight to PBMs. But if there’s anything the past few years have shown, it’s that pharmacists will be ready to meet challenges head on and to build on the valuable care provided in their communities and the connections with patients that are the hallmark of the profession. Pharmacy technology providers are working to ensure that pharmacies have the tools they need to get the job done. CT