They say there’s a silver lining to every cloud, but pharmacists know there can also be extra complexity with every additional revenue stream. Not to say it’s not worth it! Each pharmacy added brings the potential for greater profits. But having multiple pharmacy locations can present a dilemma to owners – paradoxically, this is especially true if you only have a few stores. But paying attention to 7 operational essentials can give you the power of much larger chains.
- Comprehensive and flexible software. Your pharmacy management system is core to quality patient care and efficient and profitable store operations. The key is its ability to seamlessly connect you with the tools you need – POS, IVR, automated dispensing, etc. It must handle everything from prescription dispensing to prescription synchronization, clinical checking, billing, compliance documentation (including Medicare Part B), and medication therapy management. And it must be easy to learn and use because you need to get new or fill-in staff up and running as quickly as possible.
- Simplified management system. The best central management system for community pharmacies with up to 10 stores is the host-remote configuration. With this configuration, all your stores run off one central, secure server, greatly simplifying your IT responsibilities. Routine maintenance – updates and troubleshooting of software clinical files, pricing structure, virus protection, backups – are required only on one server. It’s a solid, low-maintenance solution that lowers costs and simplifies communication – the perfect solution for growing a community pharmacy’s operations.
- Central maintenance of all store files. Critical to any multiple-store operation is the ability to centrally manage and update files – including patient and doctor profiles, inventory, purchasing, pricing, and billing. The system should allow you to modify files for one store, a group of stores, or all stores. Central management of doctor and drug files enables you to easily add new records quickly. A central employee file also allows pharmacists and techs to move between stores without requiring separate passwords.
- Reporting at your fingertips. You should be able to quickly access data from any store for reporting and track trends in specific markets or zones for more informed decision-making. The system should provide flexibility in reporting and enable you to export the data for additional analysis.
- Centralization of routine tasks. Your system should enable you to centralize routine tasks. You should be able to bill and reconcile claims centrally. This is a tremendous time-saver and provides much greater quality control. Central filling allows you to fill all prescriptions from one location, if you choose. The prescriptions can be returned to the store for dispensing or mailed directly to a customer, freeing your in-store staff to devote more time to patient counseling and other tasks.
- Monitored workflow. A central workflow is crucial to allowing you to monitor each store’s volume. When volume starts to build, additional personnel can be called in to help store staff by resolving errors and troubleshooting problems.
- Enhanced customer satisfaction and safety. Company-wide interaction checking gives your patients reassurance and convenience. They know that regardless of which store they use to fill a prescription, your store-wide system checks all their medications. And having patients’ profiles shared between stores makes communication and prescription transfer so much easier.
These 7 essentials boil down to having a system that’s both robust and flexible. It should allow economies of scale from centrally managing multiple stores, but perhaps more importantly, your system should facilitate an enhanced patient experience – wherever they visit you.
Multi-store owners, what advice can you share for anyone considering opening another location? We’d love to hear.