Steward Brand says, “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” Ain’t that the truth. However, as pharmacy owners, it can be hard to muster the enthusiasm for changing systems and processes. The hassle can seem more effort than the payoff when you’re knee deep in payroll, scripts and stocktake. However, there are some key technologies that your staff and customers expect from you and your pharmacy in the 21st century.
The right technologies are critical when it comes to a few key solutions. Save valuable time with sleek systems that serve your needs. Old, clunky computers and processes mean time down the drain for you and your employees. There are some fantastic solutions which meet the specific needs of your business, developed by pharmacists who have come up against the very same brick walls. Take control with the right technologies which give you quicker access to the information you need in real time, to build a more profitable business. Create the right environment which makes for a positive and productive work culture for your staff; where your team see you model a proactive investment in tech that helps to make their lives easier. Make it convenient for your customers so they want to come back to your pharmacy time and time again. With so much competition against digital sales, you don’t want your customers to have to think twice about where they go for their health solutions.
If overwhelm is starting to nip at your heels, take a deep breath and pour yourself a cuppa, or maybe something a little stronger. The important thing is to be aware of technologies coming up, and implement in incremental steps – you don’t have to do everything at once!
- Stay ahead of the tech curveball by looking around you, talking to other pharmacists and asking experts about what technologies are emerging and how they might serve you. You don’t need to automatically jump on every new thing that pops its new-fangled head up -wait for it to be proven, then react quickly to leverage the benefits.
- Implement the technologies that interest and energise you, so you don’t approach it with a lacklustre commitment. This really needs your enthusiasm to stick.
- Create a technology roadmap/mindmap (there are apps for this! Check out Lucidchart, MindMeisteror XMindfor some examples) which helps you to get really clear about the technologies benefits, and why it’s going to work for you and your business.
While several of the following are obvious for Generation X, Y and Z, some pharmacists are still operating in the dark ages. Get up to speed with a few easy steps.
Your staff expect:
This is a no brainer and there’s no excuse not to. Go paperless and ensure all of your payroll and staff records are available digitally. Less wasted paper, less faff, less time, more convenience for your staff and for you.
I know how intimidating it can be to change your Point of Sale system over but treat it like a band aid – don’t hesitate and it’s a lot easier. Invest in a proven, quality system and spend the time setting it up in depth. Make it easier and more enjoyable for your staff to come to work. Better staff retention = less time spent recruiting.
Just as employees expect to be paid correctly for the time they work; they also expect your technology to be up to scratch when it comes to clocking on and off their shift. Technologies like ClockOn, TANDA and WAGELOCH are all designed to help fill this gap and help to record the information seamlessly and painlessly without writing anything down on paper. Automation saves time for them and you.
Gone are the days that people are all geographically bound for staff meetings. Ensure everyone is up to speed at the same time – regardless of whether they’re working in the shop that day – by using virtual meeting spaces like Zoom, Skype or the video function on Slack. Conferencing technology means you can meet with multiple remote employees at once.
Scribbling notes in a diary or calendar is so yesteryear. Programs like Slack and Basecamp help streamline communication between shifts, employees and employers so that everyone is up to speed. You can assign roles to specific staff members on both of these platforms, or use digital spaces like Asana or Scoro to create faster collaboration, easier delegation, provide central data storage and quick file-sharing. NOTE: Be aware of the blurring of lines between personal and professional lives when it comes to online communication. It’s important to be clear as a business owner that you don’t expect replies to non-urgent information shared on these central platforms after hours. Burnout is real, and while you may be working around the clock as a business owner (although, please don’t!) your staff shouldn’t be running on the same hamster wheel.
Your customers expect:
A digital footprint
How far you go with this is up to you. A Google presence and a basic website is absolutely minimum, so customers can at least find out your opening hours. Professional websites and a social media presence on Facebook and Instagram also help to lend your business a sense of gravitas, authority and legitimacy. In an era loud with rivalling competition, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Figure out your niche and play on it with your marketing.
Reminders straight to your customer’s phone ensure they remember their medication which is vital for their health, while also keeping your business front and centre in their minds. Medication advisory programs like Metamed and GuildCare NG are cloud based software programs which directly connect pharmacies to clients, giving customers access to script history, prompts for script renewals and encouragement for repeat business.
E-copies of CMI
Just as SMS reminders are important, emailed versions of Customer Medicines Information is important. This is valuable to the customer, with less chance of losing a physical leaflet or printed information. It’s also less waste and cost for you and upon asking for your customer’s email address, you’re adding to your digital database for marketing purposes like a monthly newsletter or campaign. You can check out platforms like Mail Chimp or your websites in-house newsletter service to create compelling newsletters your customers will want to read.
While this is relatively new technology and the bugs are still being ironed out, early adopters are going to reap the rewards of this technology as patients will come to expect you to be on board. As we said before, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road!