The pharmacy management software you choose to partner with is legitimately one of the most important vendor relationships in your pharmacy next to your primary wholesaler. Whether you are opening a new pharmacy or considering a change in your pharmacy software vendor, the system you choose can make or break your business. The independent pharmacy industry is changing at lightning speed, and the needs of independently owned pharmacies are rapidly increasing. Evaluating a pharmacy software system may not seem difficult, but pharmacy owners need to be thorough in making a decision to avoid having to convert to a different software system in the future. Avoiding re-training, additional costs, and frustration can all be done by taking the time to evaluate and make the right decision the first time around.
“What will this cost me” is an important question for many business owners, and in our industry, it’s not just about the upfront cost, but also the monthly costs associated. Price is an important factor when choosing the right system for your pharmacy, but by simply looking at a proposal it is easy to believe one system is priced better than another because of hidden fees and add-ons. Pharmacy software pricing is not always black and white and often times there are “a la carte” add on features that you should be aware of. A seemingly good deal can be buried in add on fees, small print ‘hidden fee’s, and even hard to understand quotes that end up costing you much more in the long run. At the end of the day you need a clear, easy to understand true cost comparison that includes all the technology you will need to stay competitive in your market. Planning for the future is imperative. What features will you use today and need in the future? Watch out for introductory pricing that changes in the near future, look for companies claiming they offer unusually low switch or e prescribing fees as they usually have other hidden fees that bring that price up.
All pharmacy software systems will help you to fill prescriptions and manage patient profiles—but what more can your pharmacy software do for you? How can it help your pharmacy make more money, operate in a more automated fashion to save in labor costs, as well as truly show you how to avoid losses and build more profitability in? Opening an independent pharmacy is about both your immediate needs and future goals as well as how to best achieve both. The most successful community pharmacies offer their patients even more conveniences than the local chain pharmacy or other independent pharmacies in the area. In order to effectively engage patients, focus on improving medication compliance, and manage PBM DIR fees/claw backs. Ideally your pharmacy software system should offer proprietary technology without the need for pricey third party interfacing, such as Medication Synchronization, mobile applications and online integration, adherence utilities, and document management. The best suite of products help you grow your business affordably by offering innovative solutions designed to help you do more for less. Flexibility in working with you and your ideas or needs over the years is also important. These days most software companies will accept your ideas for features or changes in the pharmacy software, but that’s all they do, listen. Some pharmacy software vendors will take the idea, and place it in a forum to have it voted on, but if you do not get enough votes, the need or feature is gone. Larger software companies cannot manage that level of attention or flexibility, so remember that when your choosing your pharmacy management software vendor.
Why do patients choose an independently owned pharmacy? Customer service, flexibility, and attention to detail are at the top of that list. Your patients expect speed, attention and your ability to be flexible with their needs. No one wants to deal with the ‘red tape’ that comes with doing business with large companies filled with rules and policies. Let’s face it, in order to order you to offer your patients the best quality care, you rely on your vendor partners to offer that same speed and flexibility. Unfortunately, as pharmacy software vendors continue to sell off and consolidate many customers are left waiting for support. Just as your patients rely on quick turnaround, your pharmacy software vendor’s support team needs to be ready to assist you when you need them. While the majority of pharmacy software vendors have been merged together, leaving you with big corporate rules and many layers of management, Datascan is proud to be among the independently owned software companies that can still offer that small company experience.
Year after year many pharmacy software system vendors continue to sell off to private equity whose ultimate goal is profitability and growth. Only a handful of pharmacy software vendors remain independently owned and operated, and that number continues to shrink. Bottom line is, we all know with independently owned companies comes less layers of management, less red tape — ultimately less strict guidelines. That means more flexibility as a customer. Consider the benefits of independent pharmacy over the chains and mail order, and then think about the relationship you have with your software vendor. While every business has goals that largely include profitability, independent pharmacy understands that profitability starts and ends with customer loyalty. Independently owned pharmacy software vendors place an emphasis on the customer, and work hard to support customer needs to cultivate mutual growth and success. Patients come to your independent pharmacy because they want more, and they don’t want to be treated like a number. Pharmacy owners deserve the same from their vendor partners.
5. Always Ready for Change
Independent pharmacy is forever changing. From computerizing the industry in the 80’s and 90’s to building system automation and AI, the technology you use needs to be adaptable and grow with you. As retail pharmacy continues to seek out new profit centers through non PBM centric models like compounding, front end boutiques, long term care, and specialty, partnering with a pharmacy software vendor that offers a software suite that does it all is key. As your business evolves your needs will change, and partnering with a vendor who offers flexibility to help you grow your pharmacy through technology is important.
As pharmacy owners look to the best solution for their business, they need to evaluate all 5 key components. Emphasizing just one often leads to customer dissatisfaction and system turnover. Looking into the 5 key elements for choosing the best pharmacy software partner will help to make sure you choose the perfect partner for your business.