Whether you’re an aspiring pharmacist entrepreneur or an established pharmacy owner expanding your network, setting up a new pharmacy is no small feat. It involves more than securing a prime location and stocking up on medications. From modern tech integrations to maintaining a strong online presence, several digital elements need careful planning and execution. So, let’s delve into these key considerations that play an essential role in successfully setting up a new pharmacy in the digital age.
A PMR system is the heart of your pharmacy’s operation. It manages patient records, dispensing, and inventory control, streamlining workflow and enhancing patient care. In essence, a well-implemented PMR system is a catalyst for reducing errors and increasing efficiency.
In today’s digital and clinical age, a pharmacy’s online presence is nothing but paramount. An intuitive website acts as your business online, offering vital information about your location, services, and products. Your website is so much more than just information, however. It can be an incredible tool for growth, with a plenty of interactive features like eCommerce, booking systems, virtual consultations and more.
If you’re an IP or you’re going to be offering PGDs, check out The UPW.
Moreover, a mobile app enhances customer convenience, enabling them to reorder/refill prescriptions, set medication reminders, and access health information on-the-go.
Automated Phone System and EPOS System
An automated phone system, like Google Voice, can manage multiple customer calls simultaneously, improving customer service. Moreover, an Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) system streamlines sales, inventory management, and financial reporting. These tools help your pharmacy team focus more on patient care and less on administrative tasks.
Drug Purchasing Solutions
In the busy world of pharmacy, drug purchasing software is a lifeline. It ensures timely inventory replenishment, prevents drug shortages, and identifies cost-saving opportunities. Essentially, it’s your secret weapon for efficient supply chain management.
Download the guide above and click on the links that our CEO has pointed out.
Harnessing Data for Performance Enhancement
Performance tracking is key when setting up a new pharmacy. PharmData is like a household name in pharmacy now. It offers critical data insights, helping you analyse your pharmacy’s performance and guiding your strategy. Whether it’s dispensing volume or patient safety incidents, keeping track of these metrics helps to improve performance and maximise profitability.
Be sure to check the guide above for more analytics solutions.
Building out a Strong Online Presence
Your NHS profile is vital for interacting with NHS services and patients. It’s essential to keep it updated with your pharmacy’s accurate details, including services provided, opening hours, and contact details. It ensures visibility to patients seeking services and helps maintain a positive relationship with the NHS.
It’s mandatory for you to set this up, and you can do so via this link.
Social Media and Online Listings
Social media and online listings, like Google Business, Yell.com and Facebook provide a platform to engage with customers, advertise services, and share health advice. Regular updates can boost visibility, customer engagement, and drive traffic to your website or physical pharmacy. These should not be overlooked as they are designed to generate business as you start up.
As always, we’re here to help you build out and optimise your profiles online. We work with 100’s of pharmacies across the UK and have advised 1000’s in all digital capacities. Be sure to get in touch with us when you’re setting up your new pharmacy, so we can help you create your perfect digital ecosystem.
https://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/New-Pharmacy-Digital-Setup-Checklist.png8101440Saam Alihttps://www.pharmacymentor.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Pharmacy-Mentor-Logo-Header-Website-300x56.pngSaam Ali2023-06-21 19:00:332023-06-21 19:49:25Digital Essentials When Setting Up a New Pharmacy
The Patient Medication Record (PMR) world has long-awaited revolution. Is the solution (and the revolution) finally here?
PMR Systems – A critical analysis
A PMR system determines the Quality of Life of a pharmacy team. You don’t want something you use so frequently giving you headaches. But it isn’t just your experience that improves with a good PMR. Your patients’ experience is dependent on a system that enables both communication and efficient service. As we discussed in our guide to choosing an online payment provider, with increasing competition on prescriptions, customer experience is paramount to retaining their business.
The whole EPS system works better for patients, but there is a world of potential for PMR’s to grow to improve customer experience. With automated giants like Amazon Pharmacy wading into the prescriptions market, you can be damned sure they’ll have the best system in place for prescriptions. The focus on clinical services is pivotal. Your PMR should both free up Pharmacists’ time and make patients’ lives easier.
Industry-Leading Pharmacy PMR Systems in the UK
All the providers we’ll look at in this article are “industry-leading”, using their own words. So, it isn’t really clear who the industry leader is. Or what they even mean when they say that. Is industry-leading the best? Or is it the first to be released? Hopefully, our guide will provide direction and a bit of clarity with what you can expect from each provider. We’ll update this guide routinely so it’s always a useful source for you when you need it.
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Does any PMR System fit a modern pharmacy?
The name Patient Medication Record shows the focus of PMR systems. And this way of thinking, along with a lack of cutting-edge competition, held back PMR development (and pharmacies) for some time. You’re undeniably reliant on prescriptions as a baseline to your business and require a system to manage that. But the historic reality of PMR systems was no matter how good they are at managing medication, they’re focused on – and therefore limited to – managing medication. As a business, when your infrastructure is limited, so is the service you’re able to offer. If you want to grow (or you’re forced into it by ever-decreasing prescription margins) into something more than a dispensing pharmacy, you’ll naturally need more from the system you’re using.
There’s an issue with complaining about PMR’s when thinking about the system that a modern pharmacy needs. The intuitive thing to do is to think of what already exists and try to make it better, but that’s like trying to make a plane and starting with a car. You can slap a pair of wings on a car, but it’s going to take you a lot longer to make it fly than it would if you just started from scratch and designed a plane.
Think about designing a system from scratch to manage your patients now. How would it function? What is it capable of doing? Understanding that the focus of a modern pharmacy is now multi-dimensional, the chances are you wouldn’t even call it a Patient Medication Record System, but a Patient Management System. (Or a Patient Integrated Care System, if only for the abbreviation PICS)
With all that in mind, what’s the best existing PMR system on the market?
Which PMR System does the best job?
Whilst no system is perfect for every pharmacy (one size rarely fits all), which existing provider comes closest to ticking all the boxes you want?
The five PMR systems we’ll review all offer unique elements to improve your working life. However, there are unique aspects to each system making each more appealing to some pharmacy owners than others. We’ll also include the company’s own video (where available) to give them a chance to speak for themselves.
Please note: As of this publication, we are not affiliated with any PMR System provider and this has been written with no bias whatsoever. It is for information purposes and comprises of what we know when doing our research into them on a top-level, some feedback we’ve naturally been given from our clients and the experience our CEO has had in using some of the systems as a pharmacist himself. We are by no means indicating one is better over the other. It’s up to you to decide which will be right for your particular business. Furthermore, these PMR systems are in no order of priority and numbered randomly.
An immediately striking element of Titan is it’s clearly created to be used by anyone. One of the biggest issues in any business adopting new technology is “buy-in” from the staff, and the training needed to get them using it effectively.
Titan’s system undoubtedly reflects modern software expectations. Anyone familiar with using a smartphone will find the system intuitive.
The Titan system has individual logins that are completely customisable for the users too. This means that your pharmacy technician and Superintendent Pharmacist can work with information and functions that make sense to their job role, whilst working from the same system
The genius behind Titan’s PMR is that it brings in modern business solutions, such as the ability to monitor individual performances such as completion rates and mistakes. This allows for detailed performance analysis and gives good insights into where training is required. On the topic of training, the system has an inbuilt guide/tour of how to use its functions – so face-to-face training isn’t required. However, it’s important that staff understand the full functionality of what’s available to them. Quickly skipping through the tutorials will lead to inefficiencies down the line.
It integrates, unsurprisingly, with Invatech’s Care Home Management system, Atlas PCS. If you already work with Atlas, it makes sense to adopt Titan too in the same way if you have an Apple or Microsoft laptop you’re better off with the same make of phone. The compatibility outweighs so many other pros and cons.
However, Invatech claim Titan PMR should be able to integrate with any healthcare app created using approved structures. This relies on other healthcare apps being built in the right way. So there might not be a raft of apps you can immediately integrate with, but it’s certainly future-proof.
Where it gets really exciting with Titan PMR though, is the “building blocks” approach to a tailored system. As much as one size can never fit all, this building blocks feature allows you to create different models of PMR for different models of pharmacy. As such, with a bit of time investment, you can mould your PMR system to your exact business model. Their claim “if you can imagine it, Titan can probably do it.”
A new player in the PMR market, Titan PMR has reimagined what PMRs should be. Whilst it might not be the complete package just yet, that might only be because other healthcare applications need to catch up to the level of integration that Titan can offer.
Titan’s offering is focused on helping Independent Community Pharmacies, mainly as that’s CEO Tariq Muhammed’s vision. “Leaving good pharmacists to do great services,” is the mantra behind his foray into technology in the pharmacy industry. So, provided you’re an Independent Community Pharmacy, Titan could well be the PMR for you.
Integratable API – Allows for integration with other systems
Forward-Thinking/Future-Proof – The reason for Titan’s creation was a frustration with the existing systems. As long as Titan doesn’t become the very thing it set out to beat, it looks like a strong horse to hitch your wagon to. The way it’s designed stands it in good stead for the future.
Building Blocks Model allows you to model your system on your pharmacy model, rather than try and fit one to the other.
Flexible Support Channels including WhatsApp –Customer service is obviously a huge factor. Whilst we can’t attest to the service provided, the flexibility to speak to people is a good sign.
Only recently released. With other more established PMR’s, it’s easier to find and read the experiences of people like you with reviews and testimonials online. Whilst there’s no telling if there are user issues, you’d be an early adopter at this stage, and therefore open to potential teething issues and bugs. It’s also unclear what the customer service is like. However, their eMAR product Atlas has positive Trustpilot reviews.
Cegedim Rx is already a big player in the PMR world when it comes to Medication Management. But the big advantage – the name. Pharmacy Manager. Not just the name, obviously. (Though it does sound like a fun computer game.) The benefit is more in how Cegedim Rx views Pharmacy Manager. Which is to say, they also view it as something that should reflect the whole of Pharmacy, including the incorporation of delivering services.
Switching PMR systems can be an administrative pain, so if you’re looking to switch to a new provider, it’s worth thinking about the future as well as the present. What’s the company’s vision for their PMR offering? Does their vision match up to your strategy as a pharmacy?
Cegedim Rx appears keen to listen to feedback from their users, and understand the direction Pharmacy as an industry is headed to develop their product into one that works for its users.
This is taken from the Cegedim Rx website:
“We have embedded our commitment into a product experience goal that commits to delivering products and solutions that precisely match our customer’s needs, enhance the UK healthcare systems, and facilitate improvements in patient care and outcomes.”
It’s promising to see both pharmacies and patients involved in product development.
Aesthetically, the Cegedim Rx is great to look at, having undergone a facelift in a recent update.
The dashboard design is useful, with a useful colour-coding alert system to prioritise tasks. It has good links to NHS services, including the prescription tracker and NHS mail within Pharmacy Manager, meaning find out what stage prescriptions are at without having to leave your PMR.
We know that Cegedim have big plans to advance Pharmacy Manager even further so in terms of innovation, they are helping community pharmacy evolve in its operations. This is a strong feature of the PMR and the company as a whole.
As mentioned, Pharmacy Manager is integrated with the NHS Prescription Tracker, which makes handling customer calls a breeze, as you’ll always know exactly where a prescription is up to.
If getting and giving great customer service is your main priority, Cegedim might be your best option.
User Interface – With a focus on making sure you never forget anything ever again by making the important things visible.
Reliability – Cegedim Rx support is widely praised for their communications and the system held up even during the Pandemic.
Updates –Cegedim Rx are constantly listening to customer feedback and improving the system with updates which improves the issues that people want fixed.
Consider the functionality of this PMR and compare it to other PMRs. Does it have the required variety of spec to do what you want to do in the pharmacy?
Rx Web divides people more than pineapple on pizzas. Whichever way you slice it, (#PizzaPunIntended) Rx Web is a forward-thinking solution. But can they deliver? (end of pizza puns)
A cloud-based platform enabling access from any PC or terminal instantly is a smart solution for pharmacies with more than one branch, or even just a large pharmacy with lots of terminals.
Cloud-based is so much better for so many reasons – there’s a reason Microsoft & Apple use it.
Imagine your pharmacy was broken into and your IT equipment was stolen. On the cloud, your data is still safe and accessible. Storing your data on your hardware isn’t secure.
Multiple pharmacies under the same umbrella? Working from the cloud makes it as though you’re working as one. Instead of your teams working in isolated branches, the cloud is a tree to connect them all. This means if you have a branch that’s busier than another, the one that isn’t as busy can be taking the prescription workload off the busy branch. Not only that, but the prescriptions will appear to be coming from the pharmacy they were ordered from. From the consumer’s perspective, it’s seamless.
Rx Web gets a lot of praise for its range of features, even from its critics. It even includes some Clinical Service support, though the list of supported services is limited to basic services like MURs, Flu Jabs, and Health Checks.
It also integrates with Care Home systems and its features around Care Homes specifically are quite extensive.
Whilst it’s great that they offer patient communications, and even give you 200 free texts per month, but it feels like 200 free texts won’t get you very far. Meaning there’s almost certainly additional costs in there if you wanted to truly use this system. They also, bafflingly, offer fax functionality with this. I don’t know how many of your customers have a fax machine sat at home. But perhaps you’re a pharmacy set in the ’80s. If you are, look no further. Rx Web has fax support.
Trying to get exact prices from PMR companies is a tricky task, especially as they often range based on individual needs. However, Rx Web has a reputation as the cheapest on the market, so if reducing your outgoings is your main priority, Rx Web might be your first port of call. We believe they only charge per pharmacy, so even if you have 10 terminals in your pharmacy, you pay once.
Where Rx Web seems to fall down is on its system’s integrity. Whilst some users report no issues, there are a lot of negative comments around Rx Web’s ability to run properly at busy times, suggesting their server isn’t big enough to cope. The technical support also receives mixed reviews. Their contract claims to be simple, but there are reviews that claim there is also no cooling off period. So simple it might be, but make sure you check what you’re signing up to. All things considered, it looks like a bit of a lottery when you sign up with Rx Web. You might be a big winner, but you might be a big loser.
Depends if you like pineapple on your pizza, I guess.
Low Fees – Users often remark on Rx Web being the cheapest on the market
Features –Especially considering the price point, Rx Web provides a lot of bang for your buck.
Server unreliability is concerning – though apparently, the servers are better now than they were.
Ranging reviews on Customer Service implies it depends who you get through to on the day.
ProScript’s reputation is that they’re the best PMR system, but also the most expensive. Logically, that makes sense. If something frees up more of your time, it’s more valuable. But how exactly does ProScript Connect do this? And does it stand up to the new kid on the block?
This video isn’t a promotional video, and it’s four years old. But it’s the only thing available and might give you some idea of what to expect with ProScript Connect.
Works even when your broadband goes down
With even the best internet prone to disconnect for no discernable reason, the idea that your PMR system (and effectively with it, your ability to do prescriptions) is tied to such whims is less than ideal, to say the least. ProScript’s “Constant Connect” automatically connects you to your NHS network via a 3G/4G connection in the event of a broadband failure. Pretty useful, if things like working are important in your pharmacy.
Clinical Services Provisions
Helpfully, there aren’t specifications for exactly which PGDs are covered, but that suggests you could feasibly assume that all PGD’s are included. The fact that there’s a Service Hub included does make ProScript Connect a really useful engine if you’re big on clinical services.
Wide Range of Features
Many of the benefits of ProScript come through the many modules they’ve developed as a part of the software, as above. Without going through them all one by one, it’s safe to say that each one is useful and thought through.
Communications wise it’s the same as many other providers, where you are able to send email or text notifications to patients…but again, what we’d really love is the option to text message back. Whilst it’s not imperative for prescriptions, communicating whether a patient needs to cancel or rearrange an appointment is valuable automation that just isn’t catered for at present.
It seems simple, but the ability to open tabs and work with different windows is useful. It makes so much sense in fact, that it makes any system where you can’t do that, look a bit silly.
Does ProScript Connect play well with others? Integrations are a big feature of what ProScript is aiming to do, with a big focus on linking with NHS systems like GP Connect & SystmOne. It uses SNOMED CT, which is required now by all NHS systems and enables information to be shared accurately without duplicitous re-entry by hand.
They also have an open API, so any third-party apps can build their apps to work with ProScript. (whether or not they do that will be down to the third-parties). But it’s certainly a plus point from ProScript. Integrations are so important for saving time on tedious admin tasks.
Integrations – With a focus on working well with NHS systems, there’s no doubt that ProScript plays well with other applications you might have or want.
3G/4G connection to cover internet failure is a big win.
Tabs! I get they aren’t the tidiest, but tabs are so useful to work with.
Cost – ProScript is high-end, which means paying high-end prices. But you get what you pay for in life.
Positive Solutions isn’t just a PMR provider. Although their PMR system is a solid standalone offering, what probably makes them the right option for you is if you’re interested in their Integrated Pharmacy Solution. It’s a fairly comprehensive solution including an ePoS system that completely integrates with your PMR. They offer other products like Analyst Head Office, which gives analysis on things like retail sales, profits, dispensing volumes across pharmacies, etc. Or Analyst Handout, demonstrated in the video below, which takes the power of your PMR into mobile terminals.
Switching PMR systems can be an administrative pain, so if you’re looking to switch to a new provider, it’s worth thinking about the future as well as the present. What’s the company’s vision for their PMR offering? Does their vision match up to your strategy as a pharmacy?
No Dispensing Downtime
Just like ProScript, Positive Solutions understand the frustrations with system downtime on a PMR, and provide 3G coverage if and when your broadband fails.
Incorporates Delivery Mates into your PMR
Your driver simply scans all the prescription bag label barcodes with the eDelivery app and the app does everything else.
Maps the best route with all traffic information for the driver and this includes keeping your patient informed of estimated delivery times. A dashboard in the pharmacy gives you all the information you need. It’s especially useful managing volunteers, proving you have a robust system to protect against fraud.
Most PMR suppliers tend to opt for either face-to-face training or online training. Positive Solutions have both. Face-to-face training upon installation, and an eLearning platform for training whenever it’s needed.
Integrates with your Robots
If you’ve got a robot or an automated collection point, Analyst PMR can be synced up with them so there’s no gap in your workflow.
Services Functionality – With a focus on making sure you never forget anything ever again by making the important things visible.
Good All-Rounder – Positive Solutions provides almost all the benefits and features other providers offer. Sometimes not as good, but at least the functionality is there.
Reliable Customer Service – With instant responses during working hours, so if something goes wrong it can get looked at straightaway.
Reports – Included in the price, unlike with some PMRs.
Some of the extra products in their ecosystem appear to come as standard in other PMR packages.
That’s the golden question. Which one is right for your pharmacy business?
It depends on how your business operates but we think the following are major reasons to influence your decision:
Customer service – Stuff goes wrong. It’s inevitable. The PMR record will not load or the system my go down. And making sure that the PMR company are responsive and accessible is key. If providers have limited access or don’t get back to you, simply avoid them.
User reviews – Does the company have social proofing? What do your colleagues say about them? Word of mouth goes a long way but if they are actively generating reviews online, this is a very good indication to go with them.
Integration – Does the software integrate with other third-party providers? Or is the software totally inflexible? If providers aren’t collaborating with other companies or their software/hardware does not integrate with other solutions, you’re limiting yourself.
Innovation – If when having a demo of the PMR provider, the user interface still looks like that from Windows 95, it may be a sign that the company lacks forward vision. Is the PMR provider using cloud-based or hybrid solutions, modern interfaces and state of the art software and hardware? If yes, then this is a green light.
Time-saving – The ultimate limiting factor for a pharmacist today is time. Will the provider will save you time in your operations and streamline workflow? This is an extremely important factor. More time = less admin = more room to develop and grow your business.
Have you been using a particular PMR system for your pharmacy? Finding a solution useful or poor? We’d love to hear from you.
If you’re looking for help in selecting the PMR for your pharmacy, please get in touch with us. Our Director, Saam, is a pharmacist of 15+ years, accompanied by the fact that we speak to literally 100’s of pharmacists every week using a variety of different PMR solutions, we’re in the know.
In thissponsored CPD module, we’re going to learn about a new tool called PharmZap which is designed to help patients and pharmacies communicate more efficiently.
How and why is this learning relevant?
The primary way of communication between a patient and a pharmacy has traditionally been and still is, by phone. However, since the evolution of digital health, there are now much better, more efficient solutions to communication.
Why is this learning important?
(Planning and Action)
Effective communication between patient and pharmacy beyond its brick walls is of paramount importance today. If the current system you have in place is poor, then it poses risks to all aspects of business.
For the patient, poor communication can lead to prescriptions not being ordered on time, inconvenience and overall patient dissatisfaction.
We all know, as pharmacists, how incredibly frustrating it is when the phone is ringing off the hook. This is a big time-waster in the pharmacy and when the phone remains unanswered, can leave you and your team with consequences down the line.
And for your business or organisation, poor communication will ultimately lead to less satisfied patients and financial loss. Most pharmacies only have one telephone line which means if someone is on the phone or on hold, another patient cannot get through. Furthermore, we are often understaffed and even just getting to the phone can be troublesome.
What is PharmZap?
(Planning and Action)
PharmZap – The improved patient/pharmacy communication tool
PharmZap is a new application designed to reduce these risks by greatly improving and organising your communication with patients and customers. For pharmacies, it is a web-based tool, and for the patient, it is a smartphone app.
I like to think of PharmZap as the “Messenger for Community Pharmacies” with a load more cool and exciting features that benefit both patient and pharmacy alike.
Now, in order for the tool to work, both pharmacy and patient must be signed up to PharmZap. Once a pharmacy is signed up, they will be given a load of marketing material to promote the App to their patients, and PharmZap will market the app to your patients in the locality from their side too.
Let me take you through a typical patient – pharmacy communication journey.
PharmZap is “The Instant Messenger for Community Pharmacy”
Let’s say one of your patients, George Bush has a script for Betnovate RD cream. Instead of calling you, he messages you over PharmZap. As soon as he does, you’ll receive a notification if you’re on Chrome and a ticket appears on the dashboard where you’re able to respond.
Now, this is where you and your team need to get into the habit of checking your dash on a regular basis. I’d suggest at least 3 times a day, within the opening hours of your pharmacy, and if you forget to respond, you’ll see the ticket turn red, which will encourage you to.
When you click on the tab, you’ll be able to respond to the patient appropriately and deal with the query there and then. Or, if you’re short of time at that point, you can nicely triage the ticket into one of the silo’s you can create. In this example, I’m going to create the silo, “Rx items to order”, and then place the ticket there to attend to at the end of the day.
Oh, it looks like I just got a message from Margaret. Let’s see what she wants…to order her Salbutamol inhaler. I’ll respond to her right now and place this ticket in the Repeat Requests Silo for my dispenser to order later.
Much less stress than a phone call and much more organised than paper.
“PharmZap is an excellent direct marketing tool”
But PharmZap is more than just a communication tool. It’s a marketing tool. On your profile, you’re able to provide a summary or full description of your pharmacy for patients to see, as well as the pharmacy services you offer and opening times.
Update your “subscribers” with the direct messaging feature
And, very importantly, as more and more patients subscribe to your pharmacy, you’ll be able to market your products and services directly to them. This is probably one of the most powerful marketing tools you can have, but precaution is needed as to not spam and annoy patients in the process.
And one other feature that is definitely worth mentioning is the ZAP feature. If a patient is in need of a rare medicine, for example, Co-Amoxiclav Suspension for their child, they are able to ZAP several pharmacies at once instead of ringing around. How convenient is that for the patient?
Pharmacies are able to respond as soon as they can to the message to let the patient know if they have any or not. Very handy indeed.
Allowing patient and pharmacies to communicate digitally
PharmZap provides an excellent alternative route of communication for patients and pharmacy that is helping to reduce phone calls in the pharmacy, reduce stress and improve workflow. Digital communication is far more convenient for both pharmacy and patient and it will eventually surpass telephone calls.
But it’s also an additional direct marketing tool which can help improve patient retention and satisfaction, and drive footfall and increase sales.
For pharmacies, this product is free to trial for the first 2 months and only £9.95 thereafter. For all those benefits you’ve seen today, I’d say that’s an investment very worthwhile.
If you’d like to talk to us about getting digital, or anything related, please feel free to contact us and we’d be glad to assist you. Also, don’t forget to check out The Ultimate Guide to Driving Your Pharmacy Business in the Digital Age, a free 70-page manual, that is really helping pharmacists understand the importance of new and emerging technologies.
Thanks for visiting and see you in the next learning module!
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