Running a pharmacy is a difficult job. Business owners and managers need to balance providing excellent customer care with maintaining low operating costs. The best way for pharmacies to ensure that their prices are low enough that patients can afford their medications is to keep costs low, though, so read on to find out about three proven strategies for optimizing a pharmacy’s operating costs so those savings can be passed on.

1. Automate Processes

Automating as many pharmacy processes as possible helps to reduce both waste and employee workloads, which can help pharmacies deal with understaffing issues without having to hire new pharmacists. To take a look at just one example, installing an Automated Tablet Packaging System can help pharmacies automate up to 100% of solid oral medication fulfillment services. This, in turn, reduces waste by ensuring that each order is correct and the right pouch size is chosen for packaging depending on the contents, providing significant savings on consumables.

Automating pouch verification and inspections can add an extra level of savings. Instead of hiring a new employee just to check quantities of medications and verify that patients are getting the right pills, an automated system can analyze the shape, color, and weight to perform the same task much more efficiently. Pharmacy owners will love automating medication packaging and verification since it will cut labor costs and reduce issues with human error. The pharmacy’s existing employees will also love having less tedious busywork and being able to focus more on patient consultations and other essential tasks that can only be performed by trained pharmacists.

2. Pursue Partnerships

Caring for patients should always be a pharmacy’s top priority, and pursuing data-sharing partnerships with other healthcare organizations can make that task easier while simultaneously helping to optimize pharmacies’ operating costs. Medical patients with chronic conditions and multiple healthcare providers often take multiple medications, and pharmacists often waste a good deal of time and effort trying to communicate and collaborate with care providers about refills, medication changes, and other issues. Forming data-sharing partnerships with hospitals and doctors’ offices makes it easier for pharmacists to gather and provide essential patient data, helping the pharmacy save money on labor costs and external communications.

3. Implement High-Reliability Medicine Initiatives

High-reliability organizations (HROs) are healthcare facilities that provide better patient care with lower associated operating costs to ensure optimal safety and efficiency. The same principles can be applied to medication management at pharmacies, where it is referred to as high-reliability medicine (HRM). It requires analyzing opportunities for enhancing the standardization of medications and the elimination of variations in drug therapy that don’t benefit patients.

HRM teams consist of project managers and interdisciplinary teams of clinicians and pharmacists. The pharmacists work to identify formulary restrictions and changes, set maximum doses of new medications, and ensure compliance with changing industry standards. Once an HRM team’s recommendations have been finalized, they can be implemented system-wide to optimize pharmacy workflows, which helps to reduce operational costs.

The Bottom Line

Reducing operational costs in a safe and efficient way helps both pharmacies and patients. It can cut back on the amount of labor required to fill prescriptions, reduce medication errors that lead to waste, and identify lower-cost medications for patients who are underserved due to the inability to pay for expensive prescription drugs. The first step in any optimization plan should always be to perform a comprehensive audit to identify areas for improvement, but most pharmacies can benefit from at least one of the strategies outlined above.