Pharmacy U

Certified Women’s Health expert uses automation to tackle pharmacy workflow


“You can’t change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”

– Buckminster Fuller


By Niki Shah B.Pharm RPh NCMP


With increasing pressure on margins, declining reimbursement rates, and thrust to expand services, pharmacists must improve workflow in order to reduce the cost of delivering medication and find ways to thrive in the current dog-eat-dog market.

Being the children of a technological age, pharmacists should be capable of navigating a maze of management obstacles and step up the level of investment in automation.

Redesigning workflow with automation

The automated workflow system is defined as the products that can improve productivity and efficiency by automating tasks.

As the soul of the pharmacy, it is important to set up smooth workflow in the dispensary for the benefit of patients and also the pharmacy team. Fluid workflow helps set an atmosphere conducive to offering outstanding patient service.

There’s no need to discount automation based on pharmacy size, volume or income. Today’s pharmacy automation is all about scalability. There are a wide variety of options available to suit each pharmacy’s unique needs and with an eye to keeping costs within reason.

Real and justifiable benefits of automation for business growth

With today’s increased workload the biggest concern can be the rise in human errors and fear of compromising patient safety. Workflow automation has shown to reduce dispensing errors, improved efficiency, and more. Enhanced workflow efficiency facilitates customer interaction, improves patient relationships and patient satisfaction, and drives sales.

For hospitals, this state-of-the-art technology saves money by lowering the cost-per-dose and minimizes the risk of errors, particularly when medications are compounded. Automated methadone dispensing machines offer accuracy and efficiency in the strenuous methadone dispensing. Some robotic systems can fill prescriptions after hours and have them ready for patients the next morning.

Robotic compliance packaging improves the pharmacy’s performance by enhancing quality measures and refill rates, and therefore boosts revenues.

Pharmacy automation allows pharmacists to spend more one-on-one time with patients to provide more income-generating expanded services.

Automation can satisfy the need to add capacity for potential high volume customers, business opportunities like contracts for LTC facilities without expanding the building or moving to a bigger location.

The point is not how we use a technology, but how it uses us

Before opting for automation, weigh the cost of a machine against the cost of labour and time to perform the specific dispensary tasks and figure out how you can regain your investment.

Whether you want to increase efficiency or grow the business, it may be time to investigate whether automation can save you time and add capacity to the current business model.

Transform with technology to relieve long-term threat posed by finite reimbursement

Pharmacists are noticing the benefits and realizing that we need to discover more innovative approaches for the future. The visionaries are finding ways to turn today’s challenges into opportunities to remain competitive with automation. Isn’t it time that we, as pharmacists, learn to harness technologies in ways that support our professional aspirations?


Niki Shah B.Pharm RPh, NCMP is a Certified Women’s Health Expert at Lovell Drugs in Ontario.