Current Trends in Pharmacy Practice - The ScriptPro Blog

  • Current Trends in Pharmacy Practice

  • By ScriptPro
    October 25, 2018

    As with many industry segments, business trends shift quickly within the pharmacy sector, often mirroring many of the same developments impacting the healthcare industry as a whole. Current pharmacy practice trends include the quickening pace of innovation and automation, shifting demographic and legislative landscapes, as well as the drive to enable pharmacists to take on a greater role as a member of a patient’s primary care team.

    The increasing pace of innovation

    Advancements in healthcare technology continue to drive innovation in retail and ambulatory pharmacy. New health information technology (HIT) and the increasing awareness and use of robotic dispensing systems have made pharmacy operations faster and more efficient, while at the same time improving patient safety. Tech innovations have also led to more streamlined and coordinated workflows, which are helping pharmacies optimize operations throughout their entire drug delivery cycle.

    Increasing onboarding of tech solutions are allowing pharmacies to offset mounting economic realities, which continue to shrink profit margins across all pharmacy sectors. Automation solutions, which include everything from robotic systems to integrated workflow and pharmacy software, are enabling pharmacies to re-prioritize resources. This allows them to expand value-added offerings such as telepharmacy services, long-term care, and mail order, as well as improve efficiencies based on centralized service models.

    Specialty pharmacy continues to grow

    Specialty drugs will continue to claim a larger share of pharmacy industry revenues over traditional brand-name drugs. They now represents over 30% of the prescription market ,and growth over the next five years for specialty drugs is estimated to exceed 40% of the market. There are unique factors for community and retail pharmacies to consider, and take action on, in order to work toward placing themselves in a position to handle the increased volume of these more expensive specialty drugs, given the important clinical requirements.

    Patient expectations: personalized, one-on-one care

    One of the benefits of the proliferation of robotic dispensing solutions in pharmacies is that it has freed pharmacists and pharmacy staff from some of the more repetitive tasks traditionally assigned to them, allowing them to the spend more time interacting with patients as a contributing member of their comprehensive healthcare team. Additionally, a continuing shortage of primary care providers is expected to continue, making investing in automated systems even more important heading into the next several years. As a result, it will continue to be important for pharmacies to embrace these changes in order to position themselves competitively and meet the evolving demands of patients. Operational flexibility and willingness to evolve to meet these challenges should be key components of any pharmacy’s strategy.

    Demographic and legislative shifts

    America’s population continues to age. With this reality has come an increase in Medicare beneficiaries – as of 2017, there were more than 42 million beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare – and having the capability to service them is a priority, now, more than ever. This growth has coincided with a large increase in Medicare Part D plans that are included as part of a preferred pharmacy network. The result is that it has become essential for pharmacies to be able to participate in these preferred networks.

    In order to accomplish this, pharmacies are having to adhere to a stricter set of performance metrics, per the criteria to participate measured by the Star ratings system. This rating system is designed to judge a plan’s quality and performance for the services offered and high scores allows pharmacies to participate in these coveted preferred network plans.

    Keeping an eye on these trends will benefit both retail and ambulatory pharmacies today and in the years to come.