Are you ready for e-prescribing?

No matter how small you are, technology makes you mighty, writes Megan Kazantzis

E-prescribing is one of the largest and most significant changes the industry has experienced since the computerisation of pharmacies. There are many benefits of e-prescriptions, including no more loss of paper scripts and an improved customer experience.

E-prescribing has the potential to impact workflows in your pharmacy and for your patients in a way that improves convenience and brings pharmacy into line with consumer retail experiences in e-commerce, online banking, food delivery and transport.

Recent studies in nations that already use e-prescribing show that 87% of patients prefer e-scripts to paper.

But with the imminent widespread roll out of e-prescribing, there is a need to work through its impact on the industry and how pharmacists will contend with it.

New competitors

By taking prescriptions digital, it opens up the competitor landscape. E-prescriptions inevitably leads to a proliferation of online pharmacies, as has been observed in other countries.

Capitalising on lower operating costs, online pharmacies will promise an end-to-end solution for patients to order and have their medications delivered without the need to go to a physical pharmacy, presenting a competitive pressure for community pharmacies to match that convenience.

Online pharmacies will be able to play a larger role in the Australian marketplace, leveraging seamless digital experiences and the ability to offer a wider breadth of products. We’ve already seen ‘Amazon Pharmacy’ register in Australia – signalling what’s coming.

Government funding during COVID-19 has seen an explosion of telehealth providers enter the market, many of which have struck relationships with pharmacies, meaning many are prescribing remotely and teaming up directly with pharmacies so patients can get medication quickly.

So how does the humble community pharmacy compete in this new world? They need to play to customer demands – offering services like online ordering, online payment and delivery.

No matter how small you are, you can be mighty when it comes to getting tech savvy and offering these conveniences your customers are demanding – many are already integrated directly with your dispensing software and with government funding still available for medication delivery for vulnerable patients, it doesn’t cost you any more to provide these services.

New workflows

E-scripts are also changing pharmacy workflows with many having to think about how they handle mobile scripts, how they manage patient confusion and education and how you can ensure this doesn’t compromise patient care. 

So how does the humble community pharmacy work in this new world? Well, if you’re already using a dispensing platform, processing e-prescriptions is not actually that different to processing a paper script. The token model driving e-prescribing is simple and suits all dispense systems – it doesn’t require more investment in new technologies or add-on hardware.

For patients who prefer e-prescriptions, the new system will reduce or even eliminate the need for paper scripts on file at your pharmacy, reducing the customer loyalty effect that scripts on file have traditionally provided. However, scripts that you previously kept on file in drawers will now be in a digital script wallet on your script management software. This digital script file improves pharmacy efficiency and makes the repeat fulfilment process smoother for both patient and pharmacy.

Preparing for e-prescriptions

Increasing your focus on patient convenience, be it through frictionless ordering, payment, express lanes and/or home delivery, is paramount if you want to thrive in an e-prescription environment.

Pharmacists are consistently ranked as one of the most trusted healthcare professionals by patients. By providing continued excellence in customer service, combined with hyper-convenient patient experiences, patients will be less inclined to chase a different experience through online pharmacy and remain a key member of your community.

Megan Kazantzis is an in-house pharmacist at MedAdvisor.

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