How COVID-19 Continues to Impact Central Pharmacies  (INFOGRAPHIC)


Brian Wallace, Founder & President, NowSourcing

As COVID-19 continues to rage around the world, pharmacy automation continues to help hospital systems keep up with the wave of demand.  82% of hospital pharmacists say COVID-19 changed their top technology initiatives.  In fact, the global market for pharmacy automation is expected to reach nearly $8 billion by 2024.  

Pharmacies have been under a lot of pressure while trying to provide for the public.  70% of hospital pharmacists have taken on new job responsibilities during the pandemic while compounding pharmacies were called on to fill hospital gaps, such as medications and hand sanitizers.  In March 2020, prescription demand across North America jumped by almost 15% as 86% of hospitals changed medication-use guidelines.  In terms of staffing, 75% of pharmacists in January 2020 reported symptoms of burnout.  The pandemic is also causing healthcare workers to retire faster than new recruits can be trained.  In May 2021, 80% of pharmacists reported struggles to fill open positions.  This has led to facilities increasing wages and benefits to attract more workers.  

A big issue pharmacies are facing is the increasing amount of costs compared to the decreasing amount of revenue due to the implementation of infrastructure for P.P.E. and physical distancing, drop in non-elective procedures, and time and money needed to address critical drug shortages.  The pandemic has worsened the issue of drug shortages with 86% of hospital pharmacists reporting increasing drug shortages in 2020.  In response, 94% of pharmacies made changes to their supply chain, however, manual processes have significantly slowed the workflow for central pharmacies. 

Thankfully, pharmacy automation technologies can help relieve some of the pressure.  Automation can be used for operations such as inventory management, tracking medical history, and compounding medication.  Some other benefits of automation include the reduction of medication errors and human touchpoints, allowing fewer opportunities for error while improving patient care.  

Technology can help save time and money as well.  For example, automated dispensing can pick up about 700 medications per hour while costing only two cents for each medication picked.  Medication management software can help with drug recalls that usually take up to 10 staff hours to address manually.  Technology can also aid in inventory tracking, especially for the 16% of hospital pharmaceutical inventory that is ultimately not used and needs to be located and disposed of.  Technology allows medication to be dispensed on a first-in-first-out basis, moved to a higher demand location before they expire, and quickly located for easy disposal during recalls.  In 2020, four in ten hospital pharmacists have even stated that operational technology such as controlled substance tracking and automated dispensing cabinets is critical for success. 

Pharmacy automation is in need now more than ever to help central pharmacies continue providing for the public.  


Impact of COVID 19 on Central Pharmacies

Brian WallaceAbout the Author: Brian Wallace is the Founder and President of NowSourcing, an industry leading infographic design agency in Louisville, KY and Cincinnati, OH which works with companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s. Brian runs #LinkedInLocal events, hosts the Next Action Podcast, and has been named a Google Small Business Adviser for 2016-present. Follow Brian Wallace on LinkedIn as well as Twitter.