March 17, 2021

Written by George Lazenby

Pharmacy inventory management was a challenge long before the latest pandemic, which has shined an even brighter spotlight on the complex issues of supply and demand at the pharmacy and pharmacist levels. 

This month, the baton of problematic COVID-19 vaccine distribution and inventory was passed to pharmacists when roughly 6,500 Aldi, Walmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, Publix, CVS and other pharmacies were green lit to distribute the vaccine to their communities through their participation in the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program

 

The logistics are dizzying. If some of our country’s largest and most revered health systems faced challenges with scheduling vaccine appointments, ensuring compliance with the CDC’s guidelines for vaccine eligibility, and making sure they had enough – but not too many – vaccines on hand, how will chain and independent pharmacies fare?

 

As someone who speaks with OrderInsite’s customers in the pharmacy space daily, I have seen the industry evolve and I understand the immense pressure the profession was under pre-COVID. My concern is the impact the vaccine will have on retail pharmacists, most of whom lack the infrastructure, man power and technology to successfully carry out the lofty task in front of them.

 

Based on our team’s experience in pharmacy, pharmacy technology, data science and software engineering, we knew it was a problem in need of a solution, and that was the catalyst for OrderInsite. 

 

Through a combination of our deep industry knowledge and working hand-in-hand with our retail pharmacy clients, we’ve built sophisticated supply chain management solutions that deliver superior market insights, relevant data on demand, and better, more efficient inventory management and control. 

 

Innovation

Most pharmacy management systems we interact with weren’t built in the cloud, which can be problematic when introducing new functionality or even fixes. This is problematic at any time, but is especially challenging when changes that are on the scale of the COVID pandemic present.  That’s why we built the OrderInsite solution from the ground up on the most current technology, leveraging the cloud. These current technologies allow OrderInsite to provide a solution that can easily change and update when new challenges are present. One that is so flexible it can  manifest itself however our clients need it to within their existing systems and workflows.  

To demonstrate our speed to change, we’ve also committed to 10 new releases a year, most of which are customer-driven product enhancements, and our customers love it. 

This kind of innovation and focus on delivering innovation fast is where our chain pharmacies should have a leg up when it comes to the vaccine distribution issue. Because even when others in the ecosystem may not be talking to each other causing confusion and inefficiency, pharmacies leveraging the OrderInsite solution have a clearer view of the supply.

 

We can, for example, provide instant visibility into inventory levels across all locations within the chain. If a customer called their local pharmacy seeking a vaccine appointment, and the pharmacy was out of doses, they could quickly check to see when their next shipment would arrive as well as if other locations in the area had available doses should the customer be willing to go to another store. They could also signal other locations to reach out to the customer to help them schedule their vaccination. 

 

This level of insight and communication is important as pharmacists are increasingly viewed as providers and held to the same value-based care standards to enhance patient experience and satisfaction.  

 

At OrderInsite, we’ve heard time and again that our ability to quickly adapt to our customer’s needs is hugely valuable. When speed is critical, technology lag time inhibits pharmacists’ ability to do their jobs efficiently.

 

Vaccine distribution has been difficult, in part, because of varying requirements of the vaccine types. As new vaccine types/brands are introduced, pharmacies will have to quickly update their inventory to accurately reflect how many additional individuals they can vaccinate. This simply won’t be possible if it takes 60 to 90 days to make changes to their software. And while the delay will be bad for business, it’s ultimately those who will go unvaccinated that will suffer.

 

Data Analytics

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have only widely been used in technology specific to the healthcare industry for the past 10-15 years, and OrderInsite was at the forefront of harnessing AI and ML’s ability to provide next-level data analysis. This capability enables us to help our customers make informed decisions about their pharmacy operations.

 

The deployment of our algorithms is instrumental to pharmacists in three primary areas:

 

  1. Purchasing – Sophisticated predictive analytics look at order history and patterns in drug demand, predicted patient behavior, price fluctuation and other variables, which translates to accurate forecasting and tells pharmacists the precise quantities to buy, and when to buy them.
  1. Inventory – Smart purchasing decreases unbuyables and maximizes space by having the appropriate SKUs on shelf at the right time. This minimizes waste, ensures customers have the items they need, and maximizes profit.
  1. Compliance – Pharmacy compliance is under a microscope because of the opioid epidemic. Our technology provides the resources and real-time data that pharmacists need to remain compliant by, among other things, detecting suspicious drug orders and preventing diversion.

When stitched together, purchasing, inventory and compliance comprise a comprehensive dashboard that provides a real-time view of all pharmacy activities and how they work independently and cross-functionally. 

 

Customer Service

While our business is pharmacy technology, our innovative approach extends beyond our products. It’s not often that you hear a health tech SaaS company praised for its customer service, but if you speak to our pharmacy partners, I’m confident they will tell you that it’s unmatched.

 

I’ve been in health IT for more than 30 years, and have hand selected each member on our team for their people-first mentality. We refuse to cut corners with one-size-fits-all solutions. Our offerings are as flexible as they are scalable, which means we’re able to meet the unique needs of each of our partners.

 

In addition to monthly software updates, we’re in continuous conversation with our pharmacy leader partners to learn how we can better assist them so that they can best serve their customers while maximizing the bottom line. 

 

Our product suite is what makes OrderInsite the most comprehensive pharmacy technology solution available. Our knowledge, agility and genuine personability is what makes it the most trusted.

 

If you’re curious about OrderInsite’s ability to help solve your pharmacy supply chain issues, I would love to connect with you.

About The Author

George Lazenby
Co-Founder / CEO
George Lazenby is the CEO and co-founder of OrderInsite. He is an experienced CEO and Board Member with a demonstrated history of working in the health care industry and skilled in healthcare information technology (HIT), management, sales, executive management, and strategic planning. He was previously CEO of Emdeon (now Change Healthcare).

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