The Rise of Automated Pharmacies in the World of COVID and Beyond

While the COVID-19 pandemic created many adverse effects for the general population, one positive consequence was the rise of new, automated technologies in central pharmacies across the country. In short, pharmacy automation technologies have been the lifeline for hospitals. 

There is no question that pharmacies felt the pressure during the pandemic, as 70% of hospital pharmacists admitted to taking on new job responsibilities. In March 2020, prescription demand across the country jumped by nearly 15%, which led to a general feeling of exhaustion amongst pharmacists as higher prescription volume is associated with greater risk of staff burnout. In May 2021, 80% of pharmacies reported struggles to full open positions. If the burdens of the pandemic weren’t enough, healthcare workers are retiring faster than new recruits can be trained, which further augments the issue of understaffed pharmacies.

The manual processes in a pharmacy from prescription refills to tracking medical history to inventory management slow the workflow for central pharmacies. Pharmacy automation technologies can expedite these operations and attend to more patients in a shorter amount of time. There are many opportunities for automation technologies from compounding medication to barcode medicine identification to remote-dispensing systems. The rise of pharmacy automation is all around beneficial, as the technology reduces human touchpoints, leaving fewer opportunities for error while improving patient care. 

The technology works more efficiently than a human, with an automated dispensary dispensing up to 700 medications per hour compared to only 120 medications done by a pharmacy technician. Also, the operating cost is drastically cheaper. The average salary of a technician is $18 per hour while an automated dispensary functions at an average cost of $12 per hour. Read in the infographic below to learn more about the impact of automated technologies on the pharmaceutical industry.

Impact of COVID 19 on Central Pharmacies