Since the start of the pandemic central pharmacies have struggled to keep up with the wave of demand produced by the COVID-19. Maintaining operations have been strenuous as 70% of hospital pharmacists took on more job responsibilities while hospitals depended on compounding pharmacies to gain access to more medications, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants. Staff have suffered as the pandemic created conditions that increased stress and burnout, resulting in healthcare workers leaving positions faster than they can be filled. In fact, 80% of pharmacies struggled to fill open vacancies for positions such as pharmacy technicians and front-end employees.
These issues have caused pharmacies to experience decreasing revenue and increasing costs. Pharmacies have also been facing drug shortages with 86% of hospital pharmacies reporting increasing drug shortages in 2020 for medications such as albuterol inhalers and neuromuscular blockers. Although many hospitals changed their pharmacy supply chain, the switch to manual processes have slowed the workflow for central pharmacies.
However, a growing emphasis on supporting central pharmacies through pharmacy automation has helped pharmacists to continue providing the services the public needs. Pharmacy operations such as barcode medicine identification and controlled substance monitoring can be accomplished through automation, which is also able to reduce medication errors by decreasing human touchpoints. Pharmacy automation technologies are especially important for inventory tracking. Medication management software is able to dispense medication, move drugs to locations with higher demand before they expire, and efficiently locate recalled medications for easy disposal, which all help to reduce the amount of inventory wasted each year.
With four in ten hospital pharmacists agreeing that operational technology is critical for success in 2020, the pharmacy automation market will continue to grow and support central pharmacies in helping people get the help they need.