GHQ PHARMACY COUNTER
things—such as interact with patients and build those loyalty-fostering
Glaves describes ScriptPro’s robots as looking like enclosed shelves or
bays. They come in different sizes, and a pharmacy needs only one robot.
The different sizes dictate how many drugs the robot can store, and the
range is 50 to 225. Medication cells inside the robot contain the drugs.
When a prescription is received, the robot verifies it contains that
particular medication. Then the robotic arm selects the correct size
vial, scans the barcode of the medication cell to ensure accuracy, and
then counts directly into the vial the correct number of pills. The system affixes the labels and auxiliary warnings to the vial and presents
the filled vial to a technician and pharmacist to make final checks.
“From a pay perspective, our robots work for $10 to $16 an hour,
depending on the size of the system,” says Glaves, who adds that robots
can be rented, leased or purchased. “That’s generally less than what the
average technician costs, especially when you add in benefits, training,
turnover and the other associated staff expenses.”
ScriptPro can also offer pharmacies a back-end Third Party
Management System that handles all the accounting and money man-
agement associated with a pharmacy. Current clients include supermar-
ket chains of various sizes, including one that operates only two stores.
The system takes all the financial data from a pharmacy and, with its
staff members and technology, oversees the insurance-claims process by
determining which bills have been paid and which have not. The system
also handles financial reconciliation, generates reports, points out ways
in which the pharmacy can generate more revenue and annually reviews
the pharmacy’s entire financial operation on site and in person.
“Your pharmacist is very expensive, so you need to find the right
partner to help collect and increase your cash flow so the accounts
receivable turns into cash at a faster rate,” says Shafi Shilad, vice president of business development at ScriptPro. He notes that even though
pharmacy may represent a small percentage of a supermarket’s revenue,
in actual dollars it might be the same as that of a drug chain.
“ScriptPro technology in front (pill dispensing) makes it more effi-
cient. In the back, it collects faster and it identifies opportunity where
you can make more money,” Shilad says.
QS/1 takes a slightly different approach to automating supermarket
pharmacies. Unique to QS/1, says Wilson, is that its pharmacy operating system components are designed to interface, or work together, and
that its Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, for example, is not an
add-on to another system.
“Typically, the supermarket is not going to generate the extreme
high volume where you could even consider replacing technicians with
machines,” he says. “No matter what your volume is, you never replace
them because somebody has to maintain and replenish those robotics.
The idea is to take away as many mundane tasks as you can that do not
require a human touch.
“To take advantage of the IVR—it would typically be a refill,” Wilson
adds. “Somebody’s going to call in, and they’ve got the opportunity
to enter their prescription number, which automatically goes into the
system. The technician or pharmacist can set it up so it automatically
submits the claim, and when that’s paid by the insurance company, it
will print the label. The IVR is entry-level automation. It’s a piece of
technology that everybody can take advantage of, no matter what your
volume is. What it does is free that pharmacist and technician up from
the phone calls. Of course, with the IVR, the patient always has the
opportunity to speak to someone.”
The IVR also sends a message to the patient via phone, email or text
that the prescription is ready for pickup. That works well for the super-
market shopper who wants to drop off a prescription before shopping
and pick it up before leaving the store.
The Point Of Sale software complements the IVR because it gives the
pharmacist the chance to post messages and reminders to the customer.
When the prescription is picked up, for example, a message might tell
the patient to talk to the pharmacist for specific instructions on how the
medicine works and how to take it.
While ScriptPro and QS/1 offer the supermarket pharmacy all sorts
of automation possibilities, Uniweb focuses on the physical setup of the
“We provide an efficient solution to maximize space and improve
throughout,” Mackert says.
He notes that Uniweb’s Modular Enclosures can help the supermar-
ket pharmacy create space for consultation and immunizations. Its
Flexible Counters can be reconfigured without waste or work disrup-
tions, and its Adjustable Height Workstations offer adjustable ranges
for sitting, standing or preset positions, and that all under-counter and
above-counter work accessories move with the work surface.
If supermarkets are willing to make an investment in their pharma-
cies, the robotics, software and store design elements are available to
make them more efficient. As most retailers know, that all-important
element called “time” is money.
“Supermarket pharmacies are in an ideal position to leverage the
existing loyal customer base of the grocery shopper by providing a
great value-added service—easy access to a pharmacist,” Wilson says.
“Building that relationship with a pharmacist creates trust with the
patient and increases the value of the supermarket to the community.