September 23, 2019

Slow Tech Adoption is Impacting the Pharmacy Business

By Paul O’Hanlon, Managing Director, Omnicell UK & Ireland

New survey results released this month by Omnicell UK have found that 87% of pharmacists believe the profession has been slow to adopt new technology when compared to other sectors. The data also revealed an over-riding consensus that automation within pharmacy could improve both patient and care home services.  In fact, 80% of pharmacists believe that automation can improve patient services and 72% of pharmacists believe it can improve services for care homes. Such is its importance and relevance in today’s market, nearly three-quarters (73%) of those polled believe there should be an increased focus on the use of technology and automation on the national pharmacy agenda.

The survey results have been released as part of our new campaign to raise awareness of the importance new technology brings to improve patient safety standards and support pharmacies in a challenging environment. Last year the Department of Health and Social Care disclosed that in England 237 million mistakes occur every year at some point in the medication process1.  These errors cause serious issues for patient safety, but also place a significant cost burden on an already stretched NHS. Omnicell’s campaign ‘We are Automation’ demonstrates how technology can free up staff time by reducing administrative and manual tasks.  This enables them to spend more time on face to face patient care as well as exploring new revenue streams. The campaign will include trade activity, as well as the launch of an updated website.

This survey and campaign launch comes hot off the heels of the release of the new CQC Medicines in Health and Adult Social Care report (Learning from risks and sharing good practice for better outcomes).  The report categorises the six most common areas of risk with medicines within healthcare:

  • Prescribing, monitoring & review
  • Administration
  • Transfer of care
  • Supply, storage & disposal
  • Workforce capacity & competence
  • Reporting and learning from incidents

The report goes on to highlight the impact of challenging staffing levels resulting in missed doses, poor auditing, transfer of care and communication.  It shines a spotlight on the number of medication errors still being reported which result in severe patient harm, health deterioration and in worse-case scenario, even death. And yet, technology exists which virtually eradicates all of these issues. 

Whilst the sector has been very slow when compared to other industries in harnessing and recognising the benefits of new technology solutions – it’s heartening to see that looking to the future there could be an increased focus on the issue, helping community pharmacies to survive and thrive in an ever-challenging marketplace.

With increased pressures and time-constraints on pharmacists and support staff, the Omnicell survey explored the importance of additional revenue streams for the future of pharmacy businesses.  88% of those interviewed believe that introducing technology to support the business could help pharmacists explore additional patient services and new revenues.

Crucially, pharmacists questioned believe automation would provide them with additional confidence in:

  • Patient safety (77%)
  • Providing patients with increased face to face time (75%)
  • Stock re-ordering (72%)
  • Managing complex patient medication regimes (57%)

Pharmacists who have invested in Omnicell technology said:

“We wanted an automated solution that would centralise the dispensing process for our medication adherence packaging to free up staff time to be spent better at the counter with patients.  They should be engaging with patients about the broader range of services we offer. Since installing the VBM earlier this year we are now producing packs for six out of our ten branches as well as fulfilling prescriptions for two care homes. What has really impressed us was the vision checking system and the accuracy of the machine.”


“Omnicell eMAR has allowed us to bring our processes into the 21st century by using a digital, state-of-the-art solution, as well as generating additional revenue.  This means that we have been able to expand our services to further support the community.”


Whilst there is no doubt that many pharmacies are currently operating within a challenging environment, recognising the benefits that technology can bring might just be the answer for both patient safety and the future of the business.

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