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The three sources of data that can improve your bottom line

The big data era is having a profound effect on society

Community pharmacies could benefit from joining the big data revolution too, says Positive Solution's Charlie Denwood

The big data era is having a profound impact on all aspects of our society, and the pharmacy sector is no exception. The proliferation of data presents pharmacists with a number of challenges, but also significant opportunities to drive efficiencies and improve results for their business.

From knowing your most profitable over the counter (OTC) offering, to determining which patients are eligible to approach to offer the winter flu jab, information can be key when it comes to driving pharmacy sales and business growth.

Here are three sources and practical applications of data that you can use within your pharmacy to make a significant difference to your bottom line:

Wholesale purchase process

Data can play a key role in helping you to cut costs and increase margins when purchasing from wholesalers. The right data allows you to take advantage of the best options available to your pharmacy.

When going through the ordering process to buy from wholesalers, different aspects - such as the specific brand of drugs, the amount they have in stock and the cost - all create high volumes of data. This means that finding the most competitive price is often complex, and thus overlooked, and instead pharmacists often follow the most convenient option that fits the criteria for their pharmacy.

However, order management technology can be used to handle and process this data more effectively, ensuring you buy stock at the most competitive prices available from suppliers. Not only will save this time, it can also deliver significant cost savings for your business.

Making the most of PMR data

The PMR system is the cornerstone of any pharmacy, but its full capabilities are often overlooked. One cause of this is the failure to make use of the data available within a system. Patient data, for example, can include information relating to customers who are eligible for medicines use reviews (MURs), flu jabs, or those who purchase repeat medicines and may require consultancy services.

As well as providing possible sources of revenue, using data in this way can help improve the quality of service delivered to patients. Patient data can also include information concerning OTC purchases, allowing data to drive further improvements in this aspect of care.

Using EPoS data to drive OTC sales

While the main purpose of an electronic point of sale (EPoS) system is to record your OTC sales, the data that it captures can be a goldmine when driving merchandising activity in your pharmacy.

So analysing your OTC sales can help you to determine the best sellers in your pharmacy, while you can also use supplementary data to track this against both regional and national statistics. This will allow you to refresh and tailor your stock in accordance to demand, refresh your shop displays to reflect your best sellers, remove any dead stock and encourage more customer interest.

As well as driving additional revenue through sales, effective use of data in this way can help also help you avoid having too much cash tied up in stock.

Community pharmacies harbour a rich amount of data which, if collected and used properly, can significantly enhance business operations. Information contained within pharmacy IT systems can not only play a key role in improving the quality of provided services for patients, it can also help to streamline day-to-day activities for your staff.

Crucially, when used to its full potential, data can help to shape business models in such a way as to maximise cost savings. All the information is there, so why not make the most of it?

Charlie Denwood is managing director of IT systems supplier Positive Solutions 

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Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

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