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How to reduce costs on your medicine delivery service

Restricting deliveries to certain people and older methods makes it harder to offer economically viable deliveries, argues Darren Taylor

Even when pharmacies understand the value of core services to customers, if managing them is a significant drain on time and resource, they can feel compelled to cut back on them.

Deliveries are a prime example, and I discussed in my previous blog why I believe pharmacies should persevere with deliveries, even in these tough financial times

I know first-hand, for instance, that many pharmacies in the UK are using their staff to make deliveries, rather than employing professionally trained delivery drivers. Even, in less than ideal cases, pharmacies are delivering prescriptions in taxis for distribution to patients.

First, this risks the secure delivery of medication. Second, it diverts staff time away from working with patients, impacts their ability to run additional services, and means that senior members of the business waste time managing the operations of drivers.

In cases where a valuable service is a drain on internal resources and budget, pharmacies should seek other ways to deliver it. This could be by investing in new technology or working with external suppliers who already have the infrastructure in place.

Embracing innovation and technology

In recent years, pharmacy, and the NHS more broadly, has made technological innovation a cornerstone of its development. Pharmacies could learn more from the nimble ways in which companies in other sectors have embraced digital innovation as a means to win market share.

Firms like lastminute.com in the travel sector, or ASOS in the retail market, have leveraged technology as a means to make the personalised, added-value services they offer economically viable.

One of the most obvious ways technology could enhance operations within pharmacies is in how medication gets to patients’ homes. This could be through the use of handheld devices in place of paper manifests to communicate delivery information, optimising delivery routes to make them as efficient and time-effective as possible, or introducing secure points of handover to maintain a chain of custody.

Pharmacy teams recognise that delivery is often the final contact they have with a patient, so the desire to restrict it to a trusted circle of staff and tried and tested methods is understandable.

But this makes it more difficult to create an economically viable delivery proposition. The efficiencies offered by technology – particularly relating to real-time tracking, reporting and delivery scheduling – not only remove the administrative burden, but allow pharmacies to offer deliveries that can meet their patients’ needs.

There’s no denying that the UK’s pharmacies face a more challenging environment. But if they can draw on the tools at their disposal and take lessons from other sectors, there are still opportunities.

Darren Taylor is chief development officer at CitySprint Healthcare

13 Comments

Brian Smith, Pharmacy technician

In my experience it's the bone idle that use and abuse a delivery service. It became so bad in a few places i worked we restricted the service to those that really needed it. We became so fed up of the lazy folk who were too busy doing other things and those who demanded everything delivering at a specific time in the morning as they were off out to bingo in the afternoon. Delivery services are only for those in real need. The rest can pick up their items themselves. I'm reminded of the wise saying "the more you do the more they want".

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

"I know first-hand, for instance, that many pharmacies in the UK are using their staff to make deliveries..."

So, better instead to use some faceless, anonymous goon from CitySprint that would hand meds to a chimpanzee if it would scrawl its finger across his handset.

Valentine Trodd, Community pharmacist

Shouldn't these 'articles' be clearly labelled as ADVERTISEMENTS?

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

With regards advertising do they have to pay for articles/adverts such as this Mr Waldron?

Jupo Patel, Production & Technical

Its 90 % of their income. Some would deliver by space shuttle if required.

Shaun Steren, Pharmaceutical Adviser

Another advert dressed up as an article. Stay classy C and D readers! 

Davesh Patel, Locum pharmacist

Why is it free in the first place ?

Stephen Eggleston, Community pharmacist

Disappointing article - I was expecting more emphasis on real examples of where technology could help e.g. with route planning

Frustrated Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

What did you expect? It's an advert for CitySprint.

Angela Channing, Community pharmacist

Tell the lazy F*ckers to get off their fat as* and come and pick it up for themselves ! 

Priyesh Desai, Superintendent Pharmacist

worthless article. Got enough to read as it is!!!!

b t, Manager

"Pharmacy teams recognise that delivery is often the final contact they have with a patient, so the desire to restrict it to a trusted circle of staff and tried and tested methods is understandable."

Friendly familiar staff doing deliveries gives comfort to elderly recepients and also breeds loyalty. This is why multiples do so badly when local Indpendents are nearby.

b t, Manager

"Pharmacy teams recognise that delivery is often the final contact they have with a patient, so the desire to restrict it to a trusted circle of staff and tried and tested methods is understandable."

It gives Indpendents a competitive advantage over the likes of the faceless multiples. Makes perfect economic sense as it encourages loyalty and continuity.

 

 

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