Since the beginning of the pandemic, the world has relied heavily on essential workers to carry us through. But COVID-19 has taken a toll on the healthcare system, leaving fewer workers in nearly every discipline.
A recent survey showed that 18% of healthcare workers quit their jobs during the pandemic and another 12% were laid off. Of those still employed, more than 30% said that they have considered leaving their jobs, and approximately 80% of healthcare workers said that the national workforce shortage has negatively affected them and their places of employment.
Healthcare worker shortages are not news, but what may not be immediately obvious is how pharmacists and pharmacy techs figure into the equation. After all, their role is to make sure patients have lifesaving medications and treatments. And sadly, along with other industry sectors, pharmacy continues to experience major staffing shortages.
Regarding techs, there has been a crisis brewing for years with many people feeling overworked and underappreciated. Whether in a hospital or retail setting, the fact is that most people who interact with and fill medication bottles are pharmacy techs. And though they aren’t highly paid compared to other medical professionals and often have no pre-employment medical training, they are vital to the healthcare system.
Pharmacy techs help pharmacists fill and check prescriptions, ensuring patients get the right medication in the right amounts at the right time. Some even give vaccinations. It’s always been fast-paced, but the workloads and associated stress have increased significantly while staffing has failed to keep up. All of this is further exacerbated by a decline in the number of pharmacy graduates and increasing demand for their services. Add to that competition from other employers; lack of qualified applicants seeking employment; long training lead times; and loss of highly skilled trainers/mentors.
For pharmacy professionals, getting pulled in many directions within high-stress environments is a recipe for disaster—mistakes in the form of improperly filled prescriptions or worse. The need for Automatic Dispensing Cabinets (ADCS) with exceptional software has never been more necessary to ensure patient safety in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings. So, today's best-in-class ADCs must incorporate features specifically targeted toward safety, efficiency, and compliance.
The good news is that pharmacists and techs will also benefit greatly from ADCs and companion medication management software that is easy to learn/use while also delivering exceptional functionality. One of the most impactful ways today’s software is improving pharmacy management is through cloud-based access. Cloud-based software enables staff members to complete tasks from any PC—without the need to load or update the software on individual computers. This also means that dashboards and records remain easily viewable and up-to-date in real-time through common browsers.
With cloud-based software, pharmacists and other techs in understaffed settings who may be running from one thing to the next can use any workstation available to manage medication across multiple cabinets from one easy-to-use dashboard. This includes creating reports, configuring inventory, viewing discrepancies, locating critical low settings, identifying out-of-stock items, and other common tasks.
The latest release of TouchPoint Medical’s medLogic® combined with medDispense ADCs offer these along with several stand-out features that are extremely helpful in settings where staff is low and demand is high. For example, the tracked medication waste feature allows users to trace prescribed amounts against the amounts dispensed with reminders to document the unadministered amounts.
Safety and security are always top priorities when it comes to dispensing medication—especially in the face of staff shortages where mistakes are more likely to occur. When choosing an ADC and accompanying software, pharmacies should ensure that they look for software that includes specific built-in safety features like:
- On-demand stock report generation by item/medication—preferably with one-click functionality
- Configurable medication searching to reduce dispensing errors with configurable multi-character medication searches
- Lot number stocking to increase the traceability of medications
Pharmacies looking to improve efficiency even during challenging times will love benefits like:
- FIFO Stocking Workflow to ensure items are dispensed in a first-in/first-out manner
- Support for multi-item kits that allow pharmacies to create pre-defined multi-item kits for specific modalities procedures, or protocols
- Barcode stocking that eliminates typing, searching, and selecting to make stocking quicker and more efficient, especially when time and staff are limited
medLogic also offers a lot of flexibility when it comes to configuring modes for dispensing drawers with moves for secure linear, multi, and single-line items, including:
- Fractional dose stocking and dispensing with dispense, return, and waste functions that support decimal values to reduce waste
- Bulk item management with flexible charge capture rules for frequently dispensed bulk items
- High-definition laptop display with excellent options for both PharmacyCenter and NurSync modules
Robust features like these add up to better efficiency, safety, and flexibility for pharmacies and their essential workers. TPM’s medDispense ADCs powered by medLogic software incorporate all of these features along with industry-leading ergonomic designs. The addition of ergonomically designed equipment plays a large role in increasing on-the-job satisfaction, safety, and comfort for busy pharmacists and pharmacy techs in all healthcare settings. All of our equipment is designed to adapt to a variety of users and spaces—allowing valuable staff the freedom to work in ways that suit their individual needs. At TPM, we are pleased to offer a team dedicated to helping our clients select and implement all new equipment. Learn more about TPM’s medDispense ADCs and the latest release of cloud-based PharmacyCenter software, or Call (1) 800 947 3901 today.