Medication being the essential need of every individual, pharmacy is the only business to run full-time throughout this COVID-19 crisis. They play a very important role alongside doctors and officials to fight this pandemic. During this period, there are many challenges that pharmacies face to operate their business smoothly and ensure their safety. As a pharmacy owner, to overcome every challenges there will be a lot of questions that will come up on your mind. Here are few for which I can help you with:
1. How can I control the drug shortage?
With an increase in fear, there is an increase in stockpiling among people, be it grocery or medicines. Although some of the distributors are not working, most of them are working hard to supply the necessary medicines to retailers. So, find the right distributors who don’t go out of your radar. If you are still facing drug shortage make sure you provide not more than 30 days medicine to the customers until it is very necessary. You can even promote generic medicines over branded medicines and make them understand how much they can save on it.
Once you stock up you can notify your customers on the availability or you can send reminder notifications to the chronic patients a few days before they run out of stock. This way you can build a healthy relationship with your customers which is the key aspect for growth in the pharma business.
Make sure to use the zero stock/minimum stock notifications in your POS, through which you will get notified on what stock is running out and you can reorder based on the same. And dont forget to keep in mind the shelf life of your medicines while you stock up since you may end up losing so much if you stock up in excess.
2. How to reduce walkins and at the same time not lose out on my revenue?
Its very simple.
a. Make your pharmacy available online so that customers can place orders by checking what is available in your inventory. Nowadays there are a lot of ways to do it, one way is by creating an online web platform for your shop and the other is by simply launching an app, specific to your pharmacy in the play store/appstore. This will greatly help people to check on the generic combinations, brands and place orders on their own. Customers can also upload prescriptions for confirmation of medical advice in addition to the order specificifications.
b. Start delivering orders to your customers’ doorsteps. Today we could see people are restricted from coming outside unnecessarily and there are timeline regulations imposed for in-store purchases. Since everyone is cautious enough to come out, which they have to be, offering home deliveries can minimize the risk of contamination to a greater degree. This will also reduce the workload for your workers in the store, during that limited hours.
3. How to overcome manpower shortage?
Manpower shortage is yet another challenge faced by most of the pharmacies around India. With the right delivery management app and online order taking platform you can manage huge number of orders with minimal staff and least skills ensuring minimal contact.
Interestingly in our research it was found that in every mid-level pharmacy there is one person who works full time on purchase entry with a separate system for himself. With purchase import feature in POS, you can directly import all of your purchase invoices with a single click which can save more than 80% of your time when compared to manual purchase entry work. This can remove the work of purchase entry person and free up your system for additional sales.
4. What kind of awareness-raising action do I have to take to educate my patients?
As a pharmacist with a wealth of knowledge, you can raise awareness of the situation and educate on the measures to be taken among your patients. If you think that someone has severe symptoms of COVID-19, direct him/her to the nearby health centers. Else if the symptoms are mild provide them with necessary medicines and ask them to self-isolate atleast for 14 days. Raising awareness among your customers, and keeping touch with them at regular intervals is a great way to keep them stuck to you for a longer time.
You can place posters on your doors or outside walls to raise awareness of the symptoms and even redirect symptomatic patients from entering the pharmacy. In this way, symptomatic patients can be asked to wait outside and the necessary medicines can be fetched for them.
5. What are the precautionary measures that I have to take for keeping my employees and patients safe?
During this epidemic, pharmacies are responsible not only for the distribution of drugs but also for taking care of their staff and patients. For that to happen, your warriors need to be equipped enough to fight it. Be it delivery service or instore selling, necessary precautionary measures have to be followed to ensure the safety of everyone.
- Keep alcohol-based hand sanitizer at each patient contact point in the pharmacy
- Encourage staff to maintain minimal contact and 2-metre distance between themselves and the patient
- Disinfect all frequently touched surfaces
- Encourage your staff to bring a change of clothes to wear following the completion of their shift at the pharmacy.
- Consider using personal protective equipment (mask, gloves, long sleeve gown, eye protection)
- Promote regular thorough hand washing for 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Hand hygiene is important for the prevention of transmission of microorganisms and viruses.
- Promote self-isolation for staff displaying symptoms of respiratory illness
Why are these so important?
“With greater power comes the greater responsibility”. Being said that the real power will be tested only at times like this. Start acting today and make sure you break the spread and contribute to the greater good of your entire locality2