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Disrupting the Pharmacy Industry
Tracey Robertson

By Tracey Robertson
On Jul 25, 2022

Read time
5 minutes

Disrupting the Pharmacy Industry

In 2019 at The Pharmacy Show we launched our mission and outlined a brand new approach to our development of pharmacy solutions. Sharing our pledge to “Listen, Act, Improve” was just the start and we were acutely aware that delivering tangible benefits was the only way we would engage our pharmacy audience. We revolutionised how we work at Cegedim and in doing so, we began to truly disrupt the pharmacy industry business solutions landscape.

In early discovery we walked in the shoes of our customers, we got behind the counter at pharmacies from small independents to large retail pharmacies and spent time watching and listening. The result was the same, pharmacy teams were bogged down with outdated systems, disjointed technology and workflows. New to the industry, I was flabbergasted by just how dated and clunky the systems were and how reliant pharmacy teams were on manual processes.

Customers were dealing with real business inefficiencies, but the truth was that there were simply no alternative options at their disposal, even if they had the time to look. At Cegedim we pledged to focus on simplifying the ecosystem that pharmacists were enduring by delivering an intelligent and powerfully simple digital pharmacy business solution.

The challenge excited me, there was so much opportunity to innovate, perhaps being new to the industry I was a little naive, but I could visualise the full business solution that we needed to introduce to help pharmacists and pharmacy businesses. Pharmacies needed intelligent systems, it wasn’t just about fixing the core PMR dispensing function, we needed to think wider and consider all areas of pharmacy that were riddled with inefficiencies due a disjointed and heavily fragmented landscape.

It soon became clear that there were six key pillars that mattered most to pharmacy. Core pharmacy needs such as stock and order management, an overly manual area that was creating huge amounts of wastage and inefficiency. Dispensing as a core service was draining resources and the knock on presented challenges around how pharmacies were, or were not in many cases, claiming and being paid for the work they were doing. Pharmacists were so caught up in the day to day of delivering patients’ prescriptions and services that they were unable to look at increasing revenue through the delivery of clinical services and were not able to thrive as retailers.

Our aim at Cegedim was to drive efficiency, positioning the technology to seamlessly deliver solutions and resolve the pain points seen in day to day working pharmacy practice. We committed to deliver an intelligent and powerfully simple digital pharmacy business solution that would work the way our customers needed it to work, wherever and however they chose to work.

Having identified the problems through directly witnessing the pain that pharmacy teams go through we established six key pillars which became the essential building blocks for our future system and ultimately our focus areas. Our next challenge was building a highly skilled team of experts and a roadmap to address these critical pharmacy challenges.

 

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We wanted to establish product and development teams that could address specific challenges across pharmacy and so we set about creating several individual teams that were oriented around these key pillars.

One such pillar is that of Pharmacy Intelligence, an area in which we were keen to drive innovation due to the data gaps in the industry. There was a real lack of data driven behaviours across Pharmacy due to the lack of credible data. The team focused on delivering critical pharmacy intelligence to our users the way they needed it most – it had to be timely, relevant and above all the data needed to be actionable in order to help our customers make better decisions.

Product Discovery is the ethos of our team, walking in the shoes of the customer and embedding our learnings at the centre of design and development was critical to our journey. Assembling the right team was tough, it was a learning journey for the existing team but with the hugely ambitious plans we also needed more resources to bolster the programme. I reached out to colleagues in the tech industry and sold them on the vision.

The challenge was our starting point, a 20-year-old software platform. It wasn’t attractive, developers typically want to work on new tech stacks, not modernise a heritage platform. Eventually I found committed heads who bought into my vison and the strategy, motivated to come and help make the industry great and our ethos and commitment to a journey of modernisation.

Some thought I was a bit nuts! Is it possible to modernise a heritage platform with no downtime for users? I knew the alternative of building a new software solution from scratch would take more time, more investment from the customers and downtime just wasn’t acceptable.

We had technology in the market that wasn’t performing and that wasn’t acceptable. The newly formed teams jumped in to help immediately and got started on the journey as quickly as we could. We created a hybrid solution building out from the heritage technology that today is working seamlessly alongside a new technology stack.

Pharmacy Solutions-1It’s taken almost three years, but we have created a whole new digital pharmacy business solution, a suite of five integrated products which support our pharmacy customers in delivering patient care whilst supporting the efficient running and management of their pharmacies.

We now have three new cloud solutions which include the Pharmacy Intelligence Hub, an intelligence, reporting and management platform which digitally connects users to their pharmacy stores to provide a real time view of critical pharmacy activity.

We have a new Pharmacy Services platform, providing a fast and intuitive mechanism to deliver Clinical Services whilst fully integrated into the anchor product (the PMR) to remove the need to re-key patient data.

Most recently the team have delivered a new Pharmacy Operations platform to aid our customers in the management of controlled drug registers. A starting point before the team evolve the platform to accommodate more critical pharmacy tasks.

In late 2021 the team released Hub Fulfilment Manager, Cegedim’s Hub & Spoke Platform, again a solution which is fully integrated into the core PMR. This solution removes a number of pain points that the team uncovered during their discovery exercises that were associated with remote fulfilment. All of the key needs were met and the team are actively working on the next stage of this journey.

And lastly, our flagship PMR Pharmacy Manager has gone from strength to strength as the team introduced a wealth of features such as a new Stock Inventory module, a pharmacy solution aimed at providing visibility of stock to drive customers towards a ‘just in time’ model of ordering meaning less stock sat on the shelves, the team have also been focused on reducing the stock wastage challenge seen in the industry. A wealth of key integrations have also been added into the platform to unlock those all-important efficiency drivers. We are super excited to have recently delivered phase one of our new Dispensing journey and in 2022 we look forward to rapidly bolstering this with more modules that deliver the flexibility and choice that pharmacies are demanding.

Our products have evolved extensively since we spoke to the market in 2019, but our journey continues. We remain committed to delivering regular value adding features to address the key needs of the market.

This is only the beginning of our story, when I stood on the stage at the Pharmacy Show I pledged on behalf of Cegedim to “Listen, Act, Improve” and we continue to innovate to drive efficiencies in the industry, whilst enabling our customers to adopt and embrace new revenue streams.

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