Chains, independents make some gains in technology


business outlook 2001 cover story technology questions



Chains, independents make some gains in technology

Independent pharmacies that said they were going to take the Internet plunge in 2001 kept their word. Twenty-nine percent of independents dove right in and currently host a Web site. This compares with 21% who told us in our business outlook survey last year that they intended to launch a site in 2001.

Three-quarters of chain executives responding to this year's Drug Topics survey said they have a Web site. One-fourth of them said they have not yet gone dot-com. This scenario was exactly the same as last year's.

Of those chains that are Web-less, 27% said they plan to take the Internet plunge within the next year; but almost three-quarters of them are not planning such a move, at least not in 2002. On the independent side, 14% of independents that do not have a Web site plan to launch one within the next year; 86% do not plan to get wired.

Chains are ahead of independents when it comes to automated dispensing systems. However, only 19% of chain executives said Yes when asked whether they have an automated dispensing system, while a whopping 81% still have not adopted this technology.

Almost all of the participating independents (96%) said their pharmacy does not employ automated dispensing technology. Last year, almost the same number (95%) gave the same answer.

Don't expect most chains or independents to be automated next year. Only 30% of chain executives who said they do not have an automated dispensing system plan to install one in 2002. Seventy percent do not plan to install automated dispensing in 2002.

Among independent respondents that currently do not employ automated dispensing technology, only 3%—the same percentage as in 2000—said they plan to automate in the next year. Most of the independent respondents (97%) said they have no plans to install automated dispensing next year.

Chain executives are beginning to take the concept of central filling operations more seriously. Nine out of 10 chain executives said their chains do not have such a system, but 26% of those expect to add them in 2002. Last year, when 97% of chain executives said their chain does not have such a system, only 17% said they expected to add this service in 2001.

Do chains and independents have in-store access to the Internet? Half of the chains do, up from only one-third that said Yes last year. Twenty-six percent of chains plan to add Internet access in 2002. Of independents, there are still about six out of 10 that currently have in-store access to the Internet. Of those independents that do not have such access, 24% plan to add Internet access in 2002.

Chains and independents haven't gained any momentum in terms of accepting prescriptions sent directly to their computers. Thirty-six percent of chain executives said they have this capability, compared with 11% of independents. These figures are similar to those of last year, when 37% of chains and 13% of independents said they have this capability.

This scenario may all change in 2002. Thirty-six percent of chain respondents that do not accept prescriptions via the computer said they would have this capability in 2002. Of the independents, 28% said they would add this capability next year.

Sandra Levy


Sandra Levy. Chains, independents make some gains in technology.

Drug Topics


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