Using Data Analytics to Manage Pharmacy Inventory


Crunching the numbers can help pharmacies stay on top of their inventory.

Data analytics can be a powerful tool in managing pharmacy inventory. By analyzing data on product usage, ordering patterns, and patient demand, pharmacists can optimize their inventory levels, reduce waste and avoid stock-outs.

With the growing volume of data available, pharmacists can leverage analytics tools to gain insights into inventory patterns, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions.

For example, analytics can identify high-demand products, forecast demand, and optimize stock levels. Additionally, analytics can be used to identify product trends, enabling pharmacists to proactively adjust their inventory and stay ahead of the curve.

Scott Person, PharmD, product owner of Bluesight, which provides medication intelligence software, noted the best way to manage inventory is to know how much you are going to need, how much you have on hand, and how much is on the way.

“Health care technology is a continually improving and necessary component of today’s complicated pharmacy supply chain,” he said. “Carrying the right amount of inventory will ensure that the necessary medications are on-hand and reduce waste. Plus, buying the best priced medication will decrease spend. Being able to accurately predict utilization based on active medication orders and having accurate inventory counts is ideal.”

With data analytics, pharmacists can determine the perfect inventory levels for each product, ensuring that they have enough stock to meet patient demand without overstocking and creating waste.

Speaking of waste, by using data analytics to track expiration dates and product usage, pharmacists can reduce waste by minimizing expired or unused inventory.

Pharmacists can also use data analytics to forecast patient demand for specific products, helping them to order the right amount of inventory at the right time, minimizing stock-outs and backorders. Plus, by analyzing purchasing patterns, pharmacists can identify opportunities to negotiate better pricing and reduce costs.

Rex Swords, RPh, group vice president of centralized services for Walgreens, noted pharmacy renewal, a new data analytics system, is one of the largest transformations in Walgreens history. The innovative system uses historical data to more accurately predict and replenish a store’s inventory, ultimately empowering pharmacy teams to provide the right drug to the right patient at the right time.

“We’re creating a new, modern platform using the latest software technology to support our pharmacy teams and enable them to spend more time on patient care,” he said. “Pharmacy renewal is an adaptive platform that will grow with us into the future and enable us to adapt and build on the platform to respond to our needs as they evolve over time. As part of this, we’re building a new pharmacy dispensing platform that makes it easier for our pharmacists and technicians to fill prescriptions, manage inventory and provide additional clinical interactions.”

Additionally, these pharmacy inventory and processing updates solve for more than 200 workflow and technology pain points, which then provides workflow flexibility and improves team members’ day-to-day work, allowing them more time to meet the needs of customers and patients.

Esco Pharmacy in New York City uses a point-of-care system to generate data on products moving quickly, so it can buy more when it detects low prices or buy extra for more rebates.

“We automatically generate lists of no-sale products during the past six months to allow us to stop stocking the products or return to minimize total loss,” said owner Danny Dang, PharmD. “Our system allows us to automatically generate overstock inventory whenever we have certain products over the max, we can decide to keep or return them. We also have the capability to generate lists of drugs about to expire so we can flag them to return and ensure our patients are receiving safe, quality drugs.”

Another useful feature is the ability to generate sales records for seasonal products like flu vaccines based on the prior year’s sales and the trends from the previous three years in order to make pre-order decisions.

“Historical drugs purchase recommendations can also be valuable intel for pharmacists,” Dang said. “For instance, at the beginning of the year, most brand-name vendors increase drug prices anywhere from 5 to 15 percent. With our technology tools, we can track and determine from which drug manufacturers we should stock extra as drug pricing is expected to go up. If price hikes do not come to fruition, we can simply return to get credit back.”

Overall, data analytics can help pharmacists make more informed decisions about their inventory levels and ordering patterns, resulting in improved patient care and financial outcomes. It is an essential tool for any modern pharmacy looking to remain competitive in today’s healthcare landscape.

“Data analytics can ultimately help pharmacies reduce costs, increase revenue, and improve customer satisfaction,” Russell said.

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