Amish Patel, independent prescriber and Hodgson Pharmacy owner

Using innovation and technology is the best way for pharmacies to boost income and ensure efficiency in services, said tech-savvy pharmacist independent prescriber and contractor Amish Patel.

Patel has invested heavily in technological refurbishment at his pharmacy and was the first community pharmacy owner to have installed a dispensing robot in the UK eight years ago.

Highlighting the downward trend in pharmacies’ income, he said: “We know for the last five years plus, pharmacy income, pharmacy services — they have just been reducing…

“We are still very heavily dependent on dispensing, and dispensing fees, and profit margins with the supply chain they have been ever reducing.

“This (using technology) has been a new way of generating new income. But again, just to highlight it is just enjoyment of pushing the boundaries what I can do personally.”

He added that using technology had made life easier not just for him but also for his staff, enabling them to introduce and manage a wide range of new services at Hodgson Pharmacy in Kent.

Citing a simple example of putting up screens to display offered services, he said, “It’s been a great way of promoting things that we are doing.”

He added: “We can make the best use of technology to drive everything we are doing in the pharmacy.

“We also use a lot of technology for the booking system as well. It is simple and people can have access 24 hours and seven days a week to book appointments with the pharmacy. There is no need to call the pharmacy during the office hours. All this drives in efficiency, making my life easier.”

Talking about installing robots to support dispensing at his pharmacy, Patel said he had to choose between increasing the staff or look at ways of driving accuracy and efficiency-savings in the dispensing process. Hence, the first robot was installed way back in 2013.

He said: “Since the time we have the robot, we have zero down time, zero problems. It never goes sick, and is always on time in the morning. It is one of the best things I have invested in.”

Deploying technology has also enabled the firm to focus on a wide range of services that it offers today such as phlebotomy, private blood testing, ear wax removal by micro-suction, doing aesthetics and beautification, Patel said.

He added: “We are also offering online personal coaching services and weight loss services, as well as a whole variety of services where we are just expanding what we already know as pharmacists, and also applying new skill sets.”

Patel was interviewed by Michael Holden, the current chair of Pharmacy Business Conference, in Kent. The interview ran in the final session of the 6th annual Pharmacy Business Conference on Thursday, September 23.

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