Pharmacy Information Systems (PIS) have evolved over the years to become a core component of any successful pharmacy operation. Whether it’s a hospital setting, a clinic or even a specialty pharmacy business, these complex and sophisticated computer software systems continue to evolve and their functionality is ever expanding. Sometimes they are also referred to as Medication Management Systems, selecting the best PIS for a particular pharmacy has become an extremely complicated process. Keeping in mind that not all pharmacies have the exact same procedures, requirements and needs, choosing the best pharmacy information software system for your particular business may pose several dilemmas and can often be an extremely difficult task. Yet making the correct software system selection is a is critical decision!
What Is a Pharmacy Information System (PIS)?
Pharmacy information systems (PIS) are basically computer software systems that are programmed with the ability to perform the various tasks required to operate a pharmacy. They make the business operate more efficiently, plus allow for digital record storage and fast retrieval of information. Typical uses of a PIS include:
– Prescription management (Rx data entry and dispensing info such as labels and warnings)
– Patient personal profiles and medication history
– Consultation documentation
– Physician monitoring
– Inventory management
– Purchasing management
– Billing and insurance management
– Pricing structure variables
– Clinical screening (allergies, drug interactions, warnings and patient education)
– Drug interaction monitoring
– Staffing and workload management
– Compounding and manufacturing documentation and management
What PIS Best Meets Your Pharmacy’s Specific Needs?
Many pharmacy managers and owners find this to be the hardest business decision that they will ever have to make or be involved in. Selection of the right pharmacy information system takes a lot of time and requires extensive education. As with any computer program or system, choosing the wrong PIS will lead to both wasted money and resources, and eventually to severe pain if the medication management system needs to be totally replaced at some point in the future.
Although all of the major pharmacy information systems contain the core functionality and components described above, some systems are obviously more robust than others. With literally hundreds of systems to choose from, evaluating the different software programs can be an exhausting and challenging task. A list of the “Top Ten” most popular systems usually includes some of the following:
HMS Pharmacy (Healthcare Management Systems Inc.)
PharmNet (Cerner’s pharmacy system)
Meditech’s Pharmacy Solution
Sunrise Pharmacy (Allscripts)
Horizon Meds Manager
Major Considerations in Selecting a PIS
Although they are not listed in any particular order of preference, each PIS listed above has pros and cons associated with it. Some of the key factors that need to be considered as a part of your selection process should include:
1. Price –
Obviously this is a major expenditure for any pharmacy operation or business. Historically, some large hospitals and healthcare systems developed in-house proprietary solutions, but that is no longer typically seen. The cost of development, maintenance and system enhancements make using a third party system the obvious and most economic solution for almost any pharmacy.
2. Integrated Systems versus “Stand Alone” Systems –
There is a critical choice that needs to be made: use a “stand alone” system or product or use an integrated system? Using a “stand alone” system basically makes your business dependent on the vendor for updates and enhancements in the future. Integrated systems mean that you can connect with various other technology and programs that you may utilize, such as CPOE, EMR, RFID and bar-code scanning programs.
3. Your Current Need versus Your Future Needs –
Although your selection may meet you current needs, what about your future needs? Obviously technology changes very rapidly and the future is sometimes very unpredictable. The point is that not all of a system’s capabilities are used by every pharmacy, so it may be critical to know the entire PIS functionality in order to grow your operation at some future point. This can be especially critical if you are planning a future expansion into the specialty pharmacy area, as some systems are specifically geared to specialty pharmacy operations. Conversely, when acquiring and using a vendor’s PIS, you don’t want to pay for features and functionality that are not required to run your business, and that you most likely will never utilize and need.
Who Can Help You Select The Correct PIS?
Selection of the right PIS is a critical, yet time consuming business decision. The process of evaluating each system independently to meet both your immediate and future needs can be both exhausting and overwhelming. Perhaps consider hiring an expert that is both objective and experienced with the various PIS programs.
Healthcare Consultants has helped more pharmacies choose a PIS and successfully run their business than any other pharmacy consulting firm in the nation. We have in-house experts that have the experience to help you and know the pharmacy business “inside and out”.
From major hospitals and healthcare systems to individual community retail and specialty pharmacies, HCC has been the nationally renowned pharmacy consulting firm of choice for over 29 years now. HCC can assist with expert advice in any area of your pharmacy business or practice. With a full-time staff of in-house Pharmacy Consultant specialists, we can answer any questions that you may have in all pharmacy settings. Contact us online or call us today at 800-642-1652 for a free consultation.