COVID-19 has had a major impact all facets of life, but those in the healthcare industry have been particularly impacted. For pharmacies who have largely remained open throughout lockdowns and who are facing an increased demand for medication, spending time packaging products is a low priority.
For these pharmacies, packaging automation can ease the load by handling the tedious process of packaging prescriptions.
What is Packaging Automation?
Packaging automation is the process of packaging a product without or primarily without human labor. Automation can be as simple as one machine in the line – for example, a stretch wrapping system that wraps pallet loads at the end of the line – or it can be as complex as automating the entire line from bagging, packaging, void-filling and wrapping.
For many pharmacies, it makes sense to automate some of the packaging process – an individual pharmacy may not need to palletize loads for example, but they may need to regularly box and ship packages to patients.
Why Packaging Automation is Crucial for Pharmacies
A recent article from Packaging Digest took an in-depth look at pharmacies’ packaging needs, particularly during COVID-19. Below are some of the key automation advantages they found:
1. Maintain social distance
Maintaining social distance is crucial during COVID-19, but can be extremely difficult during the packing process if it’s being done manually. A packaging automation system can sort, bag or wrap items instead of requiring multiple employees in the same area at a time. It can also be used to compile a single patient’s medications into one place for efficiency.
2. Increase efficiency and cost savings
When considering automation, one barrier that many organizations face is the initial upfront cost. However, over time automation saves significantly much more cost in labor and time. Additionally, Packaging Digest explains how automation can be used in multi-dose packaging, leading to an increased profit:
Multi-dose adherence pouch packaging can attract more than 10 new customers each month (each taking, on average, five to seven medications per month), and this can generate in excess of $100,000 in new annual gross profit. With more customers using pre-packaged multi-dose medication, comes improved adherence, increased pharmacy Star ratings, and decreased Direct and Indirect Remuneration (“DIR”) Fee pullbacks, which can be up to $72,000 of fees per year.
3. Improve patient adherence through medication synchronization
Patient adherence was already a pressing issue for pharmacies, but has grown even more prominent during COVID-19. Many patients are avoiding care, have reduced financial resources or are facing medication shortages.
Medication synchronization is the process of refilling a patient’s entire prescription regimen on the exact same day each month. This increases patient adherence by eliminating the need for multiple pickups. For pharmacies, medication synchronization can be a time-consuming endeavor. With packaging automation, it’s much easier to achieve.
4. Enable contactless packaging and verification
Pharmacists are regularly in contact with hundreds of prescriptions every day. By utilizing automation, pharmacies can drastically reduce a pharmacist’s need to manually dispense every prescription. Research from The Journal of the American Pharmacist Association showed that pharmacists can save more than 46.5 minutes per 100 prescriptions filled compared to the traditional count and pour method.
Packaging automation is a solution that can help pharmacies provide better value to their patients, maintain social distance and reduce time spent on repetitive tasks.
PackEdge prides itself on listening to its customers. Based on these conversations, the best packaging system and material solutions will be uncovered. These solutions will not only provide a product or a packaging system; but most importantly will deliver a competitive edge for its customers in the marketplace.
PackEdge Corporation is a wholesale distributor of packaging systems and consumable products. We offer packaging equipment solutions and consumable products including stretch wrap, void fill, shrink film and more.