Pharmacy automation is fast becoming a cornerstone for the pharmacy industry. Most pharmacies, whether they be independent, central fill, or long-term care suppliers, have likely considered automation or already taken the first steps towards considering incorporating this emergent tech into their business.
In this blog, we’re considering the future of pharmacy automation and examining its projected increase through 2026.
According to the recent report from Research and Markets, in 2021 the pharmacy automation market capped off at $6.3billion USD. Baxter International Inc, Cerner Corp., Omnicell Inc, and our own parent company, Parata Systems, contributed to these massive overall earnings. Our early-adoption clients felt the positive effects of upgrading their facilities, from significant boosts in on-site productivity to increased adherence amongst patients.
These gains are projected to increase at a CAGR of almost 10% over the next four years, culminating in a record high for the pharmacy automation industry of just short of $10Billion USD by 2026. This indicates two things: first, there is a massive untapped market for automation enhancements within the pharmacy industry. Second, the strides we’ve collectively made thus far are indicative of the enormous amount of internal support automation receives from our community on a global scale.
SynMed is proud to stand with Parata Systems at the forefront of this movement. Our solutions are designed to maximize efficiency and drive down your production costs while positioning your pharmacy to better receive the benefits of future innovation.
Growth has been a defining feature for pharmacy automation over the last few years, and we expect to see it continue, broadly, across all types of pharmacies in the years to come. The expansion will affect:
Each category/type of pharmacy is expected to continue to incorporate automation into their day-to-day operations. We can determine which machine is best suited to each environment, based on the current way that pharmacy handles filling and packaging prescriptions, dispensing and storage of medication, and the software/logistics surrounding inventory management.
Automated prescription packaging reduces room for human error. Hundreds of calibrated, internally stored medication containers will keep your inventory safe while dispensing medication with robotic precision. Barcode scanning and on-screen guidance ensure secure production.
We covered this in a previous blog and there are both intuitive and evidence-based reasons demonstrating the irreplaceable value of human beings in the pharmacy workspace. Pharmacy staff should not worry about a world of total automation, as they serve an integral and critical role to the success of any pharmacy business. Your human employees are your most precious asset, and SynMed technology is meant to enhance their talents, not eclipse them. We can help you and your team achieve new records of productivity, freeing them from packaging tasks that represent opportunities for human error. Automation will not only reduce workplace stress, but will also elevate your customers’ experiences by allowing staff more time for one-on-one patient interaction that simply cannot be done by a machine.
Today, we know that’s more important than ever. COVID-19 has taught us valuable lessons on ease and accessibility when it comes to healthcare. Adaptations made by the pharmacy industry over the last few years are expected to continue operating as sources of information and vaccine delivery. Pharmacies opened their doors for vaccinations and booster shots, providing new revenue streams for pharmacies and new opportunities for them to connect with the people in their communities. If hospitals and ICUs continue to face excessive burdens, we can expect pharmacies to play similarly central roles leading up to 2026 and beyond.
During COVID, 70% of hospital pharmacists reported adding new responsibilities to their daily workload, while independent, central fill and long term care pharmacies felt the burn (and in many cases, the burnout) of staff turnover and supply issues. Automation will address the staffing shortages by handling the most tedious and error-prone elements of packaging prescriptions.
In December 2021, NBC identified a shocking number of pharmacies that are already struggling to replace employees during the current mass exodus of staff. 78% of pharmacists reported feeling exhausted by their work, according to a survey by the American Pharmacists Association (reported by NBC). Reports of employee burnout through all healthcare systems regularly make the news. By 2026, an estimated 6.5 million workers will leave the pharmacy industry while only about 2 million will join it, leaving 4 million jobs open for replacement by automation. In the meantime, pharmacies today seek to incentivize their employees with additional pay or benefits. Unfortunately, despite the relief automation brings, we anticipate a continued migration of these overextended employees to other fields. With the right approach, your pharmacy does not need to accept its fate as another statistic. Turning to automation can dramatically reduce the manual workload of your staff while shrinking the cost of overall labor, increasing your team’s accuracy rate and overall satisfaction on the job http://ow.ly/TwvC30snbY3
As the industry adjusts to a new landscape of diversifying options, pharmacies are learning to identify overexposure and limit their losses. In 2021, over $2.5billion worth of medication was thrown away in the US alone — a trend that has reoccurred each year. Here in Canada, an undercover expose from 2017 reported by CBC News discovered a staggering $15 billion had been wasted over the previous five years (imagine what that number is today!) Without widespread adoption of a meaningful, systemic shift toward pharmacy automation, we can surmise that this number will continue to increase as we move towards 2026. Fortunately, we see a future where pharmacy automation machines like SynMed devices will become an integral role in driving down these massive industry-wide costs.
Automation is key to helping your pharmacists keep better track of their inventory to prevent overstock, thereby reducing the expiration of medication on shelves, reducing costs. This will address internal financial stresses, and there’s evidence that automated systems increase adherence amongst patients so there’s less waste on both sides of the equation. That’s good news for everyone.
As automation becomes more critical to the process of meeting pharmacy patients’ needs, we anticipate an increased demand for the services offered by Synergy Medical and Parata Systems. Our machines are designed to address the current problems of the day while better positioning your pharmacy to adapt to what’s coming. We’ll continue to refine our assessment of the landscape as we head for 2026 and the years beyond.