Futurism is notoriously risky business, at least if our conspicuous lack of robot butlers, flying cars, atomic-powered planes, and personal jet packs is any indication. But predicting what’s around the corner isn’t impossible if it’s done right; the seeds of the future are often right here in the present, hidden in plain sight. If you know where to look, you’ll be in a good position to take advantage of trends that are already shaping the pharmacy of the future — and Shelving Design Systems will be here to help. Here are some of the trends we’re watching with interest.
We won’t see smock-clad robot pharmacists and sales associates prowling the pharmacy of the future (yet), but that doesn’t mean technology isn’t already making its presence felt. Mechanical dispensing is freeing up human labor, allowing for better customer interactions that lead to better retention. Pharmaceutical barcoding, as simple as it is, will lead to better inventory management, fewer errors, and better patient outcomes. Improved analytics can cut back on waste and abuse, and give patients and healthcare providers alike a better understanding of wellness. Since these processes can be computerized and automated, they lead to a smoother and more compact workflow. This, in turn, gives the future pharmacy more flexibility in layout, shelving design, and services offered.
The Pharmacy Goes Back to the Future
In the not-so-distant past, pharmacies weren’t just a place you’d stop to have a prescription filled and stock up on some household essentials. Compounding, medical advice, and even medical care would take place onsite. Those days are returning, with chain and independent pharmacies alike bringing more medical services in-house. That’s a boon to underserved communities, and may yet bring down healthcare costs. However, it’s also a challenge insofar as most pharmacies only have the option of growing their services within their existing footprint. That gives pharmacy shelving and retail shelving an outsized role, since pharmacies must maximize every available square foot of space.
The Intersection of the Virtual with the Physical
In the early days of the web, it was easy to draw a bright line between the physical and virtual worlds. Now, that distinction has blurred to a point where it’s all but gone. Most of us have near-constant web access in our pockets. Apps give us access to heart rates, glucose levels, and prescription reminders. NFC and smart displays can display medical information, coupons, and much more. Apps and wearables bring the customer experience out of the pharmacy and into the world — even into patients’ own homes — and as time passes, we’ll find still more ways to meld the physical and virtual worlds.
Maintaining the Human Element
In the long run, the pharmacy of the future will be a difference of degrees rather than kind. As online pharmacies and national chains threaten to take a bite out of independent pharmacies’ sales and community footprint, proper design moves to the fore; it’s a way to help your staff spend more quality time with clientele and maintain a higher standard of service through human connections, thereby letting you differentiate your business from the competition. For customers of Shelving Design Systems, that future is now. Contact us for a pharmacy shelving solution consultation that will help you put your best face — and your best people — forward.