A Million Dollar ATM for Independent Pharmacy

By Anyssa Garza PharmD, BCMAS – Digital Pharmacist Staff

As consumers demand more control of their health and 24/7 self-service refill options, interactive voice response (IVR) is having something of a renaissance in pharmacy. Currently, refills processed through our IVR technology account for 70 percent of the $400 million in annualized script volume we process for independent pharmacies. The remaining refills we process come through our mobile apps and websites.    

We looked at 10 pharmacies that implemented our IVR system in 2018. These pharmacies now average 3,000 IVR refills per month. So far this year, these pharmacies have processed an average of $1.3 million in script value through their new IVR systems and have seen an average of $15,000 in saved labor costs.

Although IVR solutions have been available in pharmacy for over 20 years, many pharmacists resisted implementing IVR earlier because they saw it as an impersonal and technical tool. As it turns out, in today’s “let-me-do-it-myself” world, patients love the self-service method IVR offers — not just for refills, but also for pickup reminders.

The hot economy and tightening margins in pharmacy are also contributing to IVR’s renaissance. Low unemployment means there are fewer people available to hire for administrative tasks. Rather than having staff members listen to voicemails or pick up the phone to take refill requests, pharmacies are now assigning staff to higher-value clinical activities like Medication Therapy Management, medication synchronization, and patient education and letting IVR pick up the slack.

CHART: A Million Dollar ATM for Independent Pharmacy (click to enlargen)Million Dollar ATM for Independent Pharmacy

We are continuing to invest in our IVR product, as well as our outbound reminder options. Our outbound alerts, which include Refill Reminders, RxReady and Pickup Reminders, are designed to remind patients to refill and pick up their medications and help pharmacies reduce return-to-stock rates.

To learn more about IVR implementation and how it can improve your pharmacy, give us a call at 877-959-7550 or email [email protected].