Jan 24 | 4 min read

Pharmacy Technology Trends for 2022: Addressing Labor Shortages and Covid-19

Pharmacy technology is changing rapidly, with social distancing necessitating new solutions for pharmacy check-in and pickup.

Aila Staff

Retail pharmacies have long been busy neighborhood hubs where customers could quickly stop for essentials and pick up medications. Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit. From then on, retail pharmacies took on even more roles, first as testing sites and—increasingly—as the nearest and most accessible vaccination provider for millions of Americans. The pandemic also emphasized the need for pharmacy technology that is geared toward higher foot traffic and socially distant and touch-free interactions. Now, as we enter 2022, retail pharmacies face another problem: labor shortages. 

These two challenges make the use of time-saving technology more urgent than ever. By automating customer experiences and associate workflows, retail pharmacists can keep customers safer while reducing the burden on an already stretched-thin staff.

Pharmacy technology innovations

There are several touchpoints inside the pharmacy that can be converted to self-service experiences. Pharmacy kiosks can enable touchless solutions for price checking, self-checkout, and check-in for pharmacy pickup or vaccinations. 

healthcare check-in with ID scanning on Aila's Interactive Kiosk

Pharmacy kiosks for check-in 

Leading healthcare organizations like LabCorp have already adopted self-service check-in as a way to reduce foot traffic and lessen the burden on staff who are often required to multitask during busy hours. With 90 percent of pharmacies reporting labor shortages, self-service kiosks have the potential to offset the long lines of customers waiting for a technician to help them. 

Pharmacy technology that enables self-check-in carries similar benefits while also allowing staff and customers to maintain a safe distance from one another and complete tasks without the need for physical contact. 

This can be enabled through pharmacy kiosks that allow for the scanning of IDs, insurance cards, and barcodes without having to tap on any screens. Pharmacy kiosks equipped with payment terminals can also be leveraged for self-checkout of pharmacy and retail items. 

Cashless self-checkout kiosks for line-busting

Self-checkout kiosks have traditionally been bulky, stationary machines suitable only for big box retailers and grocery stores. However, today’s small footprint solutions are ideal for smaller spaces and stores with changing layouts. 

These modular self-checkout kiosks are perfect for eliminating bottlenecks at checkout that can cause dangerously crowded lines where it’s all but impossible to meet social distancing guidelines. 

For customers paying with their card or smartphone, this process can be fast and completely touch-free, thanks to new tap-to-pay and QR code payment methods. 

kiosk from Aila and Proxyclick for retail pharmacy self-service

In-aisle pharmacy technology

We’ve seen how self-service pharmacy kiosks can be used at check-in, at the pharmacy counter, and at checkout. However, there is another mostly untapped area in the store where pharmacy technology can play a larger role: in the aisle. 

Pharmacy kiosks can be used in-aisle to educate customers on product information like pricing, ingredients, reviews, recommendations, and more. Remember those old—often malfunctioning—price scanners you’ve seen in the aisle of big-box retailers? Those price scanners can be replaced with modern, versatile self-service pharmacy kiosks that enable a range of high-value experiences in the aisle. 

An added benefit of deploying in-aisle pharmacy kiosks is that it further reduces the burden on front-end staff who would normally have to field customer questions and run price checks themselves—all while having to check out other customers. 

Carside, drive-through, and other outdoor experiences

A final way to allow for safer in-person interactions is to bring them outside of the pharmacy. We’ve already seen this work with drive-through Covid-19 testing in pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid. But lines at the drive-through can also quickly become unmanageable. 

To help reduce bottlenecks at the drive-through, retail pharmacies can deploy mobile solutions outside, where customers can park in a designated area to receive their prescriptions, online orders, or tests. 

Pharmacy technology doesn’t have to–and shouldn’t be—fixed in one place. Employees equipped with mobile devices ready to scan IDs, QR codes, and test samples can quickly process transactions outside of the store, in the drive-through line or at designated parking spots. 

aila's interactive kiosk and softscan

 Aila’s Interactive Kiosk for self-service pharmacy solutions

The Interactive Kiosk is a versatile, pharmacy-ready solution for check-in, pickup, and in-aisle experiences. Built exclusively for iPadOS, it offers fast, intuitive experiences, support for printers and payment terminals, and a range of mounting options for any environment. 

See how the Interactive Kiosk helped LabCorp provide a 94% customer satisfaction rating for self-check-in:

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