Pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens are being forced to find solutions to ongoing staffing shortages through automation and remote processing.
- CVS is facing a pharmacy technician shortage, reflecting overall staffing shortages in the medical industry that have persisted since COVID.
- The company is attempting to address the shortage by rolling out a system of remote pharmacy processing to reduce the workload for its current 30,000 pharmacists in 9,000 store locations, who are also needed to assist with patient services, health screenings, and vaccination services.
- CVS’ “remote processing” and Walgreens’ “centralized drug-filling centers” are attempts to free up time and stress from these company’s remaining workforce and prevent further mass resignations.
Why it’s News
The stress of COVID hurt the entire medical industry. Staffing shortages and mass resignations have hurt major pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens, which have been forced to offer large stay-on bonuses or reduce store hours. Walgreens previously announced in October that it would be automating some of its pharmacy services with robots and centralized drug-filling centers as a means of mitigating time and stress to its pharmacists.
“CVS has equipped roughly 8,000 of its more than 9,000 U.S. drugstores with technology that allows pharmacists to review and enter prescription information remotely while still meeting patient-privacy requirements,” says The Wall Street Journal.
CVS’ program will not be rolled out nationally, as individual states have different pharmaceutical regulations that must be followed and many will not permit automated or remote processing of prescriptions, especially when specific dosage requirements are a matter of life and death.
“Fewer students are opting to study for a pharmacy qualification, worsening the chronic shortage of practitioners in the industry,” says LinkedIn News.
With pharmacy-school applicants shrinking and the current workforce pool growing more shallow, major pharmaceutical companies are having to face a future where automation and remote processing may be a requirement. CVS has no intention of removing human pharmacists, but it needs to meet demands without burning out its remaining employees.