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May 23, 2022 Louise Laban

Hub & Spoke Consultation Rethink: Your Business, Your Hands

When it comes to the new world of hub and spoke, the future of your business is in your hands says Centred Solutions Sales and Marketing Director, Louise Laban.

“The Department of Health impact assessment into hub and spoke dispensing strongly suggests many independent and small groups of pharmacies will struggle to set up their own hubs claiming they don’t have the funding or workload to make it viable.

For these pharmacies it appears to suggest that the options are:

  1. do nothing and continue operating as you are. However, we all know with the change in funding models, pharmacies need to free up time from logistical tasks to be able to offer clinical and revenue generating services.
  2. outsource to an already established hub run by the bigger pharmacy groups or private companies set up to purely offer prescription dispensing services, potentially for a fee. The risk here is stock savings from bulk buying may not be passed onto you. Having limited options could place a stranglehold on your pharmacy and a loss of control over key areas of your business.

But what if there was another way? A way that kept control of your business in your own hands and gave you the opportunity to grow at the same time. There are options for both independents and smaller groups that simply haven’t been picked up or highlighted in the impact assessment or in most of the media coverage around hub and spoke dispensing.

A model for smaller groups

At Centred Solutions we strongly believe that smaller groups with five pharmacies or more could set up their own hub and keep control of their own business. We believe this because we are already working with a number of pharmacists who are doing just that. A group of innovative early adopters who are starting to demonstrate to peers that there is another way. We are currently working with a range of customers who have as few as five pharmacies going up to 200 plus.

The key to this technology is that it is scalable. You can start small with a relatively low investment and realise the opportunity to grow your business before taking the next step on your automation journey.

So how does it work?

This FLOWRx solution is a fully integrated pharmacy workflow, fulfilment and automation platform that optimises the process of repeat prescription dispensing for pharmacies wanting to create or automate a dispensing hub. The solution is comprised of three parts:

 

FLOWRx Connect is our supply chain and PMR (Patient Medication Record) integration software solution that manages the transmission of products required from the hub/warehouse to create FLOW Totes (patient specific totes) for requested patient orders.

 

FLOWRx Hub is our centralised hub solution which enables you to pick, label, sort and pack prescription orders into patient bags and totes to dispatch back to your pharmacy spokes. FLOWRx Hub solutions can begin with a manual process and can be built on as you grow or partner with other groups. At approximately 20 stores automated labelling can certainly be considered and cost justified.

 

FLOWRx InStore is our pharmacy workflow software platform installed at the pharmacy spoke to send information to FLOWRx Hub and process completed totes when they are received back from the pharmacy hub.  FLOWRx InStore also manages exceptions and updates the PMR with final dispensing information.

 

A number of our customers started their hub and spoke automation journey by automating a part of their repeat prescription dispensing process which very quickly freed up enough time in spoke pharmacies for staff to start offering more revenue generating services. As the business grew the pharmacies were then in a position to increase investment in the FLOWRx Hub, scaling up the dispensing process to handle more volume and freeing up even more time in the pharmacy spoke for patient facing services.

A model for independents

Assuming the consultation leads to the proposed changes in legislation, a similar hub model could potentially work for standalone independents who could come together and collaborate with a couple of other like-minded pharmacies in their area. Alternatively, independents could treat their existing wholesaler as their hub and use a variation of spoke software in store. This software solution requests FLOW Totes (patient specific totes) for patient orders direct from the pharmacy wholesalers and then uses FLOWRx to seamlessly guide staff through the process to complete and bag patient prescriptions directly from the totes when they are received back at the pharmacy.  

Explore your options

At Centred Solutions we believe there are affordable and accessible options to keep business in-house for many of the independent and smaller groups of pharmacies. However, they are wrongly being led to believe that they are too small to create their own hubs and that their only option is to do nothing or outsource to an external company.

We don’t think you necessarily need to outsource – we believe the future of your business is in your hands. There are options out there that are better for you, better for your business, better for your patients and better for the wider market. Even the consultation impact assessment makes it clear that the higher the degree of competition between hub pharmacies, the greater the share of benefits that fall on spoke pharmacies and the greater access and choice for patients.”

Published by Louise Laban May 23, 2022
Louise Laban