Artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics are among the most widely-discussed technologies in the world today. They help today’s leading companies — and the people who drive day-to-day operations — step away from menial or repetitive tasks, predict changing business conditions, and deliver more precise and personalized customer experiences.
To compete, companies must adapt to AI … or risk being left behind.
We’ve seen this in all industries and across all sectors. Our banks use AI to identify and prevent fraud. Our email inboxes use AI to filter spam. Industry-leading consumer services like Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify use AI to recommend personalized products and help cultivate an army of satisfied and fiercely loyal customers around the globe.
The incredible impact of these technologies makes no exception for the specialty pharmacy industry. Pharmacies are seeing infinite potential in running their operations more predictably and efficiently, while staying scalable with fluctuating business needs.
We’ve reached a tipping point where AI is indispensable — it’s no longer simply a bonus, or a ‘shiny new thing’ for a specialty pharmacy’s operations. It’s a competitive necessity.
So, let’s consider the AI ‘haves and have nots’ and what happens when specialty pharmacies choose not to use AI in their parcel management strategies.
Lack of Control over Shipping Processes
If you’re a specialty pharmacy leader, you’ve likely felt the pain of weather complications interfering with costly medication shipments. Many a pharmacy has fallen victim, costing up to millions in losses on top of jeopardizing patient health.
But, this will soon be a problem of the past. Specialized and sophisticated AI software is helping specialists manage their shipping processes, working to predict which geographic zones and carrier routes will be affected by weather events before packages are even sent out.
There’s a perfect harmony between AI software and the humans who work with it. That’s because the software takes hundreds of thousands of unique data points, comprehensively analyzes them, and uses pattern recognition and machine learning to make predictions about what will happen next. Then, specialists (the humans) use their expertise to make unique judgment calls and execute strategies based on the AI output.
Without the computational capabilities of machines, manual processes performed by humans alone simply can’t reproduce the same level of efficiency and reliability. No matter how much we try, we’ll never be able to match a computer’s sheer power in crunching numbers and identifying critical patterns quickly.
This is why specialty pharmacies that exclude AI can’t achieve optimal control over their shipping processes, and often suffer as a result.
Inefficiency and Unnecessary Operational Costs
You’ve heard the saying “work smarter, not harder.” It’s almost as if it was coined to describe AI’s benefits in specialty pharmacy.
There’s no way around it: running manual processes is demanding, time-consuming, and often inefficient. On top of that, it’s not scalable without increasing your costs — a human’s workload tops out much quicker than a computer’s, after all.
Think about the extra human resources that would be required if your company shipped an additional 500 packages this week. (Or maybe don’t think about it … we’re not trying to stress you out.)
However, implementing AI-based software can have holistic benefits. In many cases, like the data crunching we listed above, computers have a higher capacity to begin with.
By delegating more menial and repetitive data-related tasks to this specialized technology, pharmacies are freeing their staffs’ plates for functions that require their expertise, and the situational decision-making capabilities that computers lack.
Inability to Compete in an Increasingly AI-Driven Economy
Now that AI has found its way into virtually every aspect of our lives, there’s no room for the human error that comes with manual operational processes. As specialized software becomes more available, businesses are seizing their opportunities to be more efficient and cost-effective, while enhancing the ability to satisfy their customers.
We know what you might be thinking. “But the healthcare industry is notoriously bound by red tape and bureaucracy. It looks the same to me …”
While this is often true, and healthcare is often seen as lagging when compared to other industries, it’s catching up quickly. Especially as leaders are realizing that millions of dollars — and patient lives — are hanging in the balance.
Simply put: specialty pharmacies are catching on to the power of AI, and specialized tools are growing in popularity. Those who fail to adapt to this new status quo will not be able to keep up with their savvy competition.
Marrying AI and Human Intelligence
The key to unlocking all of these benefits is to harmonize ‘brain and brawn.’ In this case, humans act as the brain element, making final calls and catering to unique needs and requirements of each organization and its patients in each scenario.
Computers act as the brawn, combing through millions of real-time data points in the blink of an eye, following the ‘rules’ we set to help us turn this data into actionable insights.
They do the heavy lifting while we organize and orchestrate. And, we’re making beautiful music together.
To learn more about how AI is turning the specialty pharmacy industry on its head and becoming an essential component of daily operations, click here to download our whitepaper, “Man vs. Machine: How AI Makes Specialty Pharmacy Parcel Management More Predictable, Efficient, and Scalable.”