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Loss of healthcare workers all over the world.

There is a worldwide labour crisis right now, and it is expected to continue for some time to come. Indeed it may be the new ‘post COVID’ reality, based on demographic and social changes seen across the globe, which has been coined ‘The Great Resignation’ as employees reflected on their current roles during extended lockdowns. This labour crisis has especially affected the healthcare market, where workers have been forced by the pandemic to bear much heavier workloads and abnormal work hours, causing many of them to experience burnout and some to seek early retirement. In the US market for example, healthcare lost 524,000 workers during the last one and a half years.  The situation in European countries is similar. In France for example, recruitment difficulties rose in health occupations between 2019 and 2021.

It is increasingly clear that the healthcare staff left behind have less and less time to provide medication to patients.

Staff are hard to find and also hard to keep.

The Pharmacy market is no exception to this. In the UK, there are repeated claims of a pharmacy workforce crisis, and in a survey of independent community pharmacists by the US National Community Pharmacist Association (NCPA), 80 percent of the pharmacists say they are having a difficult time filling open positions.

In the survey, pharmacists spoke about the different strategies they deploy to find or keep staff. More than 72% of survey respondents told the NCPA that they are raising wages to attract workers, 56% are offering more flexible work hours, and more than 20% are increasing benefits. UK reports similar experience, 97% are working with unsafe staff levels at least some of the time according to a PDA survey.

For companies assembling pouches or Monitored Dosage Systems (MDS), it involves a lot of employees to sustain the workflow. As this additional service is very rarely reimbursed, they must find a way to pouch package as efficiently as possible for them to remain profitable and competitive. This means: streamlining the workflow.

News ways of working needed

Pharmacies offering individual pouches as well as blister centres need a new way of working. One that is sustainable, scalable and profitable for the future. A way that minimises FTE use, maximises production performance, and minimises errors, helping to significantly reduce costs and give you back that competitive edge.

Automating former manual steps can be a good solution. A high degree of automation and a minimized error rate allow for a lower headcount. The augmented production speed also contributes to cost reduction and a higher efficiency. “We see the processes have completely changed. Because of this, we can do the same job even with less FTE that has resulted in us growing without expanding in staff”, explains Joryt Taekema, Manager Operations at SPITS Oosterwalde.

A high level of automation also helps to protect the production process against unexpected mass staff absences, as most recently witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/empsit_10082021.htm

https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/policy-responses/an-assessment-of-the-impact-of-covid-19-on-job-and-skills-demand-using-online-job-vacancy-data-20fff09e/

https://ec.europa.eu/eures/public/living-and-working/labour-market-information/labour-market-information-france_en

https://ncpa.org/newsroom/news-releases/2021/06/02/tight-labor-market-squeezing-local-pharmacies-survey-shows

https://www.the-pda.org/wp-content/uploads/Safer-pharmacies-survey-2021-2.pdf

https://rowa.de/en/use-cases/spits-noord-nederland/

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