Polishing Your Point of Sale
The recipe for POS success mixes integrated software infrastructure with a smart merchandising strategy
- By Joseph Duffy
- Apr 01, 2017
When it comes to your DME pharmacy point of sale (POS)—the area in your store where goods or services are paid
for—there are two distinct, very important components
integral to POS success: the technological infrastructure
and the merchandising.
Addressing the software infrastructure side of this equation, Jason
Williams, national sales manager for Retail Pharmacy and HME, Western
Region, for QS/1, which produces HME software integrated with a full
retail or LTC pharmacy program, says the goal for the DME pharmacist
is to have a truly integrated system among your pharmacy, HME/DME
department and your POS.
“A POS that interfaces to your management system will still require
the pharmacy to perform a good bit of manual work,” he says. “An
integrated system provides a single patient record, improved inventory
control and enhanced reporting. With shared data capabilities, you
can utilize doctor and patient demographics among systems.” In addition,
he says Integration between systems reduces data entry and lets
information move and update between the systems, providing more
efficient inventory management and accounts receivable.
However, Williams says the norm for DME pharmacies is most use only
a pharmacy management system and an integrated point of sale. They
either do not have a HME/DME software management solution or if they
do it is not integrated with the pharmacy and POS. He says that for QS/1,
about 44 percent of its pharmacy customers do some level of HME, and
only 31 percent of their pharmacy clients use integrated POS.
“If you apply those percentages to the entire independent pharmacy
market, about 8,800 pharmacies are doing some HME/DME and fewer
than 6,200 pharmacies have POS,” he says.
Phil Deschaine, marketing director for Universal Software Solutions,
which offers a pharmacy solution that integrates into DME software,
says, “DME Pharmacies have struggled and will continue to struggle
from a tech standpoint when they try to force a pharmacy process into
a DME software setting, or keep pharmacy and DME separate using
two disjointed softwares. Processing a DME order is traditionally just
as labor intensive as filling a pharmacy order, but without the benefit
of instant verification and approval that the pharmacy relies on. DME
pharmacies need flexibility. To compete as a retail pharmacy the
process must be fast and polished to retain customers who are used to
large national chains.”
TECHNOLOGY CONSIDERATIONS IN POS INTEGRATION
Williams points out three major features that DME pharmacy POS software
1. Since HME/DME Medicare Part B and most other insurance carries
require that the DOS (date of service) be the day the patient picks up
the item, your POS software should do two things. First, if the prescription
is filled on Friday, March 3, but not picked up until Tuesday, March 7, the
item must not be billed from either the pharmacy or HME/DME management
systems until the patient picks up the item. Second, when the item
is picked up by the patient, the POS should send the pick-up date back
to the system and automatically update the DOS from March 3 to March
7. The item should then be released for billing to the insurance carrier.
2. A truly integrated system should support the acceptance of FSA/HSA credit cards. These are credit cards tied to a flex spending account or health savings accounts, where money is funded pretax from
paychecks to pay for healthcare. While most pharmacy POS systems
can handle these, many of the standalone HME POS programs cannot.
3. A single integrated accounts receivable statement for pharmacy
and HME/DME patient portions of insurance-covered items, items not
covered by insurance or for which the pharmacy chooses to not accept
assignment and items charged at POS should be achievable. Rather
than the patient getting a pharmacy/POS statement and a second
DME/HME statement, a truly integrated system should have the ability to
send a single patient statement.
Deschaine says that DME pharmacy POS software should allow for
integration with a national drug database like Medispan. With access to
a national catalog, loading new drugs into the system will be consistent
“And for the customer experience, software should offer the flexibility
to quickly fill a retail pharmacy order, while at the same time allowing for compound drugs and equipment rental that enables a traditional DME
to deliver cutting-edge home therapies, ultimately providing the ability
to exceed the expectations of any pharmacy customer,” he says.
POS software should help reduce the amount of time a customer
spends a the register signing required paperwork, says Williams.
“For example, if patients are getting a regular prescription, a Medicare
Part B HME/DME item and three over-the-counter items and paying
by credit card, they should only have to sign once.” he says. “Not four
times: once to show they picked up the prescription, a second time for
counseling, a third time for the HME/DME items and a fourth time for the
credit card. An integrated pharmacy, HME/DME and POS should require
only a single signature that is added electronically to the prescription
record, the HME/DME transaction and to the credit card.”
Hardware components that make up the POS technology infrastructure
include some type of cash register that works with your POS software,
says Williams. This should include a computer, monitor (touchscreen
if your POS software will support it) barcode reader, keyboard,
receipt printer that can also fill out the check, and a credit card/signature
pad that has both a credit card swipe and a chip reader. Optionally
you might want to provide a ‘shopper display’ so customers can see
the price of each items as it is scanned.
TYING IN THE SOFTWARE TO THE DME INFRASTRUCTURE
Williams says that many pharmacies are running three inventories:
1. The drugs and other items stored ‘behind the counter.’
2. The DME items on display, or in a back room, or warehouse space.
3. The OTC items sold in the retail area of the pharmacy. If your POS is not integrated with your HME/DME system, it is impossible to do real
inventory control with automated purchasing for your HME/DME items.
“There is a reason that almost all retail businesses use POS and
barcode scanning: It is faster and more accurate during a POS transaction,”
he says. “When you invest in POS hardware designed for the
software you are using, it can complete the front of the check with your
business name and the dollar amounts and print the endorsement and
deposit information on the back of the check. Sales at the POS automatically
reduce inventory and capture the cost of goods for reporting
purposes, which should allow for better management of the DME pharmacy
by reducing the time it takes to do purchases, replenish inventory
and print management reports.”
Williams says that If you use an electronic signature pad with the POS
and the POS vendor’s approved credit card vendors, the register clerk
can save time and have information automatically updated.
“A good point of sale should analyze the drugs and OTC items
purchased and ‘suggest’ related items that could benefit the patient,”
he says. “As an example, some drugs reduce calcium absorption so
a good POS would recommend high-dose calcium supplements. Or if
the customer purchases Band-Aids, the system should prompt the clerk
to ask the patient if they have antibiotic ointment for the cut or wound.
If a patient is getting a hospital bed the system should recommend a
trapeze bar, bed wedge and an over-the-bed table.”
Finally, your POS system should support store-created coupons, such
as buy one get a second at half price or free, says Williams. Also, a
good POS should handle sale start and end dates on items with the sale pricing for tighter control over correct pricing. It should also be able to
handle vendor coupons.
POS MERCHANDISING STRATEGIES
The second key element to successful POS is merchandising, such
as the impulse buys and displays that try to appeal to customers
surrounding your POS. When it comes to the merchandising side of DME
pharmacies, the weakness are very similar to that of traditional DMEs.
“It is oftentimes forgotten that the customer buying experience does
not end after they pick the product they came in for; it lasts until they
walk out the door, including the time they spend around the point of
sale,” says Rob Baumhover, director of the VGM Retail division of VGM
Group Inc. “Because of this, it is important to capitalize on that time.”
Baumhover says the store goals of POS merchandising is to continue
the customer buying experience. The merchandising should flow with
that of the rest of the store, encourage buying and compliment the
customer experience. Customer goals and expectations are straightforward – a simple, quick and easy transaction process to get them out the
door and on with their lives.
“Impulse buying is a very under-utilized retail strategy in the DME
industry,” says Baumhover. “How often have you been waiting in line at
a traditional retail store — be it a grocery store, a clothing store, make
up store, anything — and at the last-minute grabbed an extra item to
add to your purchase? Probably more often than we would like to admit.
The same strategy can be implemented in this industry.”
While not large ticket items, products like lotions, lip balms, handheld
massagers, etc., are great last-minute add-ons to many purchases. Tips on
what kinds of products or displays work for encouraging impulse buying:
- Interactivity—Customers will want to touch it, smell it, taste it, etc.
Allowing them to do that will increase the chance of purchase.
- Attract attention—Bright colors, lights, sound, movement, or humor
are unique features of impulse items that will draw the customer’s eye.
- Convenience/functionality—Reading glasses are a great example
of a convenience product; customers can use them to write their checks
and then purchase them on the spot.
- Signage—Colorful and eye-catching signage is also key to encouraging
- Easy to Grasp (physically and mentally)—Impulse products should
sell themselves and clients should easily be able to add them to their
basket. If they have to ask what the item is, it’s not a good impulse item.
- Excitement or novelty—Original, unique or hard-to-find items are
also great impulse items.
This article originally appeared in the DME Pharmacy April 2017 issue of HME Business.