July 8, 2024

Pharmacy Management Software Development — How To Guide

Alena Arsionava

Technology Evangelist

Healthcare

Pharmacy Management Software Development — How To Guide

Alena Arsionava

Technology Evangelist

Healthcare

Pharmacy Management Software Development — How To Guide

The success of a pharmacy business relies heavily on effective software. A pharmacy management system is an intelligent tool that lets you handle drug supply and inventory management and improve customer experience. Developing such a system is a smart move if you run a pharmacy or decide to launch one.

In this latest article, we'll guide you through the intricacies of pharmacy management software (PMS) development. We'll explore its key features and the available technology stack and outline the steps in crafting a robust PMS solution. Whether a technology enthusiast or a pharmacy professional, you'll gain valuable insights into pharmacy software security and regulatory requirements. So, let's delve into it!

Key Takeaways

  • Pharmacy management system features include inventory management, prescription processing, sales tracking, patient profile management, automated refill reminders, reporting and analytics, insurance claim processing, point-of-sale (POS) integration, electronic health record (EHR) integration, compliance tracking, and secure data management.
  • To create a pharmacy management software, start with gathering functional and nonfunctional requirements and planning your technology stack. Then, design a user-friendly interface and proceed to implementing core functionalities. Perform thorough testing at each step, and provide ongoing maintenance and support after its deployment.
  • Depending on the target region, pharmacy software development regulations include Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),  Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Standards, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or  Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
  • NEKLO provides custom healthcare software development services to meet the unique needs of your pharmacy business. Discuss your pharmacy management system to streamline operations and improve efficiency.

What is Pharmacy Management Software?

Pharmacy management software interface

Pharmacy Management Software (PMS) is a specialized system that helps pharmacy specialists handle their medicine-related operations online. Depending on your business's landscape, such systems can be anything from a basic online program that enables you to manage drug supply to a fully functional platform that streamlines the operations of a pharmacy network.

The market size of pharmacy software is estimated at $87.53 billion in 2024 and is expected to reach $179.67 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 15.47% during the forecast period (2024-2029). 

The growing demand for pharmacy management systems underscores their importance as an essential tool. One key benefit is the simplification of pharmacists' routines, which can significantly reduce their workload and enhance service quality. Let's explore other compelling reasons for developing software for pharmacy management.

Why to Develop a Pharmacy Management Software?

Pharmacy management software performs a variety of functions starting from filling and verification of prescriptions to conducting inventory audit and dispensation of drugs. The benefits of developing such a system are palpable for patients and pharmacies alike. 

PMS benefits

  • Optimize expenses when running a pharmacy business.
  • Ensure timely restocking by detecting expiring or low-stock items.
  • Keep all important data related to drug compositions at hand and thus reduce the risk of errors.
  • Automate labeling and simplified scanning when integrated with barcode scanners.
  • Auto-refill prescriptions quickly and remotely, saving patients time.
  • Provide insights into buyer behavior.
  • Simplify the ordering and prescription fulfillment process.
  • Integrate with existing medical networks for centralized performance monitoring.

At NEKLO, we specialize in developing custom pharmacy management software that meets the challenges many pharmaceutical businesses face. We can help you streamline your pharmacy operations and enhance efficiency with your business focus in mind:

  • B2C pharmacy chains
  • Large B2B pharmaceutical companies
  • Medical drugstores of all types
  • Pharma wholesalers
  • Pharmaceutical departments/divisions of hospitals and clinics

These are just a few of the many potential benefits that a pharmacy management solution can offer. In practice, it provides many more opportunities for improvement depending on the size and specifics of your pharmacy business.

If you're looking to develop a feature-rich pharmacy management system but don't know where to begin, contact NEKLO for a free consultation.

Key Features of a Pharmacy Management System 

Before developing your pharmacy management system, you need to understand how this system will blend with your current operations and which challenges it will help you overcome. Below, we’ve made a list of the most common features found in a PMS. Your list, however, may be different. With custom pharmacy software development, you can define functionality to tailor the system to your needs.

Key Features
Prescription Management Prescription Entry, Refill Management, E-prescribing, Drug Interaction Alerts, Prescription Validation
Inventory Management Real-time Stock Tracking, Automated Ordering, Expiry Date Management, Batch and Lot Tracking, Inventory Audits
Billing and Financial Insurance Claims Processing, Invoicing and Billing, Payment Processing, Financial Reporting, Discount and Loyalty Programs
Patient Management Patient Profiles, Medication History, Appointment Scheduling, Medication Reminders, Patient Communication
Point of Sale (POS) Transaction Processing, Cash Register Management, Receipt Generation, Sales Reporting, Inventory Deduction
Reporting and Analytics Customizable Reports, Sales and Revenue Analytics, Inventory Analytics, Patient Care Metrics, Operational Efficiency Metrics
User Management Role-Based Access Control, User Activity Monitoring, Staff Performance Metrics, Training and Onboarding Support
Communication Tools Internal Messaging, Patient Notifications, Healthcare Provider Integration, Feedback and Support Tools

Most PMSs are aimed at helping pharmacists manage their inventory and keep track of their stocks. However, if your system is intended for patients, you may consider adding customer portals and communication modules. Let's explore the features of the pharmacy management system in detail. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer relationship management systems are the heart of every healthcare software. They help you store and process your client base, keep track of changes, and ensure every patient gets the designated medicine on time and at the right dosage. 

  • Customer Profiles: Detailed records of patient medical history, as well as prescribed and taken medicine.
  • Loyalty Programs: Management of customer loyalty programs and promotions.
  • Feedback and Surveys: Tools to collect and analyze customer feedback.

Prescription Management

Pharmacy Management Systems drastically speed up and automate every aspect of prescription handling — from entry to fulfillment. Pharmacists or doctors manually input prescriptions into the system, specifying patients' information, medications, dosage, and other important treatment details. 

The system can store data and check for potential drug interactions, contraindications, and allergies. Once a refill is needed, the patient can submit a request via the system and receive it completely remotely, without the need for an in-person visit. 

  • E-prescribing: Doctors can electronically send their patients' prescriptions directly to a pharmacy with all the details. 
  • Prescription validation: The system automatically checks that the prescription complies with pharmacy protocols and regulatory requirements. It notifies the patient and the doctor if it detects any issues, e.g., medication conflicts. 
  • Refill management: The system can alert the patient when their prescription is due to be refilled and perform the task electronically upon their request.

Inventory Management

The Inventory management module lets you ensure that stock levels are maintained in order. You can view a complete picture of the current stock in your pharmacy and communicate with suppliers. You can also place new orders quickly with autocomplete, see their statuses and history, analyze sales data for better efficiency, and much more. 

The look of the dashboards and their functionality can be designed up to your requirements. If you run pharmacies with multiple locations, inventory management features help you centralize all the data at one place and transfer stocks easily across multiple locations. 

Billing and Financial Management

Managing the financial routine is an essential part of your drug supply business. Pharmacy management software ensures accurate billing and financial records, helping you keep track of your revenues and expenses. 

  • Insurance Claims: Electronic submission and tracking of insurance claims.
  • Billing and Invoicing: Automated billing processes, including the generation of invoices and payment processing.
  • Financial Reports: Detailed financial reporting and analytics to monitor pharmacy performance.

Patient Communication

Patient communication features in pharmacy management software

Patient Communication features help you enhance the interaction between your pharmacy and its patients. On a simple level, they can be mere reminders and notifications promoting customers' prescriptions and medication intake. 

Advanced features will include two-way communication within your system, such as inquiries, feedback forms, patient portals, request consultations, messaging, and even telemedicine app development features.

  • Access to Medical Records: Allows patients to keep track of their prescription history, invoices, and health data.
  • Educational Portals: You can create a knowledge base within your system featuring medication instructions, healthy lifestyle materials, research, etc.
  • Promotions: Sends information about discounts and special offers on health products.
  • Secure Communication: Pharmacists can communicate with patients securely through the system, providing advice, clarifications, and support regarding their prescriptions.

Analytics

Data analytics in pharmaceutical software lets you collect, store, and view all essential business metrics. The most common data includes:

  • Inventory Management Analytics
  • Stock levels and turnover rates
  • Sales and Revenue Analytics
  • Customer Behavior Analytics
  • Customer demographics and segmentation
  • Prescription Analytics
  • Prescription fulfillment rates
  • Financial Analytics
  • Compliance and Risk Management Analytics

On an advanced level, you can integrate patient health analytics, marketing, and promotions, or performance metrics depending on your business needs.

How to Create Pharmacy Management System: 6 Steps

Step 1. Define PMS Requirements

Successful planning of your pharmacy software development lies in close collaboration between pharmacists, pharmacy managers, IT specialists, and other stakeholders to understand their needs, pain points, and expectations from the PMS. Make up a list of questions and gather all the required information:

  • What are the core features and functionalities needed in the pharmacy management software?
  • What are the specific business goals the software aims to achieve?
  • Who are the primary users of the software (e.g., pharmacists, patients, administrators)?
  • What are the regulatory compliance requirements?

Step 2. Document Functional and Non-functional Requirements

Functional requirements define what a system should do. Here, you specify the core functionalities of your pharmacy software, such as prescription management, inventory control, billing, patient records, reporting, and integration needs with other healthcare systems.

The non-functional requirements define how a system should behave. Here, you spell out your system requirements for performance, platform support, regulatory compliance, and all other essential data that define your system infrastructure.

Step 3. Choose Technology Stack

The choice of the technology stack for your pharmacy management system involves defining the programming languages and libraries for your front-end and backend. Some features can be implemented using ready-made integrations, so in this step, you need to plan them too.

We’ll look at the technology stack options below, but the two decisive factors in the technology choice are the cost of development and its scalability. Transferring the system to a new stack is a costly endeavor, so you need to make sure your pharmacy software interacts with other healthcare systems (e.g., EHR, EMR), accumulates more data, and allows for seamless functionality expansion in the future.

Step 4. Drawing UI/UX Mockups

Define your UI/UX requirements and how the user feedback will be incorporated into the development process. Pharmacy management software must reflect your brand identity and match the needs of end users — pharmacy specialists and clients. The following workflow will help you approach your pharmacy management system design:

  • Create a database schema that reflects the relationships between entities such as medications, prescriptions, patients, providers, and inventory items.
  • Design intuitive and user-friendly interfaces for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and administrative staff.
  • Ensure accessibility standards are met to accommodate users with disabilities and improve usability for all users.
  • Build prototypes or proof-of-concepts to validate design decisions and gather feedback from stakeholders and end-users.
  • Adopt an iterative design approach to continuously enhance the system based on user feedback, technological advancements, and evolving healthcare practices.

Step 5. Development and QA

The development process of a pharmacy management system begins with setting up the development environment and establishing continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipelines to streamline the development workflow. 

This phase also includes integrating third-party APIs for functionalities like payment processing and drug information. If you develop a complex solution expected to handle high loads, comprehensive testing — manual and automated — should be conducted for each feature.

Step 6. Implementation

Pharmacy management software implementation also requires a well-structured and phased strategy to ensure it blends into your daily operation deployment and all users can make the most of it. The key highlight of this step:

  • Prepare Deployment Environment: Set up the production environment, including servers, databases, and necessary software.
  • Data Migration: If applicable, migrate data from existing to new systems.
  • Deploy the Application: Use CI/CD pipelines to deploy the application to the production environment.
  • Post-Deployment Testing: Conduct thorough testing in the live environment to ensure everything works correctly.
  • User Training and Support: Provide training sessions, user manuals, and ongoing support to help users adapt to the new system.

Pharmacy Management System Technology Stack

Choosing the right technology stack for your Pharmacy Management System requires careful consideration and planning. You need to ensure that the chosen technology matches your requirements and can handle future enhancements if you decide to add any features as the system grows. 

The landscape of the technology needed to implement a pharmacy management system looks as follows.

Programming Languages

  • Python, PHP, JavaScript (Node.js) are best for small PMSs with quick prototyping, dynamic changes and real-time updates
  • Java, .NET, JavaScript (with React.js, Angular, Vue.js) are suitable for large-scale PMSs that prioritize a rich user experience and complex frontend interactions.
  • Depending on the chosen tech core, you will require the usage of the following frameworks and libraries: Spring Boot (Java), Django (Python), .NET Core (C#), Laravel (PHP), React.js, Angular, Vue.js: 

Database Management Systems

The database component is responsible for storing patient records, prescription details, inventory information, and financial transactions. 

  • Relational Databases: MySQL, PostgreSQL, SQL Server

Cloud Services and Hosting

Hosting your PMS requires cloud platform usage. Depending on the complexity of your PMS, your team requires knowledge of virtual machines, managed databases, serverless computing, and global content delivery networks (CDNs).

  • Cloud Platforms: AWS (Amazon Web Services), Azure (Microsoft), Google Cloud Platform

Monitoring and Logging

Logging frameworks capture and store logs generated by the PMS applications and services. They help you monitor system behavior, locate and fix issues, and improve performance operation.

  • Logging Frameworks: Log4j, Logback
  • Monitoring Tools: Prometheus, Grafana

Integration and APIs

Last but not least, if you consider your PMS with other systems, e.g. EHR or payment gateways, you need the relevant API integration. Most integrations are easy to handle, however, some require deep technical expertise, especially for complex multi-level solutions.

To choose the right technology stack, evaluate carefully your PMS requirements, timeline and project budget. 

What are the Must-Follow Pharmacy Software Development Regulations?

Pharmacy software development regulations

Healthcare and pharmacy-related software development involves following strict security and compliance with regulations. Their list varies depending on the target market and use cases. If you develop your pharmacy management system for the USA market, make sure it complies with HIPAA, FDA, personal data collection, and regulations managing e-prescribing processes. If you target European destinations, you must also implement compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Let’s explore the key healthcare software compliance requirements and how to implement them when developing your pharmacy system.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The top-of-mind regulation for any healthcare software in the US is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). It sets the basic unquestionable standards for how customer data is collected, stored, and managed when they use your healthcare product. Its key goal is to protect people and ensure their data safety and confidentiality.

Notably, HIPAA applies not only to healthcare apps. Any software that deals with health-related data, i.e. insurance, wellness programs and pharmaceutical apps, is subject to HIPAA compliance.

How to Implement:

  • Implement role-based access features to ensure only authorized personnel can access Protected health information (PHI).
  • Create multi-factor authentication to ensure proper authorization checks.
  • Encrypt PHI both in transit and at rest.
  • Integrate only secure and reliable APIs to reduce the risk of vulnerabilities for your entire system.
  • Maintain logs of access and changes to PHI.
  • Regularly back up data to prevent loss.
  • Perform regular security audits.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

For apps and software that sells drugs online, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is another important regulation. It defines the safety and legitimacy of access to medical products sold online. 

Pharmacy software is not an exclusion. You must identify it as either Medical Device Data Systems (MDDS) or Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) to ensure it complies with the intended use and manage how customers can access your products.

While the FDA is an extensive document with a broad range of use cases, for pharmaceutical software, you need to pay particular attention to the following sections:

  • 21 CFR Part 11: Describes how electronic records and signatures must be validated, recorded, and audit trails.
  • 21 CFR Part 820: Covers the Quality System Regulation (QSR) for medical devices, including design controls, risk management, and post-market surveillance.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

The DEA regulates the distribution of controlled substances. Online pharmacies dispensing controlled substances must register with the DEA and comply with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

How to implement FDA and DEA:

  • Implement features that ensure all electronic records are recorded accurately and are accessible to the intended people.
  • Ensure that authorized people can make adjustments to data records.
  • Validate the software to ensure it meets intended use.
  • Implement audit trails for electronic records.

Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act

The HITECH Act, passed on February 17, 2009, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, encourages healthcare providers to adopt and use health information technology effectively. Its goal is to improve how medical information is shared and utilized in the US.

The act is necessary for healthcare software that deals with ePHI or involves sharing electronic health information, in which pharmacy management software is the case. It's optional, however, for lifestyle apps or other healthcare software that doesn't involve a high level of personal data sharing.

How to implement:

  • Ensure your solution is fully compliant with HIPAA.
  • Enhance protocols for detecting, responding to, and notifying breaches.

Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Standards (CMS)

Pharmaceutical software usually provides the functionality of e-prescribing. Therefore, you must comply with Electronic Prescribing (eRx) Standards (CMS). This is a separate set of standards that specifically targets patient safety, efficiency, and accuracy in medication management.

How to implement:

  • Integrate e-prescribing modules compliant with CMS standards, e.g., SureScripts, DrFirst Rcopia, Allscripts ePrescribe, Epic e-prescribing, and NextGen Healthcare.
  • Ensure the system safely exchanges data with other EHR systems.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a specific regulation for healthcare software compliance in the EU markets. GDPR applies to organizations within the EU and those outside the EU if they target or store data from EU citizens.

How to implement:

  • Integrate data protection features and privacy controls into the initial design of your pharmacy app.
  • Collect only necessary data.
  • Implement clear forms that inform the user about the data collection, storage, and sharing process and let the user accept or withdraw their consent.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) policies/regulations are the US equivalent of GDPR, needed for all apps that store and collect personal data. It ensures consumer protection and privacy regulations within pharmacy software.

How to implement:

  • Ensure your pharmacy app has a transparent privacy policy explaining how you collect, use, and protect user data.
  • Disclose any third parties with whom you share data and how users can opt out of data sharing if applicable.

5 Best Pharmacy Software Examples

If you consider developing your own PMS, having a good example to follow may come in handy. Here’s our handpicked list of some notable pharmacy software systems with strong prescription management features.

1. PioneerRx

PioneerRx pharmacy management software

PioneerRx is a pharmacy management software renowned for its comprehensive suite of tools tailored to independent pharmacies. Launched in 2008 and based in Texas, PioneerRx supports pharmacies across the United States. Its client base includes independent pharmacies seeking robust prescription management. PioneerRx emphasizes user-friendly interfaces and customizable workflows while ensuring compliance with industry regulations. 

Key Features: 

  • Workflow management, 
  • inventory control, 
  • billing and invoicing, 
  • patient communication,
  • integration with third-party systems.

2. BestRx

BestRx pharmacy management software

BestRx is a specialized pharmacy management software designed specifically for independent pharmacies. Based in the United States, BestRx serves a diverse client base of independent pharmacies nationwide, offering comprehensive features such as prescription management, e-prescribing, inventory tracking, and integrated point-of-sale (POS) capabilities. BestRx’s customers choose it for simplicity, efficiency, and regulatory compliance.

Key Features: 

  • Prescription management, 
  • e-prescribing, 
  • inventory management, 
  • POS integration, 
  • medication synchronization.

3. McKesson Pharmacy Systems

McKesson Pharmacy pharmacy management software

McKesson Pharmacy Systems offers a robust suite of pharmacy management solutions tailored for both retail and hospital pharmacies. Founded in the United States, McKesson has been a key player in healthcare technology since its inception. Their pharmacy systems cater to retail chains, independent pharmacies, and hospital pharmacies across the globe. Known for their emphasis on automation, inventory management, and regulatory compliance, McKesson Pharmacy Systems integrate seamlessly into existing healthcare infrastructures. 

Key Features: 

  • Automation of medication dispensing, 
  • inventory control, 
  • patient safety solutions, 
  • integration with McKesson’s broader healthcare ecosystem.

4. Rx30

Rx30 pharmacy management software

Rx30 is a pharmacy management software that caters to a diverse client base, including independent pharmacies and pharmacy chains. Rx30 focuses on enhancing efficiency, improving patient care, and ensuring compliance with industry regulations. 

Key features:

  • Prescription processing, 
  • inventory management, 
  • workflow optimization, 
  • support.

5. Kroll

Kroll pharmacy management software

Kroll is a prominent provider of pharmacy management software solutions tailored specifically for Canadian pharmacies. The software supports a wide range of pharmacies, including retail, hospital, and specialty pharmacies and emphasizes integration with Canadian healthcare systems. It has full compliance with local regulations. 

Key features:

  • Prescription management, 
  • dispensing, 
  • inventory control, 
  • patient management tools,
  • intuitive interface.

Wrapping Up

The development of pharmacy management software is a long-term investment. While startup costs can be daunting, they represent an opportunity to tap into a rapidly expanding mobile audience and enhance loyalty among existing customers.

If you are thinking about how to start a pharmacy management software, get in touch with us to discuss your project. From initial consultation through custom software development to ongoing expert support, NEKLO can deliver tailored solutions that meet your business needs.