Is an IVR service right for my pharmacy?

I often get asked the question “Is an IVR worth it?” and my answer is always “Yes absolutely!” An IVR helps an independent pharmacy in more ways than one. Most pharmacies rely on their IVR to reduce the staff workload everyday. In this post we discuss the many different concerns and uses of an IVR system.

When I talk to new and existing pharmacy owners about an IVR I get a mixed reaction. Some owners believe an IVR takes away from the personal experience a pharmacy staff member can provide.  However an IVR allows your pharmacy staff to have a more efficient pharmacy workflow. The staff is  not on the phone constantly submitting refill requests and answering basic questions about your pharmacy. Another concern we come across is once a pharmacy adds an IVR – their patients will not like it. Our solution: add your voice or a voice the patient already knows as the greeting as soon as they call. Yes that’s right. You can record a personal greeting that greets callers as soon as they call your pharmacy with your own voice.

What is an IVR?

IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. It is technology that allows a computer to interact with humans through the use of voice and “Touch-Tone” inputs via a phone or keypad. A pharmacy IVR usually offers 3 different options or tiers of service for an IVR.  Each tier is a bit different and I will go over each of them.

Inbound IVR – Inbound IVR refers to the customer or doctor calling the pharmacy and refilling an RX without having to talk to any pharmacy staff member. The option to leave a voicemail, speak to a pharmacy staff member, refill rx, directions to the pharmacy, and pharmacy hours are all other options of inbound IVR. The prescription refills are usually automatically send to your refill que in your pharmacy system.

Outbound IVR – Outbound IVR refers to the automated calling features of the IVR system from the pharmacy system. For example: Automatically calling or texting a patient to pick up their prescription. Pharmacies also use outbound communication through the IVR as a marketing tool to reach their patients. Example: “Flu shots are now in for $25, stop in today.”

Cloud IVR – Cloud IVR refers to the cloud or online services of the IVR system.  This can include mobile apps designed specifically for your pharmacy and allows your patients to refill their RX directly from their mobile device. Another feature of this service is the ability to refill prescriptions directly from your pharmacies website.

Why should your pharmacy use an IVR?

A pharmacy owners reason to use an IVR service can be explained in one sentence. Patients and doctors expect pharmacies to have an IVR when they call your pharmacy. If that’s not enough how about the reduction of calls for your pharmacy staff for refills? In 2018 an average of 15.2 million texts are sent every minute and that tells a pharmacy owner they need to have that form of communication to their patients. An IVR allows your patients to receive ready notifications and even requests refills via text. A feature of the “Cloud” ivr is a mobile app. Some IVR companies will create a custom mobile app developed specifically for your pharmacy with your logo and your brand. Customers simple type in your pharmacy name on the app store and they can refill their rx, see photos of the medication they are taking, see their rx history and more.

The price of an IVR system.

Most IVR systems are around the same price but it all comes down to the services provided. Perhaps your pharmacy doesn’t need the mobile app provided by the IVR company but really could use the inbound and outbound services. You can expect to pay an upfront licensing fee and installation fee of a few thousand dollars. There is also a monthly or annual payment associated with IVR systems. The monthly is usually a few hundred per month, again it all depends on the services chosen.

Some IVR systems will also try to be your phone provider as well. We do not recommend IVR services that try to control everything. Often we see issues with IVR services going offline thus causing the phones going offline for the pharmacy as well. We always separate phones from IVR for all of our clients.

Is the hefty price worth it?

pharmacy-ivr-systemIt all comes down to price for most pharmacy owners. Can they validate the cost of an expensive IVR system? Most pharmacy owners that currently use an IVR would recommend it simply for the reduction of refill requests and 24/7 access to the pharmacy. Does the competition use an IVR? Do your potential and current patients expect to be notified when their prescription is ready by text? We always recommend an IVR to our clients but we make sure they know how to get the most from their IVR. We tell our clients your paying for an expensive service, take advantage of it. The outbound communication to reach your patients via text is key.

Choosing an IVR company

Not all IVR companies are the same. Some are a little better than others. While some offer much better support and stability it really comes down to which system is compatible with your pharmacy software. Below is a list of some of the common pharmacy systems and the IVR companies they work with.

McKesson Pharmaserv / EnterpriseRX IVR
PioneerRX IVR
ComputerRX IVR

Still interested in learning more about IVR for your pharmacy. Check out our other page on IVR systems located here.

If you have questions about IVR and want to know which IVR will work best with your pharmacy system contact ConfigRX. Looking to start or buy a pharmacy? Check out a free download about IVRs located here – scroll down to the bottom for the free downloads.