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Enhancing Pharmacy Sustainability: Replacing Paper Printouts with Digital Solutions, Part 1

The healthcare industry is increasingly gravitating towards sustainability, recognizing that environmental stewardship not only aligns with its ethos of care but also brings about operational efficiencies. When we home in on pharmacies, a silent but significant contributor to environmental degradation comes into focus: paper waste. In this progressive age of digital innovation, pharmacies stand at the threshold of a pivotal shift towards enhancing sustainability – specifically through the reduction of paper usage. 

Challenges of Paper Waste in Pharmacies

It’s an undeniable fact that paper waste has profound, detrimental effects on the environment. In pharmacies, the sheer quantity of documentation adds up – from drug monographs to vaccine information statements, each serving a critical role in patient care but eventually contributing to a mountainous paper waste. 

The Environmental Toll

The ecological impact of paper waste spans from deforestation to water and air pollution. Paper comprises the largest portion — 33% — of all municipal solid waste; out of this, 26% of the content in landfills is attributed to paper. The cycle perpetuates exhausting natural resources and exacerbating climate change through high energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions associated with paper production.

A Focus on Specific Documentation

While various hospital departments grapple with paper waste, pharmacies uniquely manage a spectrum of FDA-required and patient-specific literature. While these mandated documents are mission-critical, they also significantly contribute to overall paper consumption. Targeting these high-impact documents for a transition could yield substantial reductions in pharmacy waste.

Benefits of Transitioning to Digital Solutions

Converting paper documentation into digital formats is not merely a green initiative; it is a strategic move that offers compounded benefits to pharmacies, patients, and the planet alike.

Cost Savings in Paper and Printing

Pharmacies can expect tangible economic benefits from using less paper. Printing costs – including expenses for paper, toner, and machinery upkeep – constitute a considerable portion of operational budgets. Electronic documentation slashes these costs, contributing to long-term financial viability.

Enhanced Efficiency and Accessibility

The convenience and accessibility of electronic documentation are unparalleled. With digital databases, pharmacists can retrieve patient records with a few keystrokes, expedite services, and ensure that healthcare providers have immediate access to pertinent medical information. With patient portals and other electronic means, patients can find easily important documentation.

Implementing Electronic Solutions in Pharmacy Settings

A seamless transition to a predominantly digital approach requires careful planning, suitable technology investment, and robust staff training.

Technology Options for Electronic Document Distribution

A myriad of software platforms and hardware solutions can assist in the digital distribution of documents. From scanners that digitize incoming documents to secure storage solutions for electronic records, the market offers a versatile array of options.

For example, EnlivenHealth’s Digital Medication Information Delivery (DMID) allows pharmacies to electronically send drug monographs, vaccine information statements, and other prescription-related documents to your patients via SMS text, email, mobile app notification, or QR code. Not only does this save on printing costs, it also improves patient outcomes and pharmacy efficiency; since patients can access that information digitally, it saves on calls to the pharmacy (since those printouts attached to each prescription usually end up in the trash).

Training and Support for Staff

The heart of this transformation lies in effectively orienting and supporting pharmacy staff. Comprehensive training programs must encompass the safety and confidentiality of electronic data and equip staff with the technical skills necessary for daily operations.

It’s Time for a Digital Solution

The transformative path of paper to digital is not just a matter of adopting modern operational protocols; it is a beacon of progress in healthcare sustainability. The benefits are clear – ecological preservation, operational excellence, and a resilient pathway to future healthcare. The question is not why, but how and when, and the answer lies within your commitment to making a difference.

The prescription for pharmacy sustainability is within reach, and it starts with the decision to reduce paper waste through digital solutions. The time is now to grasp this opportunity, not just for a single pharmacy or individual but for the collective health of our planet.


Amplicare is now part of EnlivenHealth®


FDSRX is now part of EnlivenHealth®