With Cash Customers on the Rise, AI Could be Key to Pharmacy Pricing Profitability


Does your pharmacy have the right technology in place to meet the ever-changing needs of your community and your business?

Are you seeing more cash-paying customers at your counter?

This scenario may be on the uptick as more employers offer high-deductible health plans (HDHPs). A recent survey on consumer attitudes toward prescription medication found that 57% of respondents had asked for the cash price at the pharmacy counter even though they had insurance. And even with that insurance, 66% of respondents thought they paid too much.1

Clearly, customers are looking for ways to save on their prescriptions and that could mean paying with cash or popular savings cards. As patients look to pay less, community pharmacists need to be ready with a smart pricing solution that keeps customers happy and boosts the bottom line.

Enter artificial intelligence (AI).

Transforming the way pharmacists do business

AI is so much more than what we see in movies. It’s real technology that is making a significant impact on pharmacies across the country. With solutions that can empower pharmacies, AI provides nearly limitless opportunities to better connect with patients and build your business.

For example, the insights and analytics AI provides are transforming the prescription pricing landscape. Community pharmacists need an accurate, profitable pricing system that flexes by drug and fairly positions their business against other pharmacies, big and small. AI-based pricing has the smarts to check all these boxes and more.

But how? Let’s take a look.

What can AI do for your pharmacy’s pricing system?

Every pharmacy and its patient demographics are unique. A family-run store in a town of 1500 has a different set of attributes and challenges than a major chain in the middle of Manhattan.

Humans look at these attributes and make strategic decisions based on experience and expertise. But AI has the power to analyze a multitude of dimensions and come up with data-driven insights that lead to opportunities and solutions our brains may never even consider.

AI does this by ingesting and processing massive amounts of information and analyzing for trends based on any number of inputs, including location, demographics, seasonality, and, in the case of prescription drugs, therapeutic type and usage. Applying this intelligence to the guesswork of drug pricing can increase profitability and efficiency while still balancing what patients want and need.

A pricing system that utilizes AI can bring a list of predictably profitable benefits to your pharmacy. Here are just a few:

  • A personalized analytics summary with actionable recommendations.
  • Data visualizations down to the drug level.
  • Claims data analyzation to understand current drug pricing.
  • Competitor pricing evaluation, so you can ensure pricing is market competitive.

Ultimately, AI can help determine the elasticityof drug pricing, breaking down the complexity of it with sophistication while offering real recommendations on how to price your top medications.

What’s more, AI can contribute to making drug pricing more transparent, which is a plus for both you and your patients. AI also finds ways to bring trust and transparency to the surface and push money back to the pharmacy and the consumer.

Happier, healthy customers and a better bottom line

As always, adopting a new pricing system can feel overwhelming and it’s hard to trust a new type of technology. But pharmacists who have implemented AI into their pricing systems say the process is worth it.

I spoke to Jeff Harrell, PharmD, and multiple-pharmacy owner in the state of Washington about AI.

“AI-optimized pricing gives me confidence to compete profitably without leaving money on the table,” he said.

Although he was skeptical at first—and rightly so—Harrell came around to the idea from the sheer value of the data.

“I was taken aback with the thoroughness and sophistication of the analysis. We got down to the drug-level, detail-by-detail,” he said.

But using AI doesn’t take away from what’s at the center of everything we pharmacists do: patient care.

No matter what technological solutions can bring to the table, people will always be top-of-mind. As consumers continue to seek ways to save on their prescriptions, pharmacists will need technology in place to keep up with demands.

AI-driven pricing is just another way to engage customers, win over new ones, stay profitable, and continue to provide the essential community support that only trusted pharmacists can offer.

About the Author

Paige Clark, RPh, is the VP of Pharmacy Programs and Policy at Prescryptive, overseeing the company’s policy work to drive awareness, utilization, and scope of trusted independent pharmacists nationally. Prior to Prescryptive, Paige spent 11 years at Oregon State University's College of Pharmacy, driving policy initiatives for the state’s licensed pharmacists, including the prescribing of birth control and tobacco cessation services. Paige also worked as the Staff Pharmacist Consultant for the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, managing rule writing, legislative endeavors, and regional and national policy work. She is a frequent speaker and presenter at national industry conferences and a multi-award winner, including several Pharmacist of the Year recognitions.


1. Consumers In Pain Over High Prescription Prices, Ready To Take Action And In Need Of Better Tools, According To Survey By Scripta Insights. Scripta Insights. News release. April 14, 2021. Accessed August 16, 2022. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/consumers-in-pain-over-high-prescription-prices-ready-to-take-action-and-in-need-of-better-tools-according-to-survey-by-scripta-insights-301268409.html?tc=eml_cleartime

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