The Boston Consulting Group on Strategy was a recent purchase and has quickly gained prominence on my bookshelf. It’s a collection of BCG articles from over the years, grouped together into a huge, helpful resource.
User @kahji asked about Automated Prescription Vending machines on today’s BusinessLunchClub discussion. Great question! It made me think about the pros and cons, and I sent some in a tweet but am expanding on it here.
- Lower cost: Less cost for storage, pharm-techs, etc.
- Reduced human error: I can’t read those doctor’s prescriptions and I’m not sure that pharmacists can, either.
- 24/7 service: Assuming that these are in a publicly accessible place 24/7. (Although, in some neighborhoods, that might be a con, not a pro).
- It seems like there is little control over who can pick up the meds. APVs would allow anyone with the right prescription document to get it. That doesn’t seem right to me. Isn’t there some kind of identity check required for the release of meds? [Disclaimer it's been a long time since I've had a prescription filled... so maybe there isn't].
- Pharmacists are (in my opinion) a HUGE part of the medical system but are undervalued as merely being human prescription vendors. I think they can do much more and I’m afraid that we would lose that with a vending machine. In many ways, it’s not like a bank’s ATM (replacing the teller) or a pop machine (replacing the convenience store clerk). Pharmacists also provide advice.
Potential middle ground: Standard meds for seasoned users would be a good use for APVs. But for first time med users, and for medicines that have serious side-effects or non-standard formulations, a pharmacist is still necessary.
As an investment opportunity, I’m curious about getting one of these for the lobbies of doctor’s offices. Doctor writes a prescription and it can be filled right in the lobby on the patient’s way out the door. Fast and convenient. I’m not sure about the ethical implications, though: would a doctor tend to prescribe medication that was available at their APV (assuming that they’re getting a small incentive)?
Here’s a cautionary tale from my college days: We had a vending machine in the laundry room of my dorm. And someone discovered that if you put inyour change, you could get your pop… and then you could also get as many iced teas as you wanted, simply by pressing the iced tea button several times. And then you could press the coin return button and a handful of change would be dispensed. As you can imagine, it lasted until we ran out of iced tea and change and then the company switched machines. Note to APV manufacturers: You’ll want to implement some related controls!
I’m a fan of Don Tapscott’s work. Although this isn’t my favorite book of his (Sorry Don, but Digital Capital and Creating Value in the Network Economy are two of my favorite books), Wikinomics is timely and relevant with plenty of online content available. A good read.
The second stage of the Business Diamond Framework™’s 3i Methodology™ is to create innovative strategies to help organizations lower costs, raise revenues, and differentiate. (If you’re totally new to the Business Diamond Framework™, click here for a quick synopsis).
There are a number of tools practitioners can use to innovate but one of the easiest ways to generate innovation in this stage is to move departments and roles and processes from one Function Diamond to another. (For example, from the Support Diamond to the To-Market Diamond or from the Value-Add Diamond to Leadership Diamond).
A popular example of this is the IT department. In many businesses, the IT department would be defined as a Support Diamond part of the organization. Because of that, the IT department is reactive and often merely tasked to patch together a computer system to let the company achieve a baseline of internal and external communication. Then, they are tasked to maintain that baseline. That’s a classic Support Diamond problem — the expectation that departments, processes, and roles in this Function Diamond will perform at a specific minimum.
But a simple, conceptual shift from the Support Diamond means that IT is no longer reacting as a supporting department.
Shifting IT into the Value-Add Diamond puts the department to work as an essential part of the business that intentionally contributes to the business’ Value Chain. Or, shifting IT into the Leadership Diamond puts the department to work as a business enabler — a department that drives positive change and encourages forward momentum by becoming a decision maker in the business. We see this a little with the role of the CIO, but it’s just the beginning. When I did some writing for SAP, this was a big deal that we were addressing. And I recently found this book, which I thought was also relevent: 2017: The End of IT as We Know It.
But IT is just one example, of course. There are other departments, processes, and roles that can be shifted from one Function Diamond to another to create innovative ways of doing business.
Want to stir up your business for some fresh and innovative thinking? Identify a role and explore ways to shift them into another Function Diamond.