Whether you're having problems in the implementation of an efficient pharmacy workflow system or already have a fairly smooth running system but would like to further improve it, here are some ideas that may prove helpful. Maintaining an efficient pharmacy workflow provides numerous benefits, each of which directly or indirectly has a positive effect on what should be the number-one mission of your pharmacy: increased customer satisfaction.
Some of these benefits include:
- Reduced customer wait times for prescription fills
- More time for the on-duty pharmacist to provide patient counseling and ancillary services, such as blood pressure checks
- Reduced stress on employees because of continual time pressures, leading to improved quality of employee/customer interactions and less employee turnover arising from job dissatisfaction
- Prescriptions are filled with maximum accuracy, helping avoid potential filling errors
- Productivity is improved, allowing for more prescriptions to be filled each day
Improved Pharmacy Workflow Fixes
The above benefits are a mere sampling of what can happen when your pharmacy's back-end prescription-filling area is running like a well-oiled machine. Although there are plenty of other things taking place in your store in the front-end merchandising area, there's no question that a healthy prescription-filling business will be the main engine in creating a healthy bottom line. And even though your front-end personnel may not be directly involved in what's going on in the back end, when things are running smoothly back there, the general attitude in the entire store is heightened for employees and customers alike.
Your pharmacy workflow consists of every step occurring during a prescription fill—from the initial contact when a customer brings in a prescription all the way through to that same client walking out the door with their filled order.
Actually, the process begins before the prescription is handed over at the prescription counter. Employees at the front of the store who are the first to interact with a customer will set the stage for a warm, welcoming, friendly visit and a decidedly positive shopping experience by the nature of their greeting.
Once the client makes it back to the prescription counter, the official workflow is set into operation and should run like clockwork. Here are some tips to consider in fixing any problems you're encountering with the process:
- Take the time to observe each individual step that takes place during a prescription fill and have your technicians do the same while taking notes. Often a formal workflow process has never been established, but your current system has just been cobbled together. You want to create an organized workflow where things are done the same way every time. Gather everyone's notes regarding what's working well and what's not. Things not working or activities that have staff members tripping over one another or creating bottlenecks should be addressed.
- Improvements to the workflow process may require updated workstations where everything required to complete each particular step is within easy reach. Eliminating the need to bend, stretch and walk will be a big help in promoting efficiency.
- Responsibility for tasks currently being completed by the pharmacist that could be done by a technician instead should be swapped over. Jobs being done by technicians that would be more quickly and more accurately done by automated equipment should be considered, which may mean an investment in new equipment.
The state of your pharmacy workflow system affects your bottom line. Any improvements to this system will create a better working atmosphere and boost profits. Striving to improve the workflow is an ongoing process that should be revisited frequently.