Having an efficient pharmacy workflow can make the difference between profitability and non-profitability for your drugstore. It's no secret that the lion's share of an independent pharmacy's revenue is gained through the sale of prescription medications, and the more you can do to improve your pharmacy workflow, the more you should see your prescriptions revenue increase. In addition, more efficient operations will translate into increased customer satisfaction and lower stress levels for staff and customers alike. Improving your pharmacy workflow should:
- Increase your output of prescriptions
- Reduce the number of prescription errors
- Reduce confusion and redundancies
- Increase staff member job satisfaction
- Increase the opportunities for and the quality of patient interactions
- Improve the patient experience
- Provide additional time for the pharmacist to handle other obligations often sidelined due to “lack of time”
Simply stated, pharmacy workflow is every activity that takes place from the time a customer's doctor's prescription is received in your pharmacy until the ordered medication is received by the patient. There are numerous ways that the process can be improved, streamlined or otherwise optimized in areas such as:
- Communication between staff and also between staff members and clients
- Inventory management
- Work station setup
- Prescription processing
A major benefit of a streamlined workflow process will be apparent in the saving of time – for both technicians and pharmacists – which will directly translate out to dollar savings. Staff salaries represent a major cost of doing business, and if more scripts can be turned around in less time, this simply gives you more for your money. You'll also be saving your customers' time, as they won't be cooling their heels in the prescription pickup area waiting for their meds to be handed over. Speed in receiving their prescription orders is something your patients will both notice and appreciate.
Now You Know the Why
Once you understand the importance of why having a more efficient back-end workflow is so important to your operation, it's just a matter of observing the current process and taking the necessary steps to change things for the better. The first step is to observe what's going on back there behind the prescription counter. Get everyone involved in this observation exercise and let them all provide input into improving the process. Here are some things to consider:
- Designing an optimized workflow plan should start with mapping out your current workflow process. This should include things that may seem mundane such as counting physical steps and timing how long it typically takes to complete a particular function.
- Look for bottlenecks in the process and determine what can be moved around in order to make the filling process quicker and easier.
- Setting up a type of linear assembly line will help clarify each specific step in the process. Ideally, each step will have its own work station and dedicated operator.
- Ensure that each work station is ergonomically set up and that all the tools and supplies needed are at hand. Consider ways to bring the work closer to the technician or pharmacist at each station. Strive to cut down unnecessary bending, turning and walking. This will save time and wear and tear on the body.
- Use color-coded baskets in order to help with prioritization of specific orders. This is an easy, effective way of reducing filling errors.
It's a good idea to always be on the lookout for ways to enhance your pharmacy workflow. Always seeking ways to make things better and enlisting the aid of your staff for their ideas will help in promoting ongoing efficiency. Everyone involved stands to gain.