What do you think of "pharmacy workflow"? Is it something that you set up when you first went into business, only to become lax about it as time went on?
Revisit your workflow strategies every so often to make sure what you've established is still working. New employees will need to be trained in proper workflow procedures (such as repackaging sequences) anyway, so it's worth your time to make sure that your current pharmacy workflow is at its most efficient.
These five pharmacy workflow tricks can help keep processes in your pharmacy moving along smoothly.
- Make privacy a priority
Establish your workspace and set up workflow away from customers' eyes and ears. Not only will it allow you and your technicians to concentrate on the work at hand without interruption, but it will also help ensure that you're in compliance with the stricter HIPAA regulations that went into effect in 2013, restricting customers and patients from overhearing what you're saying.
One practical way to accomplish this is to set up a privacy wall to serve as a "point-of-sale" bagging area. This will allow you to have private discussions with customers that won't be overheard by other patients. Another way is establishing private workstations for your technicians to minimize your techs' distractions and thus reduce mistakes. These tech stations can also be customized to each technician's needs for best efficiency.
- Use technology
Technology can make your workflow process more efficient when it manages automated rote tasks so that you and your employees can take care of those tasks that need the human touch. Let robotics help technicians work quickly and accurately, and use interactive voice response technology so that you spend less time talking on the phone.
- Establish foot traffic patterns in workspaces
One of the most important tasks that foot traffic patterns affect is the repackaging of drugs into smaller units for individual patients. A single prescription fill requires employees to make two round trips between the areas where the drugs are stored and the fill counter. On average, it takes employees 44 seconds to make the round trip for repackaged units and 22 seconds for single use units. That adds up. You can reduce this "travel time" by reducing the distance between storage and fill counters with efficient traffic patterns.
- Organize workstations for efficiency
Supplies should be within easy reach in the dispensing area, which should have comfortable temperatures and light levels. Store inventory efficiently and intuitively so there's no time wasted spent searching for what you need. Storage areas and units should be of the right type, size, height, and configuration for the tasks they serve.
- Revisit workflow protocols regularly to change as needed
Once you've set up your workflow for best efficiency, revisit it every so often both to make sure it's still working and to ensure that employees are still following the protocols you've set up. As new technologies, employee preferences, and workspace configurations change, your workflow, too, may need to change to stay efficient.
An efficient pharmacy workflow isn't just a "necessary evil" that you and your employees must comply with to stay profitable. It can actually make your work easier and more enjoyable – and most importantly, it can give you more time to spend with your customers and patients.