5 Success Tips from Experienced Pharmacists About Workflow

Posted by Robert Walthall on Thu, Oct, 08, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

5 Success Tips from Experienced Pharmacists About WorkflowAs an independent pharmacist, if you want to be successful, you have to have an efficient pharmacy workflow. You've got big shoes to fill since your competitors may have resources you don't – but you also have the ability to give customers the kind of personal service that retail chains lack.

An efficient workflow means that you save time; in turn, that means you can take better care of your patients and customers. By doing so, you increase profit. Here are five success tips from experienced pharmacists that can improve your pharmacy workflow.

1. Make privacy an integral part of an optimized workflow

You need to be available to patients, but you also need to be able to work quickly. Keep workstations private and away from customer areas so that your technicians can be more efficient. New HIPAA regulations also require that patient health information be strictly protected – yet another reason to make sure you have privacy protocols in place.

Two workspace changes will both improve pharmacy workflow efficiency and ensure privacy: a privacy wall and private filling stations for technicians. A privacy wall can serve double duty as a "point of sale" bagging area and as a means to block you off from patients so that they aren't able to hear or see what you're doing. This allows you to concentrate (and thus avoid prescription errors and other mistakes). It also lets you have conversations with employees that won't violate HIPAA privacy rules, since patients won't be able to hear what you're saying. Technicians, too, need to be able to work away from patient/customer distractions to avoid errors. Streamlined for efficiency, private filling stations allow technicians to do their jobs so that you can do yours – focusing on customers and patients.

2. Use technology to streamline the pharmacy workflow process

Robotics can help technicians work quickly and accurately, while interactive voice response (IVR) reduces the amount of time employees have to spend on the phone.

3. Establish efficient foot traffic patterns in tight workspaces

It has been shown that when drugs are repackaged into smaller units for individual patients (as compared to single-use units), every prescription requires the employee to make two round trips between fill counter and storage shelving. Each round trip takes an average of 44 seconds for the repackaged units, and 22 seconds for the single-use units. Reduce the amount of time needed for these trips by minimizing the amount of space employees need to travel between fill counters and storage. Diagram foot traffic patterns in tight workspaces as needed to avoid bottlenecks and wait times.

4. Keep workstations organized and comfortable

Workstations should both be organized and have protocols to keep them that way. Dispensing area supplies should be within easy reach, and the area should stay at a comfortable temperature and light level. Store inventory neatly so that supplies are readily accessible. Make sure storage area is an adequate size, with fixtures of proper size, height, and configurations for the tasks to be done there.

5. Revisit and reevaluate

Simply updating automation equipment, reorganizing workspaces, and establishing foot traffic patterns and other protocols isn't enough to keep you efficient. Reevaluate technology and protocols regularly to make sure you're still as efficient as you can be.

Establishing pharmacy workflow efficiency (and keeping it in place) is essential. Establish protocols, buy or upgrade automation technology to make prescription fills accurate and efficient, and revisit already established workflows regularly to make sure it's still as efficient as possible. If it's not, revise it. Staying on top of your workflow means you have more time to spend with patients and customers – the lifeblood of your business.

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Topics: pharmacy workflow

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