While there are no hard-and-fast rules that can determine the exact setup of your pharmacy back end area, we can all agree that an efficient pharmacy workflow benefits everyone – customers and staff alike. Part of the secret to creating this efficient workflow is to ensure that the pharmacy workflow stations are appropriately designed and installed and that staff members assigned to those stations are adequately trained for their positions.
The pharmacist, like the quarterback in a football game, is in charge of calling the plays and needs to know that each player understands their specific role, has the knowledge and ability to fulfill the requirements of that role, and is properly equipped for the task. Some of the many tasks that need to go on, often simultaneously, include:
- Taking in and inputting prescription orders
- Counting out medications
- Checking to ensure prescriptions are correct
- Doctor callbacks
- Calling insurance carriers
- Label printing
- Packaging medications
All of these activities are in addition to answering the phones, counseling clients, cashing out their purchases, plus providing ancillary services such as blood pressure checks and immunizations.
Turn Chaos into Continuity
While all these back end activities can sometimes cause a bit of chaos, especially in a busy store, order can be restored by the establishment of a clear and efficient pharmacy workflow. A basic workflow includes four workstations: prescription input, fill, verification and customer checkout. Here’s what happens at each station:
- Prescription Input: The role of the technician filling this post is to face incoming customers to receive their prescription orders. Appropriate client and billing information are then entered via the computer located at this station, including insurance information. This individual will also handle dropped off refill requests as well as orders coming in electronically or by telephone.
- Prescription Filling: The role of this tech is to correctly fill each prescription order, label and package the medication, and ensure that an insurance claim is properly billed. Verification should be made by scanning the NDC barcode to ensure the medication came from the appropriate inventory container and was placed in the correct type of prescription bottle.
- Pharmacist Verification: At this point, all prescriptions passed along by the fill technician are checked to ensure proper processing. Clinical and financial reviews should also be made, at which time the order is passed to the customer checkout clerk who is located in the point of sale area.
- Checkout Clerk: The role of this individual is to bag all orders, assign a number for those orders that will be picked up later, and engage each customer regarding any additional assistance they may require. They may offer information about appropriate over-the-counter remedies for which the client may have a need.
Depending on your particular pharmacy and the amount of traffic typically seen, other workstation roles may be appropriate. These may include a technician dedicated to working with insurance claims or an individual in charge of managing the will-call orders.
A new trend in pharmacy back end management has the pharmacist stationed out front with the prescription input technician. This way, the pharmacist can interact personally with every single patient, offer advice when appropriate, and check incoming prescription orders for accuracy. When set up this way, this workstation will typically have two separate computers and two telephones.
With an efficient pharmacy workflow setup, everyone benefits. The pharmacist is freed up to meet face to face with patients, which is what most customers want. It works well.