Go With the Flow: 6 Tips for Creating a Functional Pharmacy Workflow

Posted by Robert Walthall on Tue, May, 17, 2016 @ 08:00 AM

Go With the Flow: 6 Tips for Creating a Functional Pharmacy WorkflowCreating a more functional pharmacy workflow should be an ongoing goal of pharmacy owners, managers, and pharmacists, as these efforts will lead to improved productivity, efficiency, and accuracy. Simple steps like pinpointing inefficiencies such as redundant or unnecessary movements and excessive bending and reaching can make a big difference over the long hours of a working day. Saving time during the process of intake, filling, and putting out completed prescriptions not only makes for a happier client, but also a more satisfied staff. It also allows more opportunity for the pharmacist on duty to spend time counseling customers or just passing time visiting with them while they're waiting – all of which promotes better customer relations.

Consider the following:

Specific Tips on Improving Your Pharmacy Workflow

  1. It’s a good idea to analyze your pharmacy’s back-end operations on a regular basis to assess the basic prescription process, including wait times, walking distances for staff, work station suitability, and space requirements for different operations. Talk to employees to determine what’s working well for them and what might need to be tweaked. As things become more automated in an effort to improve your pharmacy workflow, changes in work space configurations will naturally have to be made.

  2. Starting with the drop-off point, where clients hand over their prescriptions to a staff member, ensure that the location is clearly identified so customers know exactly where to come. This area should consist of a large, flat countertop so that clients have space to put down their things while looking for their insurance data card and where staff will have a space to place the prescription and patient information while entering this information into the system. A computer terminal and telephone should be available here, plus a scanner if your procedure includes scanning scripts into the system. This counter area, ideally, should serve no other purpose than that of a drop-off point and is best when it’s designed to accommodate the presence of multiple staff members.

  3. Ergonomics are an important factor in your back-end design, with work spaces set up so as to minimize walking, bending, and reaching as much as possible. Installation of the proper types of desks, cabinets, counters, and other fixtures makes a big difference here. Consulting with a professional pharmacy design firm can provide you with ideas and suggestions on how to most effectively and economically outfit your back-end work stations.

  4. Proper lighting levels are important for both staff members and customers. Lighting should be focused, but not harsh. LEDs are a much better option than fluorescent tube lighting.

  5. The pharmacist should be located in the forefront of the back-end in a semi-private area while remaining readily accessible to clients. The pharmacist will be positioned close to the point of sale as final check of the prescription and a quick consultation with the client if needed. If staff members are often running into each other, a change in the workflow design is definitely needed.

  6. Automated systems such as robotic pill dispensing equipment have become much more affordable in the past few years. These units can allow you to increase productivity significantly with no addition of more staff members. In addition to automated pill counters, you may also employ units that can measure and mix powders and liquids for use when compounding prescriptions. Use of robotic devices can not only improve productivity, but also lessen the chances of cross-contamination and improve prescription filling accuracy, which lowers instances of prescription mistakes.

These ideas and others may help improve back-end operations in your pharmacy and should benefit both staff members and clients. Remember, even small improvements can pay big dividends.

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