How to Plan Pharmacy Workflow Design for New Construction or Remodeling

Posted by Robert Walthall on Tue, Jul, 14, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

shutterstock_93722809You wear many hats as an independent pharmacist. However, no matter how busy you get, you cannot afford to ignore your customers' needs or make mistakes, especially when you fill prescriptions. For you it's not just a matter of "good business practices" or profitability, but of safety.

A new pharmacy workflow design can significantly cut down on the possibility of prescription error, and of other problems like unwitting industry noncompliance. It'll also make you more efficient and give you more time to spend on your customers.

Here are six things you can do to plan your pharmacy workflow design to boost efficiency and minimize mistakes:

Eliminate Pharmacy Workflow Inefficiencies

Take a look at your current space. Does it require you or your technicians to take more steps than necessary to complete specific tasks? Are there "bottlenecks" that slow everyone down?

Set up the new workspace so that everything you and your employees need is within easy reach. Eliminate bottlenecks with a streamlined set-up and even plan out "traffic flow patterns" of a sort to create the most efficient space possible.

Minimize Distractions, Especially During Prescription Dispensation

A single interruption during a prescription dispensation can increase the possibility of error by 13%, and that percentage compounds with every interruption that happens during the same prescription fill -- with possibly dire, even deadly, consequences. The simplest fix is to eliminate those distractions and interruptions.

Set Up a Private Area for Prescription Filling

This area should be away from customer patient traffic and, if possible, closed off completely from the rest of your pharmacy. If your customers and patients can't see you or your technicians working, they can't ask questions or otherwise interrupt you while you are filling prescriptions. Avoiding interruptions can go a long way toward preventing errors.

You can also set up a privacy wall that doubly functions as a bagging area for point-of-sale if you wish; by doing this, you'll still block your customers' view of you so that they can't see or hear you and give you the ability to concentrate. You can also talk with employees if need be without fear of customers' overhearing. (This is especially important since new HIPAA regulations require strict privacy protocols for patient health information.)

Set Up a Proper Workspace Where Prescriptions are Filled

A proper workspace should be constructed to have adequate lighting and should have enough counter space at the right height to make dispensing prescriptions as physically comfortable as possible. The more comfortable you or your technicians are, the less likely you are to make mistakes.

Incorporate New Technologies

Robots can never take your place, but they can certainly make dispensing easier. As you set up new workspaces with your new construction or remodeling, consider incorporating automation technology into those workspaces. You'll improve your productivity, and it give you more time to focus on your customers and patients.

Adhere to HIPAA Regulations

New HIPAA regulations that took effect in September 2013 require more strict and additional rigorous protections of patient health information (PHI) than ever before. These new regulations mean that you must set up pharmacy workflow patterns to include centralized workstations with access protocols, and lockable storage for portable devices like laptops and tablets.

With new construction or remodeling, you have the perfect opportunity to create a new pharmacy workflow design that makes many improvements by comparison to your existing workflow. Your careful planning means that you'll be in compliance with 2013's more rigid HIPAA regulations. It also means you'll increase efficiency and accuracy on the job -- and become more profitable -- without having to neglect your patients and customers.

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Topics: pharmacy workflow

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