What it Takes to Succeed at Running a Pharmacy

Posted by Robert Walthall on Sat, Aug, 29, 2015 @ 08:00 AM

shutterstock_87213748As an independent pharmacist, what comes to mind when you think about succeeding at running your pharmacy? Keeping your customers happy is probably first on the list. Fortunately, the personalized service you offer already puts you ahead of much of your competition. A better pharmacy workflow can make you even more competitive and successful.

So how can improved pharmacy workflow help you succeed?

It can minimize distractions

When you're filling prescriptions, the risk of medication errors increases nearly 13% with every interruption and goes up markedly every time you're interrupted during the same prescription fill. The key, of course, is to minimize and even eliminate those distractions. That's where pharmacy workflow improvements can help. Here are some tips on how to improve pharmacy workflow with prescription fills:

  • Organize your workspace for efficiency, comfort, and convenience. Establish proper counter heights and provide adequate counterspace as necessary. The workspace should be set up so that medications, labels, and equipment are close at hand. "Traffic flow" in the workspace should be set up so that employees need to take as few steps as possible, and so that there will be no "bottlenecks" or other tie-ups.

  • Create a routine. Enter, fill, and check your prescriptions in precisely the same order and way every time. Make sure you put labels on patients' prescription bottles before you move onto the next prescription to avoid mixups.

  • Use technology. Using automatic refill technology whenever possible will reduce errors and further improve efficiency.

  • Fill prescriptions in private. If at all possible, fill prescriptions out of sight of customers. Task employees with answering the phone or taking care of customer needs.

  • Let technicians fill prescriptions. If you let technicians fill prescriptions in private, you can focus on providing stellar customer service and other tasks.

  • Check and double check prescriptions once  they have been filled to further reduce errors. Don't let anyone "self-check." Instead, have another qualified person check for accuracy.

  • Stay up-to-date on medication information. Pharmacy workflow slows down if you have to consult references often to determine whether a particular medication is appropriate for a given condition, for example. This can also lead to distractions and, again, to medication errors.

It incorporates pharmacy shelving and fixtures with security features

The changes to HIPAA regulations that occurred in 2013 and the risk of controlled substances theft require your pharmacy to have security and privacy equipment and protocols built into your workflow.

  • HIPAA regulations — The 2013 changes to HIPAA strengthened patient privacy rules; now it is even more imperative that you protect patients' PHI from unauthorized access. Make sure to lock away any devices that are used to access or store patient health information when not in use, including portable devices like laptops and tablets. Establish protocols for workstation use, which should now be centrally located, and implement secure authentication and login procedures.

  • Risk of theft — Controlled substances like Vicodin are always at risk of being stolen. This presents a risk to not only your profits, but also to your safety and the safety of your employees and customers. Lock controlled substances securely away at all times. Having to unlock, retrieve medication, and relock cabinets and other fixtures may somewhat impede pharmacy workflow, but it's absolutely essential that you do so. You can make up any minor inefficiencies here with improved workflow elsewhere.

Remember that you don't have to neglect your customers – or your professionalism – if you take the time to establish efficient pharmacy workflows. Accuracy, efficiency, and good customer service will be the result, which improves profits and reduces stress. Your customers will be happy and taken care of as a result -- and so will you.

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Topics: pharmacy workflow

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