The importance of having an efficient pharmacy workflow cannot be overstated and, although yours may be a long-established drug dispensing business in operation for years, it's improbable that there aren't improvements that could be made to increase both the efficiency and accuracy of your back-end processes.
Pharmacy workflow can be described as the entire process of filling a drug prescription—from the moment it's received at the pharmacy intake area, by telephone, online or in person, until the time that it's put into the hands of the awaiting customer.
Going With The Flow
A functioning, efficient workflow is the most fundamentally important part of your pharmacy's drug dispensing routine and everyone working in the back-end section of your store needs to know their specific job and how best to accomplish it. There are basically six steps involved in a prescription fill, and depending on the size of your pharmacy and the number of prescriptions being filled on a regular basis, cross-training may be an important part of the system so that technicians can be rotated into different slots as required. As owner or manager, if you haven't taken a step back and had a look at your general pharmacy workflow, it might be a good idea to do so and to get your technicians to do the same.
The first step in your pharmacy workflow system is the drop off (or intake) area, which is usually manned by a technician. Some pharmacists have begun revisiting this important function and decided that they, instead, should be positioned here in order to meet and greet clients face-to-face and be the first to view the incoming prescription information. This provides a more personalized service from a customer perspective and also gives the pharmacist the opportunity to uncover any inaccuracies in the paperwork.
The next step, input, is one of the most critical because this is the step where mistakes are most often made. Prescriptions are read and interpreted here and then entered into the system via computer. If the location of your drop-off and input areas are the same, it's important that this counter be large enough to accommodate two people and the customer, who will need space to put down packages or purses in order to access their prescriptions, identification and insurance documents. There should also be one or two computer terminals and telephones here, plus a scanner if documents are scanned into the system during your particular process.
Each of the following steps need to have their own dedicated areas in which the technician or pharmacist will be able to complete their jobs without unnecessary interruptions or distractions. Step 3, filling, requires access to commonly used filling supplies and the most popularly required medicines. This area should be set up ergonomically, minimizing bending, stretching and footsteps taken by as much as possible. Following the filling step comes:
4. Verification: Done by the pharmacist to ensure everything has been done properly during this fill
5. Customer Pickup: In an area with a counter large enough for a cash register and for clients to place other purchases they may have
6. Patient Consultation (if called for): In a private location to adhere to legal requirements for maintaining patient privacy
Shooting For Maximum Efficiency
Few pharmacies have a workflow system in place that can't be improved in some ways when properly studied. An efficient workflow is important for displaying store professionalism, proficiency and good service. Customers should receive accurate prescription fills as quickly as possible for maximum service satisfaction.