3 Tips to Improve Your Retail Pharmacy Workflow
What is Pharmacy Workflow?
Pharmacy workflow is the sequence of steps, from start to finish, required to complete a task, like filling a prescription for a customer. Well-organized and well-designed workflows increase productivity while ensuring high-quality care and customer service to people coming into your retail pharmacy for their prescriptions.
Too often, retail pharmacies are understaffed and too busy to introduce other services, like vaccine clinics and medication therapy management. Increasing productivity by improving pharmacy workflow can allow pharmacies to introduce different ways to serve the patients in their community.
If you’re wondering how to improve pharmacy workflow, here are three tips that can help.
Evaluate How Things Get Done
Before you can optimize workflow, you must evaluate how things currently get done. Write down the steps from when a doctor calls in a prescription to when the customer picks it up. How many are there? How many people does it take? Are there any bottlenecks?
Look at the physical flow of the task. Does the tech need to walk from one side of the pharmacy to the other? Is anyone standing around waiting? How long do customers have to wait?
After you figure out what areas need improvement, set measurable goals; for example, you can aim to have every prescription filled within 20 minutes of the doctor calling in the prescription. Analyze the process and see if you can make any noticeable improvements.
Having an organized physical environment reduces confusion and errors. Something as simple as organizing steps in filling a prescription from left to right or using color-coded baskets and labels can help keep things moving smoothly and accurately. Even moving the pharmacist closer to various touchpoints can increase productivity.
Map out staff members, what they need to do their jobs, and where those things are located. Do technicians need to walk across the room to get the tools they need to do their jobs? Are there enough computer stations, and are they in the right place? What small changes can you make to the environment to ensure everyone can work as efficiently as possible?
Make sure every employee knows what they are responsible for on every shift. Someone in charge of answering the phone or following up with insurers shouldn’t also have to worry about labeling bottles and waiting on customers. Cross-train technicians so that they can step up and fill in other roles when needed, but make sure everyone has a defined role for each shift.
Pharmacists should also have time to do clinical work while on the job. When the pharmacy workflow runs smoothly, pharmacists should have time for medication therapy management and other opportunities to stay up to date on their clinical skills instead of just focusing on production.
It’s essential to honor employees’ time and show them respect. When productivity increases, staff scheduling may become less of an issue. Take advantage of this by giving employees three-day weekends or allowing them an extra day off during the week. Doing so increases employee satisfaction and retention, saving the cost of recruiting and training new employees and ensuring you have the best team possible.
Improving pharmacy workflow has many benefits. Customers are happier as wait times decrease and interactions with the pharmacist improve. Well-trained employees are clear on their roles and may experience the benefits of a more flexible schedule. Pharmacy workflow can go a long way to improving the bottom line and ensuring that retail employees have the best staff possible.