5 ways to improve your pharmacy efficiency and workflow

Filling prescriptions in an efficient, timely manner is vital to both serving your patients and lowering the operating costs of running your pharmacy. But pharmacy efficiency is becoming even more important as industry-wide issues ie quality ratings and healthcare reform, continue to put pressure on pharmacy As prescription dispensing volumes increase, you need to gain efficiencies and lower your cost of dispensing in order to maintain patient safety and satisfaction.

1. Measure your workflow

Unless you have set up a way to monitor your process workflow, you will never know if you are making progress or not. A first step is to lidentify what your basic requirements are and what you need to measure. In pharmacy, we want to measure accuracy but we also should be looking at productivity. Once a basic metric is in place, then you want to hold staff accountable. Metrics hep your staff based on facts and eliminates making decisions based on a whim or personal bias.

2. Stock holding

Having too much or too little stock is a problem. Too much stock ties up working capital and valuable shelf space, while too little can result in owings, customer complaints, and lost patients Identify your fastest-moving items and consider checking the reorder points regularly. Generally, less safety stock is needed for high-volume items that are being ordered frequently. Slower-moving items can be checked less frequently, but there should be more safety stock on hand. It is a good idea to review stock levels regularly to allow for seasonal trends as well as growth. Controlling the repeat prescription will help you with your stock holding.

3. Motion

Think small. Do you know how many steps your pharmacists and technicians walk each day in your pharmacy? Consider mapping the travel of a technician filling a script. Does he/she have to leave their workstation to complete the order? Does the pharmacist/technician have all of the necessary tools in the workstation to complete the task? Just because you have space doesn’t mean that you need to use it all and spread the work around. To improve operational efficiency try moving the work closer to the worker. By bringing the work closer to the worker you can eliminate wasteful travel time and improve productivity, while also improving employee satisfaction.

4. Automate

Many outstanding technologies have been designed to aid pharmacists and technicians in the prescription-filling process. Depending on your goals, automation can be used to free up pharmacist time for other patient care activities, to reduce service costs or to maintain service costs without adding extra staff.

5. Listen to what your staff say

Your staff can be the best source for new ideas and suggestions. Invite pharmacy staff members to step back and observe all of your pharmacy’s key processes. Do they see bottlenecks, unnecessary travel, or issues causing delays in the process? Opportunities for improvement? Have them record their observations and report their findings to the team. Have staff brainstorm ideas on how to reduce steps, eliminate bottlenecks and improve the order flow.