Retail Pharmacy Workflow Basics

July 17, 2014 • Pharmacy Operations • Views: 91619


Pickup is almost the last step in the workflow process.  This is where patients come to obtain their prescription order and pay for it.  This area will have the cash register and bagging supplies and sufficient counter space for other purchases.  This area also needs to be clearly marked with a hanging sign.  Ideally it should be obvious where the line should form and where the next person in line should wait.


The pickup station is also where the prepared prescription orders are organized.  Most systems utilize a simple alphabetical structure, filing patients by last name.  But I’ve seen some rather creative systems too, like ones that organize patient orders into numbered bags which are filed by the day they were filled on.  It can get a bit ridiculous.  Trust me, stick with alphabetical.

The pickup station needs to allow the cashier to check important patient identifying information, though this is generally handled by the software.

Important, in my opinion, is that the pickup area be sufficiently distanced from the drop off area.  Sometimes customers at pickup remember that they want another prescription.  The best practice is to either complete their purchase and then send them over to “drop off” or cancel their purchase and send them to drop off.  But if the patient can stand right there and place another order it tends to disrupt the continuity of the pickup process for others.

Finally, the pickup area needs to have sufficient room to store all the supplies needed here as well including variously sized bags, register receipt tape, staplers, pens, etc.


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Author: Jason Poquette

5 Responses to Retail Pharmacy Workflow Basics

  1. Vagabond says:

    Scan the Rx? What magic is this? Paper,paper,paper here.

  2. Gary Morrow, RPh says:

    Please eliminate a seemingly universal mistake at the drop-off station of workflow. I hear it all the time as a floater pharmacist and as a customer. I refer to the question “Have you been here before?”, or worse “Are you in our system?” or some variation of these. What are the possible answers to this question? A) “Yes I have.” The technician then looks in the computer for the patient info. Or option B) “No”, or “I don’t know”. The technician then looks in the computer. One day some smart-ass is going to sound off with option C): “You have the computer; why don’t you look it up and tell me!” Do you get it? Either way, the input station starts with accessing patient information. So skip those kinds of questions. They make you sound lazy. Besides, that is not the way to welcome the patient/client/guest to your pharmacy. People like to hear their names, so say it aloud as a form of greeting. It is the first step toward building goodwill and putting your customers at ease.

  3. jasonpoquette says:

    Hi Gary,
    You make a great point. Questions that don’t need to be asked are a waste of time and could be replaced by important questions for sure. The key to efficiency is to eliminate waste. This is definitely going to be included in my next article on Workflow 201 – Efficiency!

  4. Keish Hale,CPh.T says:

    I remember when I was working at Wal-Mart I worked the drop off window and enjoyed it. It takes precision to run the drop off effectively. Firstly, you have to make sure that you provide customer service because our customers are our bread and butter and we need to make sure that we treat each customer the way that we would like to be treated. Secondly, you must follow the 5 Rights to make sure accuracy is on point. The Tech has to be able to multi-task while at the drop off.

  5. Tom Hanson says:

    You forgot another workstation area, the drive-thru window. This adds so many more headaches and problems to the workflow you would not believe it. It also would requires your minimum staffing levels in a pharmacy to be 5 people and not 4.

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