Retail Pharmacy Workflow Basics

July 17, 2014 • Pharmacy Operations • Views: 91620


The last key step in the pharmacy workflow is consultation.  This is the place where the patient goes to speak with the pharmacist about their medication if they have any questions.  This is, I would venture to guess, the most poorly designed step for most pharmacies.

The consultation area needs to be, in my opinion, distinct and separate  from the verifying area that the pharmacist stands at while checking prescriptions.  Failure to separate these areas can lead to an almost endless flow of interruptions while trying to carefully check prescription orders.  But the consultation area cannot be too far from the verifying area either, or the pharmacist will waste too much time running back and forth.


Ideally the consultation area needs to be equipped with enough technology for the pharmacist to quickly look up patient profiles if needed.  Sadly, many pharmacies seem to design their consultation areas almost reluctantly.  The consultation area is often inconvenient for the pharmacist to access and entirely unequipped for answering real questions.

A truly efficient and patient-centered pharmacy will give a lot of thought to the consultation step in the prescription workflow.  Here is where the pharmacist goes over new medications with patients and answers questions for other patients about all sorts of medication.  It is intended for a “quick review” and not a full and detailed discussion about every aspect of the patient’s prescriptions.  For more detailed discussions, pharmacies should also be equipped with a consultation ROOM or sitting area – but this isn’t fundamental to the actual workflow itself.


In conclusion….

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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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