Written by 12:21 pm Pharmacy Operations

Retail Pharmacy Workflow Basics


The filling step in the workflow is where the prescription medication is selected, and if needed counted/poured/labeled.   Fundamental to an effective filling station is sufficient counter space to manage the typical volume of prescription bottles and/or boxes that an order may include.  Some pharmacies use bags, others use baskets, to organize a single patient’s order while it is being prepared.  Bags and baskets take room.  Counting trays take up room.  Access to multiple counting trays for counting highly allergenic substances like penicillin or sulfa drugs is important.

In my opinion the best workflows have designated pods or islands for handling the filling function.  When your filling area is part of a long counter which is also part of your inputting and verifying area, you tend to have more opportunities for errors and confusion.

Very few pharmacies that I have seen have gotten the filling station right.  A properly equipped filling station needs quick and convenient access to all the ordinary filling supplies (bottles, caps, bags, etc.) as well as access to the fastest moving (top 15-20) drugs (sometimes called the “speed shelf”).  I’ve worked in silly pharmacies that had a section of over 100 “fast movers.”  It was crazy, as that section took up 25% of the pharmacy, virtually defeating the purpose.  It’s much smarter, I believe, to limit those fast movers and put them on an easily accessible end cap.

Last modified: April 17, 2023

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