Shouldn’t This be Easier? Identifying Ineffective Pharmacy Workflows

For a long time, I disdained the pressure cooker hype. To me, it seemed like one extra, and very large, piece of equipment to take up space in my kitchen. But when my trusty slow cooker bit the dust I decided to buy one of those all in one do everything instant pots. I was still pretty sure I’d never use the pressure cooker function. I’d never cooked that way and didn’t see a reason to start.

But eventually, a lack of planning and absence of time had me giving something new a try. And as a result, discovering I’d been wasting a lot of time and energy because I hadn’t recognized the inefficiency in the way I was doing certain things.Shouldn't his be easier?RMSPOS

My point here is that doing something the long way doesn’t mean it’s better. Seems obvious, but sometimes we get so mired down in the way we do things that we don’t stop to ask ourselves an important question. Shouldn’t this be easier?

If you’re looking at some of the workflows in your pharmacy, and you start to ask yourself this question, you’re likely going to find yourself saying “yes” at least a few times. And maybe lot more. But at the same time, you may wonder whether it’s worth it to invest the time, effort or money into changing workflows around. Here are some helpful qualifications to get you on the right track.

How often? The frequency of a task is a good indicator of whether you need to evaluate improvements more closely.  Is it something you do daily? Every couple of hours? Every 5 minutes? Those tasks and workflows that make up the biggest portion of your day are likely the places where inefficiencies will have the greatest impact.

How long? Do you feel like any of your pharmacy workflows take longer than they should? Even if you’re shaving a few seconds off here and there, those seconds can really add up.  

How many steps? Are there tasks that you regularly tackle that just seem to involve too many steps? Click here and then there and then confirm. Are all those steps really necessary or is it perhaps poor design? Look for places that offer opportunity to minimize the number of actions a given task or workflow requires.  

How intuitive? Does it make sense? Or does it seem overly complicated? And if so, does it really have to be this way? You want processes that are intuitive so that you don’t have to waste time playing guessing games or constantly referring to checklists.  

How many errors?  Effective workflows should make it easy to reduce or eliminate errors. If you see a large number of errors in any area of your pharmacy, or don’t have checks and balances for preventing errors, you’ve definitely found a place where some change will do you good.

When you’re all done with this closer look, you may very well find yourself with a list of things that you’d not only like to improve, but that you’ve proven to yourself need to be improved.  This is a great list to talk through with existing technology partners or with potential new ones. Especially your pharmacy point-of-sale providers. After all, pharmacy POS should exist to make your life easier. If yours doesn’t, it’s time to find a way to change that.