Pharmacists today face a dilemma. On the one hand they are facing increased economic pressures due to changes in the regulatory environment; but on the other hand, their workloads are generally the same or increasing, and their customers more demanding.
In this environment, it’s more important than ever that your systems and processes are running efficiently – in terms of time and money spent, while maintaining the same quality standards of patient care.
Focus on value add
As a customer-oriented business where the provision of expert advice is a key factor, the pharmacist and key staff are the primary resources. One of the first considerations then is to look at how these individuals’ time should be allocated to the best use.
For example is your pharmacist confined to the dispensary area for much of the day instead of consulting with customers? Are your senior staff spending too much time on ‘low value’ activities where they are not using their skills and/or handling enquiries?
Another way to look at allocating value is to apply the lean principle to your pharmacy. ‘Lean’ simply means creating more value for customers with fewer resources – optimising the flow of services through different parts of your business and via your computer systems to customers.
Start with identifying all the steps in your value service stream and where possible remove those steps that do not create value. For example, eliminate any double handling and waste, and watch out for areas where information might be overlooked. You also want to be able to recognise any new areas of value add that could be potential new income opportunities.
‘Lean’ simply means creating more value for customers with fewer resources
Getting staff on board
Employees are often the best source for new ideas so ask them for their suggestions and feedback. Are they perhaps encountering small issues on a day-to-day basis that they haven’t told you about, or are there areas where they see opportunities for improvement?
It may also be worthwhile to review your management style. The traditional hierarchal type of organisation is giving way to flatter structures today – across all types of businesses. People tend to be more engaged and productive when they have the autonomy to carry out their responsibilities.
Take a closer look at your workflows and systems to find areas of improvement. The right technology and processes can make a big difference in improving the efficiency and productivity of your pharmacy business.
Do your staff have convenient access to what they need to do their jobs and be away from distractions? Is your inventory being managed effectively? Too much stock ties up shelf space and your working capital, while running out of stock can lead to lost sales.