Workflow: every pharmacy has one whether they know it or not. It’s the path that a prescription travels as it moves through your pharmacy. If you’re aware of your workflow, you know that in a fast-paced pharmacy environment, workflow organization is important to providing good customer service.
In a typical pharmacy workflow there are four or five stations: input, fill, tech check, pharmacist check, and check out. Not all pharmacies utilize all stations, and some pharmacies require more than one of each station. It depends on the pharmacy’s prescription volume and setup.
No matter how many workflow stations you utilize, it should be easy for a staff member to locate a prescription at any point in the dispensing process. This is where good organization becomes important, and the best way to virtually organize your workflow is by using will-call bins.
Standard Will-Call Bin Management
Many pharmacy software systems come equipped with the ability to place a prescription in a will-call bin not only when it is waiting to be picked up, but as it moves through the workflow.
Before the prescription is placed in a physical bin, you should be able to indicate its movement through your workflow in your pharmacy software. These bins coordinate with the workflow stations discussed earlier. If a patient shows up and the prescription isn’t ready yet, this helps identify the whereabouts of a prescription. The clerk can quickly look it up and see that it’s waiting for the pharmacist to verify or it’s still at the fill station. If this happens, the clerk can notify them that the patient is in the pharmacy waiting and a rush can be placed on that prescription.
After the prescription is filled and checked, it is then placed in a physical will-call bin or bag. There are different setups that you can choose from when installing your will-call bin area. Many pharmacies choose to organize their will-call bins numerically. However, others choose to use an alphabetical system.
- Numerical: This is more commonly seen when using a bag system. The prescription is scanned using the barcode label on the bag. This assigns the prescription a number, making it easy to find in your bin area when the patient shows up to pick up the medication.
- Alphabetical: Usually based on the patient’s last name, and filed until ready for pick up. This works for both a bin and a bag set up.
Internal Bin Management
To further organize your workflow, your pharmacy software should allow for customization of your internal bins. These are used for circumstances that stop the progression of the prescription during the dispensing process, ensuring that you don’t dispense a prescription that has issues.
Customizable bins can be created and used for whatever situation arises and in many cases can replace notes that would normally be left on a prescription or physical notes that may get lost as they move through your workflow. Many pharmacies using internal bins create bins to indicate if the patient needs to be counseled or if the prescription requires a prior authorization. This is important information that needs to be addressed before the prescription moves forward in the workflow.
Some other examples of internal bins include:
- Waiting on Order- This bin is commonly put on a prescription whn they do not have any of the medication to dispense and must now order from the wholesaler. This is most commonly seen on a prescription that has been input then placed on hold.
- Need Patient ID – This bin is commonly put on a control medication when the patient’s ID has not been recorded before input. The prescription is usually input and placed on a shelf (not the will call bin). The bin is placed after so the pharmacist and clerk are aware that the medication is not in the will call system and that information must be recorded before it can be dispensed to the patient.
- Patient Info update needed – This is used when the patient is a long-time customer and a full review of their address, home and cell phone, and any new allergies is needed to provide the technicians and pharmacist with updated information.
Ideally, once the special circumstance that warranted the internal bin has been resolved, the prescription is then returned to a standard bin and moved forward in the dispensing process.
Will-call bins are an excellent tool to identify which of your pharmacy staff have worked on a prescription, which needs to review the prescription before it’s checked out, and what steps need to be taken to ensure accurate dispensing. Using this tool is the best way to ensure that your workflow is organized and that your pharmacy is providing the most convenient and streamlined experience to your customers.