Pharmacy Workflow: Know Your Role

Alexis Selzler About The Author

Oct 21, 2015 3:18:00 PM

Clerk and pharmacist in pharmacy workflowAs a pharmacist you’re well aware of the chaotic nature of your business. Inputting prescriptions, counting medications, checking prescriptions, calling insurance, packaging medications, printing labels, and all of this is punctuated by answering phones, checking out customers, counseling patients and running a business.

You can bring some order to your chaotic pharmacy by establishing a clear workflow.

A basic pharmacy workflow has four stations: input technician, fill technician, pharmacist verification and clerk. Depending on your pharmacy’s needs, you may want to add additional workflow stations such as insurance problem solving or will-call bin management.

Here’s some information on what takes place at each workflow station:

Input Technician 

The input tech is a customer-facing position. At this position the technician will take new prescriptions and input all new customer and billing information, including third party insurance claims. The tech will also be responsible for receiving incoming refill medications by drop off, over the phone or electronic methods.

Fill Technician

This technician is responsible for filling all the prescriptions entered into the pharmacy software and ensuring that insurance is billed correctly. Depending on the setup of your pharmacy, the label may be printed at this station or held in a label print queue. The technician at this station can also verify the medication came from the correct inventory container and was placed in the right prescription bottle by scanning the NDC bar code before passing to the pharmacist.

Pharmacist Verification

At this station the pharmacist verifies all medications processed by the fill technician. The pharmacist performs a verification of correct medication, clinical review and financial review of the prescription before passing it to the clerk. The pharmacist may be pulled from this station to perform counseling required for medications or other pharmacist intervention opportunities.

Clerk

The clerk is stationed at the POS. They are responsible for bagging and assigning prescriptions to a numbered hanging bag or bin and filing the bag based on the number. They engage patients and check out medications and over the counter items. This is a critical member of your pharmacy team. They can make a lasting impression with your customer.  They may also collect missing or incomplete information and even provide helpful information to the customer on nutrition depletion remedies.

Benefits of Assigning Roles for your Workflow

You may already have some or all of these stations in place in your pharmacy but are still experiencing the chaos on a busy day. The trick to a successful pharmacy workflow is ensuring that everyone knows their role and stays committed to the process. You can begin each day by making sure that each member of your staff knows where they’ll be stationed. This can be achieved in the morning meeting, by creating a chart or adding it to the schedule.

Here are three benefits to assigning roles for your workflow:

  1. When assigned a specific role an employee can take ownership of their assigned station. This eliminates any switching or crossover that may normally happen on a busy day. The employee at the input station can stay at the input station, instead of leaving to help count because another employee left to work the checkout. It’s the switching and changing stations that can make a busy day chaotic and leads to mistakes that could be dangerous.
  2. It’s easy to know who did what when your employees are at specific stations each day. If a mistake is made or something is off, you can easily get to the bottom of it by checking who was on what station that day and reviewing the employee-change log in the software. Also, this helps stop one employee from working under another employee’s log-in credentials.
  3. Depending on the size of your staff you may set up rotations for various positions based off each staff member’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes. This is a good way to make sure you’re utilizing your staff to their fullest. If you know that a certain staff member is good at problem solving, you’re going to want to put them on insurance claims most of the time. However, you’ll want to rotate them out, so they don’t get burnt out from doing the same thing every day. A challenged and happy employee is a more productive employee.

Every pharmacy is different so it may take some time to find what works best for your team, but understanding the roles required is the first step in developing a successful pharmacy workflow.