In today’s competitive environment, running an efficient independent pharmacy means lower costs, higher margins and less stress for all parties involved. Creating efficiency in your pharmacy is a combination of concentrated effort and strategic planning. Where can you find opportunities to become more efficient? Everywhere! Functional areas such as; team training, inventory management and operations planning all represent key opportunities for improved efficiency.
Analyzing where your pharmacy ranks against industry benchmarks is one of the first steps you should take in exploring areas of opportunity for added productivity in your pharmacy. Understanding what your competitors are doing to succeed in the market will give you ideas and provide metrics that will help you track your progress as you begin to implementing new procedures.
Once you have an idea about what your competition is up to, take an inventory of your own operations to see where you lag behind and what areas you can improve upon. Here are the key focus areas to improve efficiency:
1. Team Productivity
Having a productive staff means lower refill time and faster order fulfillment. If your employees are slow in fulfilling orders, take a look at schedules to see if there needs to be adjustments made. You may decide to hire an additional technician in order to give your pharmacist breathing room and avoid burnout. After evaluating your team’s productivity, you may also find that some of your staff isn’t well-trained and they don’t yet understand the process. In this case, evaluate each team member’s performance and determine what skills need to be polished and what areas of the business operations require a more experienced team member. Invest in training, so every employee has all the knowledge they need to successfully perform their job.
2. Medication Purchasing
Prescription medications are often one of the most expensive items your pharmacy has to float. Taking advantage of savings from Group Purchasing Organizations is a great way increase buying efficiency. Even efficient pharmacies often generate substantial savings from optimizing their purchasing habits. Here are some strategies that will help you streamline medication purchasing:
- Use longer-term buying to take advantage of lower-cost contracts
- Secure immediate access to newly released generic medications
- Utilize tiered discount programs and target key incentive levels
- Analyze back order reports and obtain credits for undelivered items
3. Inventory Control Optimization
Improved efficiencies can be found by reducing the time spent managing inventory by controlling and reducing costs, and limiting touch points. The following best practices will improve your inventory process:
- Create a baseline inventory
- Develop minimum and maximum reorder points on prescription medications
- Train buyers on inventory controls like updating min/max levels to avoid stock delays
- Obtain all credits from returned excess products
- Create advanced inventory control system that adjusts drug levels based on patient demand
4. Embrace Automation
Taking advantage of an automated dispensing system has the potential to improve pharmacy efficiency and inventory control, while enhancing patient safety. A system like this can reduce that time that is spent on managing out of stock medications, and allows you to redeploy pharmacy technicians that would otherwise have to refill scripts.
In today’s competitive environment you need to find productivity improvements in all aspects of your pharmacy. Staffing, purchasing, inventory control and automation are the key areas where you can find ways to improve.