How To Set Up A Mail-Order Pharmacy To Meet Increased Demands During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Keeping On Top Of The Boom
The COVID-19 pandemic has put an unprecedented demand on many industries, but pharmacies in particular have been uniquely—and heavily—impacted by the surge in online shopping. For any number of reasons, minimizing the risk of transmission obviously being one, people are opting for home delivery for their medication or other RX-related items. This change in preference has led to a huge increase in demand for mail-order pharmacies, where fulfillment needs to not only be accurate, but timely. How do pharmacies keep on top of this change to ensure that their patients’ needs are met in a timely and accurate manner while maintaining profitability? By equipping their facilities with the right furniture in a way that promotes lean processes.
Promoting Lean Processes In Pharmacies
Pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, and dispensing assistants must all communicate and coordinate in such a way that the process from creating or receiving an order is streamlined all the way through packing and shipping it. Designing and planning a space for maximum efficiency is vital to the success of efficiently handling high volumes of orders, for both small- and large-scale pharmacies. A lean workflow can be created by having designated stations oriented to each other to promote a smooth flow from one stage to the next of the process.
The first step of the workflow is sorting the prescriptions by priority. Having color-coded baskets various levels of urgency and special cases that may require things such as contacting health insurance will help keep prescriptions moving at their necessary respective rates. A simple cornerstone workbench with storage bins would be perfect for this.
The second step is the actual filling station. This station should have counting trays, vials, lids, handouts with important information for patients concerning their medication, a trash collector that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and color-coded bags to help pharmacists with prioritization. A concept workbench with strategically placed shelves and bins with a nearby bin carts to help transport prescriptions to the verification, packing, and shipping station would excel in this role. One of the principles of the lean process is reducing unnecessary movement; thus, the proximity of the pharmacist’s filling station to the packing and shipping station is key.
Once prescriptions are ready to be verified, packed, and shipped, they can be moved to the final workstation. Verifying, packing, and prepping for shipment is a repetitive task wherein any minor process improvements quickly add up. While packing and shipping have had their own respective workspaces in the past, operations are finding that integrating them into one station has helped them meet the ever-growing need for faster speeds and increased productivity. A combined packing and shipping station will include a concept workbench outfitted with shelves stocked with boxes and envelopes, tape dispensers, rolls of void fill or void fill machines, cutting units, rolls of labels, a computer station, scanner, scale, and printer.
Mail-order pharmacies face a unique struggle because they fulfill two functions, and they have to do them both well. They must not only perform the role of a pharmacy, which requires accuracy and speed, but also that of a packing and shipping facility, which requires efficiency. By implementing lean processes into the operation’s design and layout, accuracy can be increased, waste minimized, and efficiency improved. Altogether, these result in better fulfillment rates and higher profits.
Treston has partnered with large and small pharmacies, online and off, to help them succeed no matter their needs. With each step of the process, we’ve been able to help increase efficiency and reduce waste to help pharmacies fulfill more prescriptions and turn higher profits.
Treston Can Help
At their core, all types of pharmacies dealing with online ordering have to navigate the same processes in order to fulfill an order. Community pharmacies, clinical pharmacies, online pharmacies, hospital pharmacies, and others must all figure out ways to quickly and accurately fulfill and ship prescriptions to meet the needs of their patients during the pandemic. We are committed to helping pharmacies succeed during this unprecedented time. Whether you manage a pharmacy that is already operating online or are trying to redesign your current space to accommodate for an online-oriented workflow, we can help. Contact us today to speak with a specialist about designing the optimal mail-order pharmacy to meet you and your patients’ needs.