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THE TOPICS

Case Study: Been There, Achieved That
Dr Alison Roberts
Find inspiration: inside the pharmacies that have taken action.

Find inspiration: inside the pharmacies that have taken action.

A case in point was the example of one pharmacy in the trial that was a banner-aligned suburban, shopping centre pharmacy that had six FTE staff and one FTE pharmacist, dispensing 1,100 prescriptions/week. The pharmacy aimed to increase front-of-shop activity and delivery of professional services to build its health image and to take individual learnings from the trial into future working roles.

With an eye on the future, this pharmacy worked with the PSA coach to articulate a clear vision, make changes to roles and responsibilities to improve workflow and consumer engagement, and to implement targeted staff training. The team set goals and KPIs for professional programs, and an additional pharmacist was employed to assist in delivery.

Working with the PSA coach, the pharmacy agreed on the broad objectives to pursue, which included improving workflow and task delegation, planning and executing health promotion activities, implementing the MedsCheck program, and formalising communications and relationships with local health professionals.

Over the course of the trial, this pharmacy's team gained a huge amount of professional satisfaction from the changes made to the way they worked. Increased collaboration and a focus on health promotion improved the image of the pharmacy as a destination for health, and provided the opportunity to deepen relationships with other health providers. With just one FTE pharmacist, this pharmacy was heavily reliant on transfer of information to consumers through front-of-shop staff instead of pharmacists having direct contact. Although this was not satisfactory to the owner, previous attempts to increase consumer engagement by having an additional pharmacist more available in the front-of-shop had been unsuccessful, and this presented a major barrier to making changes to staffing mix. Within the existing staff, one pharmacist did not naturally gravitate toward 'forward pharmacy' style of practice.

Actioning change

The PSA coach facilitated the development of a succinct strategic vision statement, to help align new staff members with the pharmacy's philosophy, and ensure the whole team was working towards the same goals. This also meant making some changes to roles and responsibilities to improve workflow and consumer engagement, and implementing a structured learning plan for staff training – tailored to the selected target health areas. Assistance was provided on better utilisation of dispensing and service recording software to improve efficiency and free up pharmacists for other services.

Over the course of the trial this pharmacy was able to achieve an 18% increase in consumer engagement during a prescription lifecycle and consumers were positive with one remarking: "I have changed pharmacies as I feel more welcome here and comfortable".

Another example was a pharmacy that appeared to have little reason for participating in the trial as recent changes included a 'forward pharmacy' design and investment in robotic dispensing. In addition, the pharmacy also had a high number of pharmacists on staff relative to its prescription volume. The team in this pharmacy realised that they had all the right elements in place to position themselves as a health destination, but that their processes and procedures were letting them down.

Working with the PSA coach, this pharmacy made significant changes to its systems and processes, better defining roles and responsibilities to improve workflow and efficiency.

Through the local area analysis, it identified areas of focus for health promotion activities. Professional programs such as Clinical Interventions were implemented and given extra focus, with the team setting goals and KPIs, and working together as a team to increase engagement with consumers.

At the end of the trial, this pharmacy had improved its process efficiency for dispensing, freeing up the pharmacist for increased consumer engagement and delivery of professional services. Overall, the pharmacy team felt they were working much more efficiently and effectively. All staff gained a better understanding that professional services, health promotion and provision of health products are interlinked, and what activities drive success. For example, increasing pharmacist contact with the consumer often results in identifying opportunities to provide better service to patients.

The pharmacy team found that by focusing on the roles and processes within the pharmacy, they were able to increase the level of consumer engagement by the pharmacists, as well as better coordinating all its activities. Evidence of this was when a 'mystery shopper' visited towards the end of the trial, which the pharmacy passed "with flying colours". The owner felt this was due to the new team approach to education and health promotion activities.

Changes made to staff tasks and roles increased workflow efficiencies through review of staff roles, strict time allocation for tasks and ongoing reminder systems for change, resulting in an increase in the number of prescription items processed per FTE per day.

An important measure of consumer contact, the retention score, improved by 21% over the course of the trial.

Engaging staff through staff meetings gave them confidence to change and 'buy-in' to the health destination concept. Using shared goal setting and incentives has ensured ongoing motivation to change. They recognise the importance of ongoing review and feedback to maintain motivation. They also recognised that assistance was needed from the coach to educate pharmacists and facilitate changes in behaviour – a message sometimes best received from a third party.