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It is an environment typical to many community pharmacies: a medical centre immediately adjacent to a community pharmacy. Like all medical centres, there are sometimes long delays of more than an hour, while the wait for a prescription to be filled in my pharmacy can be 10 or at most 15 minutes.
Would you be surprised if local consumer research found patients were willing to wait an hour for a doctor but won’t wait five minutes for a pharmacist to dispense medications? Indeed, if a pharmacy patient sees a ‘long’ queue, some will choose to walk out despite having waited 60+ minutes for the doctor next door. Asking your patients what they want and expect from your pharmacy will lead to you serving loyal, happy patients.
Enter the robot
The journey our pharmacy took to implement robotic dispensing technology began with local consumer research indicating patients were not willing to wait the same time period for two health professionals. To meet patient needs, our pharmacy had to cut down waiting times at the dispensary.
One option was to add more staff hours and thereby improve service levels. But we went with the dispensing robot because it reduced wait times and the pharmacist had more direct contact time with patients. Patients were more willing to engage in conversation with the pharmacist while they were dispensing out front.
There were change management issues for staff and patients but the result was shorter waiting periods with better patient understanding.
Time to care
My pharmacy’s role in the delivery of healthcare is enhanced by automated dispensing because no health professional – GP or pharmacist – can do their job well unless they have quality time with the patient. More time for follow-up questions and a real dialogue leads to identification of significant health issues.
Surveying your customers and creating focus groups where patients can express their true feelings on your business has always been, and remains, an invaluable business tool. The key is to ask the right questions or facilitate a free-flowing discussion.
LOCAL DATA AND ANALYSIS
Recently at APP I reviewed a new analysis and planning tool from Pfizer – My Community Health, which helps pharmacists follow a two-step process to understand their community:
1. Spend time with your patients
2. Discover their needs
My Community Health, part of a suite of new support tools that Pfizer is bringing to community pharmacy this year, provides data about your area and shows how your pharmacy can meet the needs of your community.
- Bespoke Health Services
- Setting Expectations
- Value-Added Health Services
- Holistic Health Awareness and Adherence
- Your Local Community Healthcare Needs
- Health Services and Value in Pharmacy
- Communicating With Your Customers
- Understanding Yourself and Your Customers
- Embedding Change
- Actioning Change
- Preparation for Change
- The Need To Change