Improving Profits and Service for Pharmacies
Pharmacies are a unique industry that requires specialised and trained staff who handle sensitive and hazardous material. Despite subsidies from the NHS, expensive pharmaceutical supplies can create a very thin profit margin. As a result, cutting operational and labour costs in ways that do not compromise the quality of work and service expected can be a very attractive prospect. Here are a few methods and areas where pharmacies can save on costs and improve their bottom line:
1. Labour Costs – Risk Assessment
With the recent news that pharmacies must complete risk assessment of employees to counter COVID-19, a big potential cost risk now looms for the pharmaceutical business.
On top of this, labour costs in general can be a big sink on your pharmacy’s resources, and introducing mandatory risk assessments will only put a strain on these expenses. Scheduling and organising payroll for hourly paid part-time dispensing assistants can be a new challenge, depending on training progress, for your business. However, in today’s market, there are many systems which ease this struggle, and allow your managers to save hours every week on important operations without sacrificing quality.
Bizimply simplifies workforce management for multisite hospitality and retail companies, optimising the entire people journey, with an all-in-one cloud-based solution. Employees can see their shifts and hours worked on their smartphones. Managers save hours creating and communicating schedules with simple drag-and-drop.
Most importantly, Bizimply offers onboarding checklists to customise and create standardised risk assessment procedures for individual employees. Read more here on how to create and use onboarding checklists in Bizimply.
2. Managing Wastage
Wastage can be a huge and expensive problem for pharmacies in the UK. Certain types of prescription may result in excess medical supplies going unused and abandoned, depending on demand.
Different types of wastage include:
Therapeutic loss – this arises when prescribed medicines are consumed in a manner that limits or completely negates their therapeutic effect. For example, exceeding the stated dose or failing to reach it can result in the customer / patient failing to receive any benefits from their intake they may instead return for more. sold at a loss plus it is not in the pharmacies best interests that patients administer the medicine incorrectly.
Material waste – on the flip side, this is medicine that has been only partially consumed, but the customer has already received full benefits from its use. With no apparent need to continue intake, the remaining material is subsequently disposed. Again, this is a sub-optimal application of prescribed medicine, as it could better be used for other customers/patients. The onus here is on pharmacies to administer the correct prescriptions and dosage, to ensure that customers only receive what they need.
Additionally, material waste can arise when NZ use has resulted in no perceived benefits, leaving the consumption of prescription unfinished. This can be hard to avoid, as opposed to total wastage where packs are left completely unconsumed. Better monitoring and analysis of patient health can help mitigate this issue.
Overall, there are several reasons for wastage occurring – such as habitual dispensing, patient recovery, non-adherence, incorrect disposal, stockpiling or unfortunately, patient death.
Consider implementing a waste management scheme to optimize your distribution or help understand it. Existing schemes in the UK have achieved savings in up to £184 per patient per annum, or saving 3.05 pounds for every £1 invested. Some schemes have the potential to save over 100 million per annum if scaled nationally. This is an incredible way of optimising and reducing your operational costs for pharmacies.
3. Adapting Prescriptions
A recent study found that it took nearly 7 minutes longer on average to complete an adapted prescription, compared to a regular prescription order. While it is a more intensive and investigative process, depending on how you pay your staff, this could result in excess labour costs from lost time.
When adapting a prescription, the study found that the procedure took the longest during the documentation and processing phases. These standout as as some of the biggest areas to improve your operations when optimising your pharmacy’s efficiency. Incidentally, it was also noticed at renewals talk the shortest time to complete, but also count as one of the most popular requests for dispensing staff.
Controlling both high-demand and intricate operations may require you to record the activities of your staff. With this information, you can analyse and find out where the most demand lies, plus where and how you can save time in a big way.
That said, it may not seem feasible at first to cut down on the time required for adapted prescriptions. However, for example having the appropriate documentation ready at hand and save your staff shuffling through drawers for the right paperwork.
4. Organising Inventory
Organising inventory can be a big task for pharmacies, however this can be done both for the front of house and in the stockroom.
One simple way of optimising your stock is by implementing a ‘planogram’ to visually depict how to best store your goods. This involves keeping everything of the same type in the same place. Read more on how to best sort goods out here. This lets dispensing assistants find prescriptions easier and inventory checks can be achieved in much less time. Here is an example of a graphic depicting a stockroom before and after reorganizing it into to a ‘planogram’ layout.
5. Locum Pharmacists
Locum pharmacists are staff that are hired on a temporary basis. Given their nature, pay rates for locum pharmacists can vary as in the UK, average wages in areas like Canterbury can be as high as £26, while in some parts of Northern Ireland they are paid as low as £15 an hour. For more information, see the complete ranges of pay for the United Kingdom in this report by “Locate a Locum”. The overall average pay rate for locum pharmacist is £22.05 an hour.
This can be important information while hiring locum pharmacists as negotiation is an incredibly important part of the hiring process. Of course, you should be hiring the best fit for the job regardless of price, but every bit of information helps when aiming to reduce operational costs. Overall, we have demonstrated that there are countless ways of improving on unnecessary costs in your business without sacrificing on quality. Know of any other cost-saving measures that led to success for your business? Let us know on social media at Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin!