Few things are more distressing to a pharmacist than to peer out at the pharmacy waiting area and see an obviously ill patient waiting for a prescription to be filled. It’s especially heartbreaking when the patient is a child, or a senior citizen. And while most patients understand it takes time to process and fill a prescription, there is a point at which a “normal” wait time is deemed to be excessive. Since a pharmacist doesn’t have a way to gauge each patient’s “wait time breaking point,” it’s best to try and improve overall work flow processes, as a way to minimize wait times for everyone.
A first step though, is to understand industry “norms” for prescription fill times, and patient satisfaction – or dissatisfaction with those averages. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceutical’s 2016 PULSE survey of pharmacies and customers, found that while more than half (54 percent) of pharmacies surveyed filled prescriptions in less than five minutes, 24 percent took up to 30 minutes, and for seven percent of pharmacies, the wait was even longer.
The survey also found independent pharmacies, and pharmacies located within food markets to have shorter wait times, while clinic pharmacies had longer wait times. The survey noted though, a trend among independent pharmacies for longer wait times.
While the issue of prolonged pharmacy wait times is certainly not new to the industry, innovative solutions are making it possible to address the problem. Much of this innovation is fueled by technology, which is having a tremendous impact on improving pharmacy efficiency, and helping to reduce – sometimes even eliminate – wait times.
Key benefits of an integrated technology solution may include:
While a pharmacy will never be able to eliminate patient wait times, technology offers significant opportunities to dramatically improve efficiency. Further, as pharmacies try to distinguish themselves from competitors, the value of minimizing wait times becomes even more important.