You became a pharmacist because you wanted to help patients. What you probably didn’t count on is all the small tasks that, while necessary to keep your business afloat, distract you from that primary goal.
With only have so many hours in the day, you need to simplify operations to prioritize patient care and maximize your profits.
Use these 11 tips to streamline your business so you can focus on what matters the most.
1. Outsource thoughtfully
There are many business elements that are necessary to keeping your pharmacy running but aren’t directly related to getting prescriptions and services to patients.
Business functions like payroll or marketing are important, but they can also be distractions from your main mission.
By outsourcing, you can take those tasks off your plate and hand them over to a professional who will be able to complete them more efficiently than you can. Then, you’ll have more free time to apply to other parts of the pharmacy.
Consider outsourcing these functions:
2. Create standard operating procedures
If two of your employees are completing the same task in a different way, it could be that neither one is wrong, but it still creates room for miscommunication.
Instead of relying on employees to pass down instructions to each other, standardize your workflow with well-written and maintained standard operating procedures.
Having clear SOPs will also empower your employees to find solutions for themselves because they can refer to them when they have a question instead of distracting another staff member for answers.
3. Pare down paper
You’re required to keep certain paper copies around for the dreaded auditing day, but paper piling up can create unnecessary stress. The taller the pile gets, the longer it will take to work through it.
Create a process that defines which documents need to be retained and which can be disposed of — and when.
Go paperless when possible. While you may need paper logs of patient signatures, you don’t need a paper copy of your electric bill. Transferring to digital billing for your pharmacy wherever possible.
4. Focus on employee retention
When an employee resigns, the process to hire a replacement can throw a wrench into your business. Finding the right fit is time-consuming, not to mention employee turnover can kill productivity.
Not only are you losing someone with institutional knowledge, but your remaining employees may start to suffer from low morale.
Instead, focus on keeping your current employees happy so they don’t leave. You can keep people on board by ensuring they’re happy with management, satisfied with their duties, and that they aren’t walking into a toxic work environment.
5. Track your time
To become a more efficient business owner, you must fix your inefficiencies.
Spend a week tracking your time down to half-hour or even 15-minute increments. At the end of the week, look at how your time breaks down.
Are you spending as much time with patients as you want to be? Determine which tasks are taking longer than you want them to. This may be a prime opportunity to outsource or create a new workflow process.
6. Meet less often
You may think that meetings are just a part of life, like death and taxes. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Treat holding meetings as a last resort. Before you schedule a meeting, ask yourself if you can send an email or stop an employee for a quick chat.
If you absolutely must have a meeting, be smart about it. Write a clear agenda beforehand and only invite people who are essential to the task at hand.
Also, don’t schedule a meeting for an hour when you can accomplish the intended task in 30 minutes.
You’re probably already aware that adding pharmacy robotics can help you fill a huge chunk of your daily volume, freeing up time to spend with your patients.
But that’s not the only opportunity to automate and streamline your pharmacy’s business.
You can add automation to your phone system and reduce the amount of time you spend on the phone. You can also set up automatic payments on some of your bills so you don’t have to worry about missing payments.
Anything you do to reduce the number of menial tasks will help you focus on the big stuff.
8. Integrate software
When purchasing software for your pharmacy, makes sure the new technology can work with the technology you already have.
Instead of using one point-of-sale system, then going to a separate inventory management system, then visiting a supplier’s website to buy inventory, invest in a pharmacy management software that connects your point-of-sale to your inventory so you’re not having to do double duty, and choose to work with suppliers that have an EDI purchasing option.
As a pharmacy owner, it’s natural to want to have a finger in every pot. But to keep your business streamlined and efficient, you have to delegate to your staff members.
Many of the day-to-day tasks that are required to keep your pharmacy running are safe in the hands of your employees. Let others do administrative work like handling claims reconciliation, inputting patient information, or even purchasing.
Make sure you have a competent, reliable front-end manager so you can concentrate on patient-centric tasks instead of worrying about keeping the shelves tidy.
10. Prioritize to-do lists
A to-do list is a great start to getting organized. But you can make a to-do list even more useful by adding priorities.
Add a “low,” “medium,” or “high” priority label to each item on your to-do list and tackle those high priority items first.
Giving each of your to-do list items a priority label also prevents you from doing all of the easy (but less important) tasks first and procrastinating on your biggest and most important tasks.
11. Train continuously
Don’t let employee education stop after they’ve been onboarded. Instead, always be on the lookout for training opportunities that keep your long-time employees engaged with their work.
Getting a refresher on standard pharmacy tasks can help staff members improve their performance. It can also open the door for improvements on current SOPs.
An employee might point out during training they’ve been doing the task a different, more efficient way, which means they can teach their coworkers the updated technique so everyone is on the same page.
A Member-Owned Company Serving Independent Pharmacies
PBA Health is dedicated to helping independent pharmacies reach their full potential on the buy-side of their business. Founded and run by pharmacists, PBA Health serves independent pharmacies with group purchasing services, wholesaler contract negotiations, proprietary purchasing tools, and more.
An HDA member, PBA Health operates its own NABP-accredited warehouse with more than 6,000 SKUs, including brands, generics, narcotics CII-CV, cold-storage products, and over-the-counter (OTC) products — offering the lowest prices in the secondary market.