How to Reduce Wait Times in Your Pharmacy

How to Reduce Wait Times in Your Pharmacy by Elements magazine |

In a world where the customer is always right and technology is always advancing, patients are used to getting what they want when they want it.

If your independent community pharmacy doesn’t give it to them, another pharmacy will.

Research shows that 97 percent of people are frustrated by wait times, but only a small percentage are willing to pay for quicker service.

That means you get stuck with the cost of reducing wait times. But investing in it can pay off.

Long wait times create dissatisfied patients, which could mean significant losses in long-term profits through decreased customer retention, fewer repeat visits, and negative reviews.

Try these time-saving techniques to cut wait times and keep your patients satisfied.

Invest in automation

Automated dispensing systems take over the time-consuming tasks of counting, pouring, and labeling prescriptions. Patients will get their prescriptions faster and you’ll have more time to focus on other tasks.

Automated dispensing systems also ensure a higher success rate of correctly filled prescriptions. And, faster dispensing and fewer errors mean patients spend less time waiting.

Consider whether automation is right for your pharmacy, and make sure you’re prepared to integrate it.

Improve your workflow

Streamlining your pharmacy’s workflow will naturally reduce wait times.

Create a flowchart to evaluate where you can make cuts or improve efficiency. Small cuts across the entire process translate to big time savings.

Common pharmacy workflow bottlenecks include:

  • Not enough staff during high-demand hours
  • Too many staff during low-demand hours
  • Not enough open registers
  • Disorganized inventory or dispensary
  • More required steps than necessary for completing a task

Use an efficient POS system

A pharmacy’s point-of-sale (POS) system is either a time-sucker or a time-saver.

Which one is yours?

A robust pharmacy POS system increases efficiency.

POS systems often include features to expedite the checkout process, like “one and done” signature capture or integrated payments. Even simple POS adjustments can speed up payments and cut down lines.

Encourage patients to help themselves

Sometimes you’re doing your part but patients aren’t doing theirs. And you still get left with the blame.

Make decreasing wait times a two-way responsibility.

If you have time-saving systems in place, ask patients to use them effectively. For example:

  • Encourage patients to use your online or mobile options to refill prescriptions
  • Suggest patients avoid coming during peak hours
  • Inform patients about the swift benefits of using mobile payments, such as Apple Pay
  • Point patients to your payment and pickup kiosk
  • Recommend patients use your delivery service

Dedicate staff to specialty roles

Here’s the scenario. Your pharmacy tech is solving an issue with one patient, and the whole line waits for what feels like forever until it’s resolved.

You want to get to know your patients. To listen and to counsel them. But engaging with one patient might mean making others wait.

Assign designated roles to solve these common wait problems.

Designate one employee to issue resolution. When there’s an issue during checkout, he or she can take the patient to another register to resolve the problem, which keeps the line moving.

Delegate checkout duties to your staff, and dedicate pharmacists’ time to answering questions and conversing with patients.

Patients who want one-on-one time with the pharmacist are more willing to wait. But patients who only want to quickly check out aren’t as forgiving.

So give patients what they want. Reduce their wait times and keep them coming back for your excellent customer service.


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 owned 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 secondary wholesaler 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.

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Elements is written and produced by PBA Health, a buy-side solutions company.

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