Now that you’re past the hectic holiday season, it’s time to take stock — literally. The new year and the incoming spring season are the perfect time to start fresh.
Pharmacies are a chaotic environment: you and your pharmacy staff constantly fill and sell prescriptions, usually at an urgent pace. Before you know it, your independent pharmacy becomes cluttered with unnecessary products.
Now that the ice is thawing, it’s time to clean your pharmacy and give it a light — but needed — facelift.
Whether you’re decluttering your pharmacy’s shelves or your pharmacy software system, here are some tips to clean your pharmacy and its software system
1. Throw Out Medications
To clean your pharmacy’s shelves is just like cleaning your home’s shelves: a lot of items seemed like a good idea at the time, but now they’re just gathering dust.
In the case of your pharmacy, there may be a few medications that haven’t moved an inch for a while. They may be too expensive for your patients (even if insurance “covers” them) or too much of a niche medication.
Clean your pharmacy by removing all unsold medications after a year. You can’t do a whole lot by holding out hope for someone to have a prescription for that medication.
Start the return process and ship the medication back to its manufacturer. You can clean your pharmacy and still make a nice profit out of it.
2. Save (or Check) the Dates
Though this may sound similar to the previous section, there is a distinct difference in this method of disposing medications.
All prescription medications have different shelf lives. Some are good for several years, whereas others expire within a few months. It is difficult but necessary to keep track of your soon-to-be expired medications.
Clean your pharmacy by taking out medications that will expire within the next two to three months. This will give you time to conduct the return process with time and minimize the risk of your patients taking expired medications.
Use the medications with the nearest expiration date first. This will require you to place the newest medications at the back of the shelf, which may take some extra time.
However, it will be worth it and will help you manage your independent pharmacy (and your inventory) more efficiently.
3. Return Your Medications Properly
The process of returning your unused or expired medications is more than just throwing them in a plastic bag. Wholesalers or manufacturers often require you to specify how many tablets remain in a bottle.
As such, count how many tablets are left and write that number on the bottle.
Ensure that the medication bottle is closed properly and not heavily damaged. Wholesalers or manufacturers may deny a return if they look too worn out.
You can refer to the EPA’s “How to Dispose of Medicines Properly” page for further guidance. You can also refer your patients to this page for their disposing needs.
Another note: make sure the bottles do not contain any HIPAA-sensitive information. A favorite fill method is to slap a prescription label on the stock bottle (for example: placing a stock bottle of 30 tablets when the prescription is for the same amount).
These labels become increasingly difficult to remove after longer periods of time so ensure that no patient information falls through the cracks.
4. Spring Clean Your Pharmacy Software System
Clutter isn’t always physical. Your pharmacy software system’s bandwidth needs some attention as well.
Efficiency is the name of the game for pharmacy work. Your patients demand more convenience, so it’s essential to have software that is quick, efficient, and simple.
To start, clean up your pharmacy’s patients’ profiles. This may mean deleting old insurance plans or manually updating your pharmacy’s inventory.
With the former, this will let you navigate through your patients’ profiles quicker since you’re not bogged down by unnecessary information. Though your software may be able to hold dense pieces of information, it never hurts to open some space.
Take a look at your pharmacy’s clinical services, specifically its vaccine inventory. Take out the vaccines you no longer provide so you can quickly navigate to the ones you do.
Make sure your software is up to date. Also, see that your software updates during more convenient times, whether overnight or when your pharmacy is closed for lunch.
There is nothing worse than not being able to help your patients because your software is updating. They may understand the situation, but don’t make the midday habits a regular occurrence.
5. Look at Your Will-Call Bin
A hard truth about pharmacy work is not everyone will pick their prescriptions up. Your pickup rack will overflow when those yet-to-be-purchased prescriptions stay.
Chances are your pickup rack is the first thing your patient sees when they walk into your independent pharmacy. Your pharmacy’s presentation plays a vital role in whether or not your patients will come back.
Be more proactive with your prescription returns. Depending on your prescription volume, you can return unpurchased prescriptions after seven to ten days.
As always, make sure your patient is in the loop. Whether it is through call or text, kindly remind them their prescription is ready to pick up for a specified number of days.
Your pharmacy software system should have automated call/text services, so let it do the heavy lifting while you focus on the task at hand.
Speaking of will-call bins, do your best to fill all of a patient’s prescriptions within a single order.
Some software systems make you fill one prescription per will-call bag, making the eventual pickup process a chore if your patient picks up multiple prescriptions at once.
This will require you to coordinate with your patient, their insurance plan, and even their doctor(s) so all of their prescriptions will be ready for refill at the same time. The more convenient you make it for your patient, the more likely they are to come back.
It’s always good to do some cleaning — whether it’s your house, room, independent pharmacy, or your pharmacy software system.
Spring cleaning your pharmacy is a fantastic way to begin the year. However, you don’t need to wait for daylight savings or warmer weather to take out your cleaning supplies.
A pharmacy is only clean after the act of cleaning. In other words, you have to do it again and again.