Visualization and Consideration on Improving of the Working Operation for the Dispensing Pharmacist
A Case Report on Time and motion Study
Dispensing fee in 2020 should be reviewed to shift for the primary care pharmacy and pharmacist with the aim of the“Vision for Patient-centered Pharmacies” towards 2025. The role of pharmacy and pharmacist in community-based integrated care systems have become more diverse such as the home medical care for the elderly, regional medical care, and continuous medical instruction. Therefore, the case report describes the consideration on visualization and efficiency of operations of the dispensing pharmacist.
This case report was targeted at the Pharmacy which was a community-based dispensing pharmacy. It was located on the 1st floor of Medical Clinic Building which was a 1-minute walk from Oimachi Station in Shinagawa-ku.
The concept of this dispensing pharmacy was "Not to keep patients waiting" with various approaches.
For instance, the prescriptions could be taken online in advance,or QR codes could be used for prescriptions at affiliated medical facilities to reduce the time required. And efficiency of operational line was improved by locating the medicines by the usage frequency. Those made the pharmacist focus more specialized works in collaboration with the clerical staff.
Therefore, the case report describes the consideration on visualization and efficiency of operations of the dispensing pharmacist.
The objectives of this case report was to clarify the difference between the actual measurement data and perceived values of the management and pharmacist from the viewpoints of professional consultant as a third party, in order to improve the efficiency of the working operation.
In this report, the business improvement is considered, taking Work Style Reform into account, as the role of pharmacy and pharmacist have become more diverse for the needs of the home medical care for the elderly, regional medical care, and continuous medical instruction.
The method of the case report was that a professional consultant visited the dispensing pharmacy and took records of the average works of one pharmacist for one day through conducting time study and interviews. The work contents were categorized and procedures and frequency of the works were recorded by a stopwatch from opening and closing time. It was conducted in early February, 2020.
The duration for the patients to stay in the pharmacy was for 5 minutes on average (including preparing for pediatric medicines, ointment and packaging etc.). It took only two minutes on average for providing medicines frequently prescribed or few numbers of prescribed medicines. In the morning, the pharmacist worked on the data entery into the system of patient medicine records because the pharmacy was calm in general, though there were some patients at the opening hour. There were peak times during lunch time and evening, and twelve to thirteen people visited for one hour from 12 to 13 o'clock, and eleven people visited for one hour from 17 to 18 o’clock. At off-peak times, the pharmacist and clerical staff worked on managing delivered products, cleaning and pre-packing. In addition, the pharmacist visited several patients nearest the dispensing pharmacy to support taking medication and also conducted the meetings with doctors, nurses and care managers at the affiliated clinics for two days a week.
The ratio of the recorded hours was 75:25 to be categorized into interpersonal works and objective works. The result showed that the pharmacist almost achieved the aim of hours for interpersonal works.
The pharmacists are required to devote themselves to works related to their specialty and dispensing fee, considering the dispensing pharmacy business. Especially, for the structural transition from the objective to interpersonal works, it is necessary to shift to the interpersonal works after slimming the objective works. In order to do that, it needs to be considered to visualize the current situations and identify the areas for the improvement. By measuring the actual works and visualizing the current situations objectively, the points to be improved are clarified. The management should link it to increase the dispensing pharmacy’s profit.
In particular, it can contribute to shifting a part of operations to RPA (Robotic Process Automation) or to consider human resource management. Visualizing the flow of operations that should be improved, it will clarify where the technology can be introduced and will be helpful to formulate a business strategy and to allocate human resources appropriately.
It is likely to be the first step towards the Future of Workforce, which is ahead of Work Style Reform.
The pharmacist who was interviewed this time mentioned that the visualized actual data made it easy to understand the current situation and to consider the next action for the improvement. And also, the management of this dispensing pharmacy mentioned that it was meaningful to consider effectively the technology intervention with operation. Ale Pharmacy has already introduced the systems such as automatic display for necessary information of the patients by the digital signage linked with prescription data, and RPA was introduced at another pharmacy of the same group. Therefore, their future movements will also attract attention.
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