Pharmacies play a vital role in healthcare delivery. They deal with the aspects of disease management, control and prevention in healthcare operation management. Time is a critical factor for saving human lives. Thereby, patient safety is at stake when pharmacy services are executed in a disorganised, haphazard and hurried manner. Conversely, good time management by pharmacists significantly improves patient satisfaction.
However in the context of pharmacies, it is difficult to determine how exactly time is spent in carrying out various activities. This is due to the chaotic nature of the job involved in responding to demands .These demands may come from patients, Health Care Providers (HCPs) and suppliers with respect to medication orders, enquiries, complaints, clarifications and dispatch.
Top pharmaceutical consulting firms must address two vital aspects in this practice for efficiently managing time –
- How organised are the pharmacists at dispensing their tasks?
- What is the existing workflow in their environment?
These must be revamped if necessary to expedite waiting times for delivering timely service. Doing so greatly increases efficiency and quality of care.
Thanks to technology developments, most HCPs (including pharmacies) use Health Information Management Systems(HIMS). HIMS helps in handling voluminous healthcare data including patient records, transactions and medication requirements. Yet pharmacists find it difficult to utilize this information for
- Determining cost of time involved for each task
- Planning for productive time
- Reducing activities causing time wastage
- Assigning time-slots for work
- Managing time effectively for retrieval of information, handling emails and clutter
- Developing reminders for checking stock of drugs and surgical supplies, dispensing medicines at prescribed intervals and so on
By using the professional services of Healthcare Consulting Firm (HCF), pharmacies may overcome time shortage challenges. Apart from routine tasks, HCFs aid in successfully meeting the trials of new time-consuming initiatives and catering to daily impositions on time. This is achieved by developing and implementing strategies for –
- Time analysis by establishing accountability for each task using activity logs analysing expenditure on time. This helps in monitoring every work hour, identifying both the most and least productive times during the day and prioritizing tasks. Taking breaks during long working hours is also recommended to boost energy levels of pharmacists and minimizing medical errors.
- Setting goals that are realistic, targeted and achievable to maintain timeframes. Subsequently ,
- it is necessary for identifying the resources, infrastructure, time, support and knowledge needed to achieve this and also devise plans for overcoming any potential barriers. Finally classifying the activities as urgent (example: immediately responding to customer query with clinical advice) or important (like stock-taking of medicines) is crucial.
- Developing a robust and focussed action plan for redressing the pending work with minimal effort while still maximizing the output.
- Delegating non- clinical tasks like cumbersome paperwork and selling consumer goods to technicians or other staff. This reduces time spent on non-professional activities and prevents overwhelming. But delegation may require training for acquiring knowledge, skill-sets and competency. It also involves a cost which must be carefully weighed against the benefits of providing enhanced focus on professional activities. Additionally, delegation must be supported by periodic checking, reviewing and communication mechanisms.
- Avoiding common time wasters like unnecessary meetings/conferences, biased decision-making and maintaining disorganised information.
- Using effective time management tools like ‘To Do’ lists, activity logs and meeting planners. Technology aided devices like automatic phone diallers, tele/video conferencing tools, voice mails and scanners also act as time savers.
- Eliminating procrastination with realistic deadlines and reward systems to prevent delays.
Good Time Management helps pharmacies to boost productivity, minimize stress, prioritize real-time and accommodate changes easily with flexibility.