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6 things a pharmacy manager should measure (but usually doesn’t)

Your boss might not make these metrics mandatory but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide insightful data into your store-level operation. Just like individual practitioners, pharmacies themselves have identities. What's yours?

“What gets measured, gets managed.”

 -Peter Drucker

Your boss might not make these metrics mandatory but that doesn’t mean they don’t provide insightful data into your store-level operation. Just like individual practitioners, pharmacies themselves have identities. What's yours?

These 6 metrics are easy to capture and will help your operation build an identify of being highly efficient, patient-driven, easy to shop at and satisfying to work at:

1) % Compliance Pack Rx (efficiency)

The pharmacy is a tremendously reactive environment that finds itself at the mercy of times that their patients call, visit, see their doctors or get discharged from hospitals and surgeries. But a deep-thinking leader can identify the controllable and build systems to automate those prescriptions to allow more time for the uncontrollable prescriptions to be executed. While compliance packs (or “blisters”), the weekly blister packages pharmacies prepare as self-dosing aids, are driven by patient need and pharmacists' discretion, optimizing the opportunities they bring makes workflow very efficient since they are part of the predictable side of the business, allowing them to be worked on when the staff choose to.

The higher number of Rxs in the compliance program each week divided by the total number of weekly Rxs is a measurable parameter for leaders to track. 

Higher % compliance pack Rx will result in higher predictability and thus, efficiency. Check out this previous article about other common predictable versus unpredictable Rx count unlocks

Jason measurement
Jason measurement

2) Batch Rejection Rate (efficiency)

A batch is a method of scheduling your compliance packs to bill without a user manually billing each Rx. Many software vendors offer this programming and it is essential for efficiency. In my pharmacy, we schedule these to bill to insurance plans one morning per week before we open and 90% of the work is done for us. Over a few months of fine-tuning, we have settled on 82% of our Rxs going through without rejection messages from insurance providers. This means that human involvement is only minimally needed to finish this routine task. A low rejection rate means fewer human keystrokes for more efficiency. The main page or to-do screen of your software will show you how many Rxs were rejected out of how many total Rxs were billed inside the batch. Divide those and monitor from week to week. 

3) Prep and Check Time Per Blister Pack (efficiency)

Compliance packs range from 1 medication to over 20. But industry data suggests that the average weekly pack takes 6 minutes to prepare and check. Pharmacies that have blister-packing robots can get their averages even lower. Build a chart that allows the staff to track their time on the prep and check components for a few weeks then average out the results. 

Explain that no staff names are required since the exercise is not punitive. It is a study to see how we compare to the industry average. Any large numbers will signal your need to invent more efficient workflow in a particular area. 

4) Patients Medsync’ed (efficiency)

Medication synchronization is a method of having most or all of a patient’s refills come due at the same time. This reduces the number of low-value patient visits and ensures the technical side of what we do is complete when they come in, leaving time for high-value clinical interventions and patient education. It promotes efficiency and safety by reducing wait times, “owings,” drug plan complications and rushed preparation.

Choose 1 to 2 patients per week and ask them if they're interested in medsync. Then do the math based on days’ supply and field how many phone calls and one-off requests go down. There will be a threshold number of patients who have the staff feeling less interrupted; it’s your job to find it. 

5) Sick Days Per Employee (work satisfaction)

Moving away from efficiency and into job satisfaction, a leader can track sick days. There is an inverse relationship between absenteeism and job satisfaction. The more that people like their jobs, the less there are away. Of course, there are one-offs but we are looking for trends and patterns. Is anyone suddenly away much more often than they usually have been in the past 3 months? Is anyone away regularly on Mondays? You will be surprised how well people will open up to their leaders when approached empathetically and genuinely. Data opens the door as long as the approach is sincere. 

6) % IVR/App Requests (easy-to-shop)

There are various software options today to push some of the responsibility onto a capable patient to initiate a refill request. There are mobile apps and interactive voice response (IVR) programs that allow the work to come to you without you actively taking the request. Track the number of IVR/App refills compared to overall daily refills for a few weeks. Higher values will make your pharmacy more efficient but promoting the service without higher uptake will tell something even more important: your IVR/App is too difficult to navigate. Making your pharmacy easy-to-shop will raise uptake and promote efficiency. 

In a previous article, I wrote about the difference between Do-ers and Thinkers, their need for each other and how the thinker-leader produces a higher quality team. Monitoring these 6 metrics solidify what you bring to your patients, your team and your business as a thinker. 

Note: Since each pharmacy has a myriad of unique factors, there are no magic values for leaders to strive toward within these 6 metrics. Instead, implement a way to track the 6 categories in your pharmacy and measure progress until you feel a difference.

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