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6 top tips to really see your pharmacy like a patient

Wayne Caverly

Have you looked at your pharmacy the way a patient does?

This is a key question Wayne Caverly of Caverly Consulting asks his clients.

One pharmacy he worked with – an old-style drugstore within an even older grocery store – had not seen any serious updates since the 1970s.

With the changing demographics of the business, including a large walk-in customer base and a growing methadone population, this particular pharmacy was ripe for change.

First thing Caverly did was to review the changes required from the perspective of customers and patients.

“It’s a challenge for pharmacy staff to see their pharmacy as the patient sees it,” Caverly says. That’s where I come in, as I see the store with fresh eyes and am able to compare it to thousands of other pharmacies I’ve visited over the years.”

In this particular situation, he says the main issue that drove the design was the very large methadone business. To complete the work while minimizing disruption to day-to-day services, the construction team built a temporary dispensary in front of the existing counter, with the new one installed behind it.

They then built two reception areas – one for prescriptions and the other for what they call Specialty Services, essentially creating two separate streams for the very different clients:  

  • Two contact points for methadone patients – one for receiving them and one for dispensing methadone and watching patients drink it.
  • Greater separation and reduced interaction between methadone and non-methadone patients.
  • The ability to serve two methadone patients at the same time, if necessary.

Counters were lowered to improve visibility – for customers and staff. The team added a patient seating area with six comfortable chairs to the open space in front of the dispensary and a couple more along the side.

Other changes to enhance the patient experience included replacing flooring and lighting, adding new paint and signage, making the space brighter and more inviting. Shelving units were brought down to eye level to improve sight lines.

Caverly also recommended adding a semi-private counselling area and private clinic to serve the particular patient needs. The added privacy definitely enhanced the patient experience.

The renovations were more than a simple rethinking of pharmacy layout. They were a new approach to really seeing the pharmacy from the patients' eyes. Eye-opening!

Top tips to see your pharmacy like a patient

  • When you enter your pharmacy, watch and listen as if you were a patient. What do you see and hear? Take notes as you “tour” the aisles and share them with your staff in creating a more customer-centric experience.
  • Do you see barriers to services and products? If so, what can be done to improve access?
  • Pay attention to sightlines, positioning of displays, and where your important services are located in your store.
  • Ensure that staff can see customers – and customers can see employees.
  • Engage your staff in making changes. Your employees can be your eyes and ears, so encourage suggestions and reward ideas that result in positive changes.
  • Always be open to change, what you do and how you do it. The way you’ve always done it isn’t necessarily the best way.



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