Process problems and delays

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

I just popped into my local pharmacy to pick up a presecription on the way back from working in a coffee shop. What should have taken less than a minute took six or seven times as long, for easily-solvable reasons.

  1. There’s no clear place to line up, meaning staff have to ask who’s next. It’s not always obvious who is next.
  2. The dispenser asked for my surname, then flicked through a large pile of prescriptions to check whether mine had been processed. This took time, and she could easily have missed one while thumbing through.
  3. Once she found my presecription, she looked for the medication itself on the shelf behind her. This took a long time, even when I helpfully pointed out that it was unlikely to be in the place she was looking, as the bag it comes in is of ‘medium’ size.
  4. In the end, a colleague pointed out that what the dispenser had assumed was a number ‘2’ (referring to the item’s location) was actually a ‘7’.
  5. I paid as usual, and left.

By itself, no big deal. I’m not in so much of a hurry that spending an additional five minutes in the pharmacy once every few months makes much different to my life. But this is an ‘award winning pharmacy’ which must deal with hundreds of presecriptions per day.

What could they do better?

  1. Make it obvious how to approach the counter, and who’s next.
  2. Go fully digital so entering the first few letters of my name brings up the status of my ordered prescription.
  3. Listen to patients. They might actually know something about what their repeat prescription looks like!
  4. The digital system would be more accurate in terms of location, as there would be no hurried, scrawled numbers in human hand on the prescription.
  5. Apologise for delays (customers have come to expect this, although I’m not particularly bothered)

I’ll email this to the pharmacy and update this if I get a reply. It’s a small thing, but these things add up, especially when it comes to over-worked staff and taxpayers money.