Solving the riddle of lost scripts

In this real time insight, Farah Ali, general manager at Warman-Freed, Perrigo's learning pharmacy, shows how they overcame the costly issue of lost prescriptions, using templates, tenacity and teamwork.

the aim for many in pharmacy is to move to a service based contract, prescription numbers currently still drive profitability. So, when these are declining, or when you aren’t able to complete the scripts you do get, it’s imperative to find out why. 

5 September 2018

Our prescription volume is down. While it feels difficult to remedy at the moment, we need to push ourselves forward. So the question is: what are we going to do about it?

12 September 2018

I’ve been mulling it over and while I have a considerable amount of information at my fingertips – peak dispensing times, periods of highest footfall and staff shift pattern – the cause of lost scripts is something I don’t have all the answers to. 

Retaining as many scripts as possible will not only have a positive effect on our bottom line, but by improving our service we’re also increasing the chance of repeat custom and word-of-mouth recommendation.

19 September 2018

I held a staff meeting today to get as much input as possible from the team as they will be doing the data collection. I knew they would be on board and can already feel a shared sense of ownership and commitment to better understanding why we’re losing scripts and doing something constructive about it. We agreed that the only way we’ll really get to the root of the problem is to carefully monitor it over a period of time.

26 September 2018

We’ve designed a simple template to capture five key bits of information about each lost script. The location of the template – within the dispensary at the main computer desk – might seem trivial on the face of it, but it’s integral to the success of the initiative. Placing it at the start-point for the workflow through the dispensary means staff can log details in the table using key words in under a minute – so there’s no impact on customer waiting times. We will start at the beginning of October, so everyone is ready and clear on the ask.

5 December 2018

I’ve been reviewing and collating the data on a weekly basis and after two months it’s clear that the main issues causing the loss of scripts are:

  • Medication out of stock / manufacturer supply issues
  • Not having the full quantity for the script at the time
  • Unusual medications
  • Unclear or illegible prescriptions that we have been unable to confirm with the prescriber.

The last point is really interesting as one of our biggest business attributes, our late opening hours, means that surgeries are often closed when we want to clarify something in real time. I can also see several instances where patients live too far away for them to return to us and they’ve opted to try a more local pharmacy instead.

1 March 2019

This fact-finding mission has really paid off. While simple measures like improving stock holdings on key lines have definitely had a positive impact, it’s the adjustments we’ve made to our internal communication that have proved to be the real game-changer. 

By implementing clear and consistent processes for the communication of vital information like out of stocks and changes to prescribing in our local area, our staff have been able to better anticipate potential issues and head them off at the pass. 

The number of lost scripts are now at an all-time low and prescription volume is up!

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