8 fundamentals you need to get right

The coffee conversations with various pharmacy owners  and managers I enjoyed a few years ago around the imperative of refocusing pharmacists from the rear technical processing role to the forward customer engagement role was predominantly anchored by whether and why questions.  These days these sorts of conversations are predominantly anchored by when and how.  This is a good thing.  It indicates that, by whatever means, the awareness and awakening in regards to such a change has kicked in and is now relatively widespread.

Like any significant business change journey, implementation and execution is hard, and always seems to take longer than anticipated.  Sometimes the vision of what is required in regards to the right attitude and aptitude incumbent on the owners, managers and team members is not even clear at the get go.  It can be a long and arduous journey. For example, the award winning PSA Health Destination Pharmacy was based on a 3 year change management program.   Whatever milestone you are at in terms of your own version of this journey, it is very helpful to always keep in mind that there is a gap between the awareness and awakening that is required to galvanise the bias for action to embark on such a journey… and the attitude and aptitude required to help steer you in the right direction, create the vision of nirvana and bring it to life.  Day in, day out.

Workflow and customer engagement at the dispensary service counters analysis from more than 250 studies conducted by The Next Level over recent years, enables correlation and behaviour-to-performance patterns to be derived in this regard.  This work is still on-going, but 8 fundamentals are emerging in terms of things you need to get right to successfully negotiate the gap between awareness/awakening and attitude/aptitude.  Saliently, the typical sequencing of these fundamentals shows us that there are two progressions at play…

  • The changes required move progressively from physical and structural <the dispensary and professional services precinct of the pharmacy> to hearts and minds <the people – both team and customers>
  • Therefore the degree of difficulty becomes progressively harder


8 fundamentals you need to get right


  • Continually benchmark against current industry standards in terms of dispensary team size and mix … and resource to the level that you believe will give you competitive advantage
    • Right now, the current average ratio is 7.9 full time equivalent staff working and serving the dispensary/health sections per 100,000 scripts processed
    • Of which, 46% are pharmacists, 22% dispensing technicians, 25% pharmacy assistants, 6% pre-reg

*These figures have been updated since the video recording* 

  • Service specialisation
    • Determine the degree to which you will dedicate specific and sole counter locations for the three primary services – script in; script out; otc
  • Counter separation
    • Determine the degree to which you will support your service specialisation with physically separate counters, or at least “real estate dedication” within multi-purpose counter/s
  • “Service hub” set up
    • Determine the degree to which you will create a “one stop shop” at each service/counter location, allowing for as many of the “tools of the trade”, including appropriate add-on companion products, to be located within a stride or two of that location
  • Workflow for maximum efficiency AND effectiveness
    • Efficiency => as you design and configure in accordance with these fundamentals, try to maximise the one-way, in -> out , U-shaped flow of work and staff.  Minimise staff traffic flow cross-overs
    • Effectiveness => also in your design and configuration, try to spread your service / counter locations as much as possible.  Use all your counter “real estate” – especially the extremities, to foster an environment conducive to private customer-staff consultations
  • Customer traffic flow for maximum efficiency AND effectiveness
    • Efficiency => now mirror your workflow efficiency for customers.  Minimise congestion and educate customers on the benefits of encouraging them to honour your new traffic flow.
    • Effectiveness => now mirror your workflow effectiveness for customers.  By spreading and using the full breadth of your service counter real estate, corral your customers to traverse a greater number of your gondola aisles to get to/from their chosen service counter location
  • Establish your “team game plan”
    • Now assign between 1 to 4 task priorities to specific service counter locations,  by role type.  Then you can continuously roster specific staff to specific service counter locations…and the incumbent task priorities for that role type – service counter location combo.  Just like a premiership AFL/NRL team…players will get swung around during the game to different positions on the field, but all players in the team, at all times, know their task priorities, as well as those of all their team mates.

* Ask us about our rostering tool*

  • Set your service vision and standards  for competitive advantage
    • Think clearly now about your six health customer journey touchpoints, and define what the “wow” experience will look like.  Complete and finesse the way you are marshalling your people, processes and products accordingly, so that you can deliver… every time.


Easy for a fascinated observer like me to write about…massively harder for you to successfully execute.  Of course some of the pre-requisite aptitude and attitude lies in that ubiqitous concept, leadership.  Another chapter for another day.

If you need assistance to implement your change or you would like to book your rescore audit please get in touch!