Follow the leaders
Most superstore chemists have recently concentrated their efforts in this field with cost efficient dispensaries, creating environments that offer the maximum from their dispensing systems and capital employed. Most have embraced new ergonomically designed dispensary layouts with modular shelving systems that can adapt to the ever changing dispensing environment. This concentration on ‘cost saving through efficiencies’ has delivered many benefits in stock management, safer quicker selection and greater prescription output. Moreover, freeing up staff to take more of a customer care roll and improved community services.
These benefits are not just for the chain stores. They can be very successfully delivered to the individual pharmacy – efficiency is not just a target for the ‘big guys’, and all pharmacists can follow their lead and invest in better and more effective dispensing.

Room to work safely and speedily
A modern ergonomically designed modular shelving system has been employed by most of the high street multiples . This open retractable drawer system is interchangeable and can be installed into virtually any space, whether a large out of town superstore or a high street unit. The benefits are:

  • Increased localised stock density – 100 per cent more than traditional small timber shelves. No more separate stock stored elsewhere!
  • Reduces selection errors with better stock demarcation and separation within the drawers. Helps meet industry targets and trends.
  • Open retractable drawers for quicker medicine identification and improved selection. Chains have adopted these in increasing numbers as they improve output by 25 per cent, saving time in processing stock.
  • Stock control FIFO principles save on out of date stock, and stock plans and auditing is quicker.
  • Interchangeable shelving allows the practitioner to reposition stock and preparation areas as required with little professional help.

Adopting these principles will create a safer, more efficient dispensary, and free staff to concentrate on better customer care and hopefully remove some of the stress from the dispensary team.

Getting started
Most pharmacists would rather have the stress of moving house than consider changing their dispensaries, but it really does not have to be that painful. Traditional timber systems often require store fitters’ building units on site, loads of chippies, tradesmen, tools, wood dust and mess. I shudder just contemplating the upheaval, and understand why practitioners shy away from this project.
A modular steel shelving system has none of these traits; it is a series of steel upright frameworks that clips together with all the shelves drawers, work tops and accessories clipping into place. Very few tools are required. Typically a refit can be completed in under three days. Sure, the existing system has to be removed, but that is the case for any refit. The barriers to change can be big, but the rewards are bigger. This is why you will find the chain groups have moved ahead with these systems over continental drawer cabinets and traditional timber shelves.

Return on investment
The question often asked is, why should I invest in such fiscal times? Well the answer is that your future income will come from dispensing and the most you can achieve in this area is crucial to the future success of your practice. The bug players in the market have already acknowledged this and have started making their plans to stay ahead of the competition by investing in modern dispensing equipment and ergonomically designed dispensaries. Those that do invest, reap the rewards of increased efficiency and good practice.

Richard G Kay
of Pharmashelve Ltd