To drive-through or not to drive-through

February 1, 2017By Focus on the Pharmacy Front End Blog, Independent Pharmacy

by Megan Moyer

I recently accompanied my dad to pick up some medications from the chain drug store my parents go to. After we dropped off the new prescriptions, I observed the chaos of a pharmacy that has a drive-through.

Although my parents appreciate the convenience of the drive-through prescription pick-up, it certainly is a detractor when you go in to get new medication. The technician and the pharmacist were being pulled in three or more directions at any given time, serving the prescription customers in the store, those in the drive-through, and those on the phone. I don’t need to tell you it was less than an ideal interaction when picking up new prescriptions and needing to concentrate on what doses should be taken when, and what interactions to watch out for, etc.

I was grateful we didn’t need assistance choosing an accompanying OTC medication because I would have felt guilty asking the pharmacist to come out from behind the counter to explain our options in the aisle. Again, not the shopping experience you want for your patients who may not feel well or are already stressed out.

Finally, another technician joined them which seemed to ease the workflow somewhat, but it still appeared quite hectic. The visit brought into sharp focus the many the many things a pharmacist must juggle during any given shiftthings a pharmacist must juggle during any given shift. There’s the various interactions with patients, whether they’re right in front of them, outside the pick-up window, or on the phone. Then there’s communications throughout the day with physicians or insurance carriers for clarifications or approvals. Add to that personnel management, oversight of the pharmacy, reporting, inventory management…I’m in awe of how pharmacists manage it all!

So, to drive-through or not to drive-through? Drive-throughs can provide convenience for your customers with busy schedules or those with mobility challenges who can eliminate the need to navigate their way into your store. The downside is it’s yet another piece to manage and can diminish the overall level of care you provide your patients. It also takes away the opportunity for impulse sales.

Evaluate the positives against the negatives, particularly when it comes to the patient experience you strive to provide. That might include a survey of your patients and a good hard look at the types of interactions you’re currently having. Finding the right balance is worth the effort.