How to Design a Pharmacy

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The goals of pharmacy layout and design are to increase customer satisfaction and reduce dispensing errors. According to the Honest Apothecary website, a good design plan should also optimize the workflow by eliminating unnecessary steps. In addition, the design plan must comply with Americans With Disabilities Act guidelines that ensure entryways, aisles, counters and seating can accommodate customer who use walkers, wheelchairs or other mobility devices.

Drop-off and Prescription Input Areas

The drop-off window should be centrally located and large enough to accommodate one or more computer workstations, a telephone and enough counter space to work comfortably. The Store Planning Associates website recommends that you provide at least 8 feet of counter space for work areas and workstations. Although many pharmacies incorporate drop-off and input tasks -- entering the prescription into the computer system -- into a single step, you’ll need to allow extra room for organizing the prescriptions that have to be entered if your business breaks this into two steps.

Filling Station Requirements

According to the Center for Health Design, interruptions and distractions account for 45 percent of prescription-dispensing errors. To combat these issues and eliminate unnecessary steps, place filling station cubicles constructed from sound-absorbing materials, such as acoustic sound panels or hanging sound baffles, on a carpeted area behind the drop-off counter and close to supplies and locked and open drug storage areas. Dwyer Products recommends allowing 200 square feet to 400 square feet of space for storing drugs and supplies. Place supplies and the 15 to 20 fastest-moving drugs in front of a locked storage area.

Pick-up, Consultation and Waiting Areas

Position the pick-up window and a separate consultation window away from the drop-off location. To accomplish this, create a customer waiting area in front and between the drop-off and pick-up areas. Beyond the waiting area, configure store aisles to run perpendicular to the pharmacy counter to make it easy for pharmacists and assistants to see when a customer needs assistance. Allow enough perpendicular space in front of both windows for a waiting line. Place sound barrier partitions on both sides of the consultation window to make it more private.

What About a Drive-Through Window?

Arguments exist on both sides of a decision to include a drive-through service in the design. However, while many pharmacies do include them for customer convenience, a study led by Sheryl Szeinbach, a pharmacy practice and administration professor at Ohio State University, showed that a drive-through window might increase processing delays and prescription-dispensing errors and reduce efficiency. After reviewing study results for 429 pharmacies, Szeinbach suggested that a drive-through window might increase multitasking demands and interfere with patient communication and counseling responsibilities.

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About the Author

Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.

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