Community Reliance on Pharmacies Expected to Grow Exponentially-Is Your Staff Ready?

October 28, 2022

For pharmacies, the recent pandemic has offered continued opportunities to serve their localities, both as healthcare providers and community leaders. Counseling and education opportunities, tests, and vaccinations are expected to continue increasing in record numbers, so pharmacists and staff should prepare for and welcome this.

Pharmacist speaking with patient at pharmacy counter

At the recent TSE (Total Store Expo-NACDS) Schedule360 couldn’t help but notice conversations were buzzing about how pharmacies got through the pandemic and how they will manage staffing challenges and meet community expectations in the future.

With flu season on the horizon, pharmacies are preparing for the increased demand in their services. Now is the perfect time to implement an innovative staff scheduling software solution created for the unique needs of pharmacy staff scheduling.

Time Off Coverage Requests

Pharmacy managers know all too well the daily challenges that exist surrounding time-off requests. Staff shortages and increased patient demand continue to spread pharmacy staff coverage thin. Creating and managing staff schedules can feel like two separate jobs, as both involve balancing time off requests, shift preferences, and adequate coverage with qualified employees. Future schedules are released for convenience and proper planning but changes in live schedules will always occur, so having an efficient way to manage these requests is an ideal solution for pharmacies of all sizes.

When an hourly employee doesn’t have vacation time to use but they request additional time off for a scheduling period that has already been published, pharmacies are now able to implement a standard process for handling this type of request, without transferring the responsibility of finding coverage onto the schedulers or management.

Using Schedule360’s time off coverage requests feature, staff can submit requests for time off and an admin can approve it contingent on the staff finding a replacement for their shift on their own.

This feature:

  • Works at a location level.
  • Makes the entire process electronic, removing the manual process completely.
  • Allows coverage requests for OT to be marked as pending, creating checks and balances so you can have someone who is close to OT take a shift with OT approval first.

The first step of the process begins when an employee makes the request for time off by submitting it through the platform. The employee can choose to include a note if they wish. Once the request is submitted it is listed as pending. Schedulers can then go into the pending time-off requests to view the requests and either approve, deny, or set it to “coverage”, meaning they approve the time off request if the employee can find coverage. This changes the request from a pending status to covered and is approved if another employee picks up the shift.

Modify Shift Timing on Live Schedules

Recently we had a customer request to update master schedules more efficiently in pharmacies. Specifically, the client wanted to release schedules farther in advance with a more straightforward way to manage shift modifications for live schedules.

Previously, any changes made to set schedules would automatically be applied to future-release schedules, but not to the weeks that had already been released. This was a problem because some locations release set schedules far into the future, like 10-12 weeks out. Anytime a shift change was made to the set schedule, an admin had to manually find all occurrences of that shift change in the live schedules and apply the changes one by one.

This new feature streamlines the process, saving pharmacies and clinics a significant amount of time by making it much easier to locate and modify shifts in the live schedules to reflect the respective changes as needed.

With Modify Shift Timing, you can adjust shifts on live schedules through batch selection by employee, department or unit, location, or shift times. This new feature provides a quick, easy, and accurate way to locate and make changes to applicable shifts on live schedules. It also eliminates the need for a dedicated employee to manually find each shift that needs to be changed.

Large Scale Call-Offs

Schedule360’s unique call-off feature comes in especially useful for large pharmacy chains with multiple locations across several regions. Large scale pharmacy chains receive hundreds of  last minute call-offs per day. Acquiring the manpower needed to manually oversee this process is unattainable and unrealistic. Instead, Schedule360 rolled out an automated call off feature so pharmacies don’t have to figure out a way to “man the phones” so to speak.

This feature allows for up to 7 days ahead to call off, but many clients set the window to 48 hours ahead instead. Whenever an employee “calls off” by entering the information through the Schedule360 interface, the request is listed as “pending”. This can even be broken down by region, market, district, and geography with filters on each. This feature allows employees to enter a call-off, showing it as “pending” until a scheduler can review the call-off and process it. This feature eliminates the need for a dedicated employee to answer phones all day.

Once submitted, schedulers are notified and can process the request when it’s convenient for them.

When a scheduler is processing the call-off, they have the option to:

  • Reopen the shift
  • Make it HOT
  • Dispatch the open shift immediately
  • Do nothing and leave the shift unfilled, depending on the need

The scheduler can approve and mark the staff member off, and by approving the dropped shift, the system automatically removes them from the schedule for that shift. Schedulers can then determine whether they need to backfill the shift. They can also add notes indicating what they plan on doing with the shift, and this level of transparency in staff scheduling creates efficiency on every shift.

Enhanced Messaging Capabilities

Schedule360 understands how vital it is for management to communicate their scheduling needs effectively and quickly to available employees. For this reason, Schedule360 pharmacy scheduling software comes equipped with an integrated messaging tool.

As we continue to meet the needs of our clients, we’re always looking for ways to improve our scheduling software and saw an opportunity to provide our clients with enhanced messaging capabilities that allow admins to segment messages to relevant staff.

By doing so, they can broadcast a message to only those staff members scheduled to work that day, to available staff who aren’t scheduled to work, or send a message to everyone on the list including those who requested the day off. This feature has become extremely useful while navigating the current expectations in the field. They can also choose how they want to contact staff by selecting message board, email, cell, or secondary email.

No one likes to be bombarded with messages, especially if they don’t apply to them. This messaging feature dramatically reduces the occurrence of over-messaging by allowing managers to effectively communicate to only those who the message applies to, versus sending out a mass message to everyone for every scheduling issue that comes about.

Employee Scheduling Software Feature: Reminders

With Schedule360’s shift reminder feature, you can set up the system to send shift reminder messages. Employees can automatically set  their preferences for shift reminders to be received by email, text, or both, that dispatch the day before their scheduled shift. This is especially helpful if someone picked up a shift or traded a shift on a day or time they don’t normally work. The reminder can also be sent to the main message board where it can be reviewed.

To use this feature, staff will have to opt in. Employees will want to take advantage of this shift reminder if they often pick up shifts outside of their normal rotation to keep them from forgetting. Although an opt-in is required by the user, administrators can require staff to opt-in if they have a habit of being late or unintentionally skipping shifts. As is the case for all Schedule360 features, admins can configure rules and set up for their unique location.

Pharmacy Staff Scheduling Support By Schedule360

If you’re struggling to keep up with the increased demands for pharmacy services, Schedule360 is here to help. We specialize in pharmacy scheduling and have everything you need and more to tackle whatever scheduling and reporting challenges come your way. Contact us today to schedule a configured demo of our highly adaptable pharmacy scheduling software solutions.