Solutions To Pharmacy Scheduling Challenges
Employee scheduling has become complicated. Pharmacy managers all have common scheduling obstacles. Whether you’re managing a chain, independently owned, or hospital pharmacy, you’ve asked yourself questions like:
How can I hire and schedule more pharmacy techs?
What should I do with all the new pharmacy grads?
How can I combat low reimbursement rates and start making my pharmacy more profitable?
Choosing the right pharmacy scheduling software can help you streamline your pharmacy scheduling process, organize your employees’ availability, maximize workflow, and add value to your pharmacy.
Combating common scheduling challenges and other pharmacy scheduling issues is possible. With a little bit of planning, coupled with the best employee scheduling software, you’ll solve most of your scheduling problems.
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How to Create a Pharmacy Schedule
You need to create a schedule that meets the demands of your pharmacy. It is a tedious task and requires the utmost organization. Luckily, the digital age has made things easier by eliminating the need for manual spreadsheets on paper.
The three most commonly used methods for creating pharmacy schedules today are:
- Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
- Google Drive and One Drive
- Pharmacy Scheduling Software
1. Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet
Microsoft Excel spreadsheets can help modernize your pharmacy scheduling process. Spreadsheets can help you organize your schedule in a clear, easy to read platform. Creating templates that can be saved and used for every schedule makes the process of creating each schedule a little faster.
However, it has some drawbacks.
While Microsoft Excel spreadsheets are extremely budget-friendly, they’re not online. This means when changes are made, the document must be printed and reposted or resent via email. You will also need to notify employees when changes are made because they will not always have access to the updated schedule.
This may seem like a financially smart way to go, but you’ll spend more in the long run on your labor costs to stay ahead of the inevitable schedule changes.
2. Google Drive and One Drive
You can create online schedule spreadsheets with Google and One Drive, and they’re shareable online. Just copy the link and share that link with employees. Once they have the link, they can log in to their personal Google account and view the schedule via a web browser. Schedule changes adjust automatically as you save them.
However, you will still need to notify employees to check for scheduling changes or tag them in comments if you want them to receive a notification when something on the schedule changes. This is a better option because of the online access to the schedule and easier updating, but it doesn’t provide a view of the big picture.
Schedulers are still spending a lot of time filling open shifts manually.
Google sheets and drive also lack the messaging features and you’ll need to keep your own separate sheet for time off requests. This manual process can be tedious to compile and keep up to date, as well as feel disorganized as your staff may have to change their availability after you create the schedule.
Sheets & drive also lack the scalability that many pharmacies are looking for. Being able to only see one pharmacy, instead of your entire workforce at a city, state, regional, or national level can give you an incomplete picture of your workforce as a whole.
3. Pharmacy Scheduling Software
Finding the best pharmacy scheduling software for your organization is the number one way to keep your pharmacy schedule organized and optimized. Look for software that provides everything you need to create an effective schedule all on one platform. This includes tracking time-off requests, employee hours, credentials, and shift trade requests.
By creating a pharmacist schedule template, you can have your shift blocks and times already created for you. Utilizing rules, you can see at a glance which pharmacists are available to work, and schedule them into a shift.
Likewise, if a regular pharmacist is unavailable due to vacations or leave, you can backfill your pharmacy staffing by utilizing a float pool of on-call or salaried pharmacists.
Make sure to look for a pharmacy scheduling software that offers robust features for your unique needs.
Pharmacy Software Features You Can’t Afford To Miss
The best pharmacy scheduling software streamlines the entire employee scheduling process. Comprehensive features integrated into the scheduling software pays for itself and allows you to take back your time. It goes beyond simply scheduling and provides extensive solutions for employee management.
When you need to communicate with staff, you need to do it now. Turn to your pharmacy scheduling software as the primary method to send alerts and messages throughout your organization. Find schedule coverage as quickly as possible by sending out hot or urgent shift requests via text and/or email. Or, send store status updates due to emergencies or treacherous weather. Communication is key to a successful organization and your scheduling software has you covered.
With an integrated messaging system, communication between all staff, including management, is extremely user friendly and time-stamped for transparency. Covering open shifts is much more efficient because you can quickly see who’s available and qualified, allowing you to send a message out to only those who are. Your ROI for implementing pharmacy scheduling software is all thanks to organized staff optimization and a boost in overall employee morale.
The centralized scheduler can track productivity and tell when extra or overlapping coverage is needed at a busy store. Double coverage can then be scheduled so a float or extra pharmacist can do inventory and assist in filling additional prescriptions. In addition, a scheduler can also easily see when people punch in and out, or travel to a different store for a shift.
Set Schedule Templates
The ability to create set schedules that can be customized can be a real times saver. This feature allows centralized schedulers to build and store a recurring template by store. They can make modifications to the schedule based on needs like medical leave, vacations, training, and meetings. The shift then opens up for backfilling. The central scheduler can fill the open shifts by using the float pool and optimizing salaried pharmacists. This helps eliminate the need for agency pharmacists and cuts costly overtime.
Scheduling software with a gap reporting feature is especially handy for a centralized scheduler. It allows them to run gap reporting with the click of a mouse to determine where there are holes in the schedule for pharmacists and techs. They can then move resources based on credentials and schedule availability.
Managing Pharmacist Float Pools
Float pools can do wonders for providing shift coverage when needed. Scheduling software allows a centralized scheduler to cover vacations, medical leave, and other openings easily. With a click of the mouse, they can send float staff to any store. The employee will receive an automatic message documenting the float so they know where and when to report.
Payroll compiling is another handy feature of pharmacy scheduling software. Some companies still use the long, drawn-out manual process of trying to compare payroll rates and laws via Excel spreadsheet. Scheduling software automates the tedious task with just a few keystrokes. It can also be configured to be integrated into your existing payroll software.
You can’t just have a store go dark when a shift isn’t filled. You need to find coverage as quickly as possible. Scheduling software with integrated messaging allows you to send out hot or urgent shift requests via text and or email. Messages are sent to all qualified and available employee, preventing schedulers and managers from being tied to a phone all day while trying to find coverage. This is especially handy when a pharmacy manager needs to report openings for techs.
Your scheduling software can be used for all of your communication needs, from meeting notices to emergency store closing information. Using a message board for each employee, admins can send messages when time off is approved/denied, a change is made to their schedule, and any other important employment and schedule information. This makes messaging effortless and avoids the risk of an employee not getting a message. Employees can easily log on and check messages from any connected device.
How to Schedule More than One Location
Multi-location employee scheduling can be a daunting task. Juggling a large number of employees and locations can be overwhelming. However, it is possible to achieve an organized scheduling process for more than one pharmacy location.
To keep all locations organized, you will need to set standard practices for scheduling that all locations must follow. This will include time-off requests, overtime approvals, and swapping shifts. Keeping the rules consistent will ensure everyone is on the same page and will prevent avoidable scheduling errors regardless of work location.
Utilizing Workforce Management Software Can Be A Huge Help In Balancing Schedules At Multiple Locations.
It will track everything for you and can easily solve the hassles and frustrations of it, including schedule overlaps.
The best scheduling software will notify you of scheduling errors before they arise. Plus, management teams and employees at all locations will be connected to schedule updates in real-time. Utilizing rule-based templates and features will help you get all of your schedules done quickly and far enough in advance that upcoming scheduling conflicts can be addressed with time to spare.
Scheduling Pharmacy Technicians
Pharmacy technicians are an extremely valuable part of the pharmacy team. They handle order intake, order products, prepare prescriptions for pharmacist verification, and ensure a high level of customer service. Pharmacy techs make a difference and serve as the right hand of the managing pharmacist. They often perform key safety checks, so the right medications are given to the proper patients. Without them, important information could fall between the cracks and there could be big delays in patients receiving necessary medication. Your store managers are tasked with maintaining coverage in your store and finding the right pharmacy technician work schedule that fits their store.
The problem: there are not enough pharmacy techs to go around.
How do you address this problem?
Utilize smarter scheduling.
Get Help for Your Pharmacy Store Managers
Pharmacy technicians are typically scheduled by a store pharmacy manager. However, using pharmacy scheduling software, your store manager can communicate the labor force needs of their store to the centralized scheduler. Communication between the pharmacy store manager and the centralized scheduler allows your store managers to request and utilize pharmacy technician resources available in your area all in one platform. Your pharmacy manager can continue to take the lead, but now has the regional support of your centralized scheduler.
By utilizing rules within your pharmacy scheduling software, you can easily allow your pharmacy managers to request pharmacy tech coverage for certain dates and times for various reasons. You can limit your pharmacy store managers to only see and request for pharmacy techs, making sure that they can only see their store and techs based on rules you set in place.
Enforcing date restrictions will help keep your overtime in check. Your pharmacy store managers will request for coverage a predetermined time in advance. Consider 6 or 8 weeks in advance. This way, the centralized scheduler can look for resources and help fill the coverage gap by finding techs who may not be optimized or utilizing pharmacy technicians from the float pool. Using these resources, outside of an urgent or hot shift, will help you minimize potential overtime shifts when it’s not necessary.
Urgent/Hot Shift Requests
Urgent and critical needs can also be communicated and seen by techs available to take on additional shifts. Instead of the store manager spending the day on the phone trying to call someone in for a shift, the messaging feature in your scheduling software can communicate the need to your techs, allowing for them to instantly pick up the shift.
Depending on your rules, you can send shift opportunities to a select group, maybe a group of qualified floats, or only your more seasoned techs to make sure you are getting the most out of any additional overtime or incentive pay.
Optimizing Your Pharmacy Techs
Take advantage of the gap reports inside your pharmacy scheduling software and make sure that your pharmacy techs are optimized to work the hours they are required. At a glance, it will inform you if an employee is under their scheduled hours and you have the ability to schedule them for more hours to meet their required hours before scheduling someone else for an overtime shift.
Tech Scheduling Feature
When you allow your pharmacy managers to request coverage at their location, it allows for greater satisfaction at the local level, and reduces the time that manager is off the floor doing scheduling duties. Requests are still funneled to the centralized scheduler for oversight and management of overtime and optimization across stores at a regional or state level.
Get your pharmacy managers back out on the floor and out of the office by adding pharmacy tech scheduling into your pharmacy scheduling software.
Pharmacy Staffing: New Grad Pharmacists
Contrary to what universities are telling entering students, there is currently no shortage of pharmacists. According to a recent article in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 14% of pharmacy school graduates are unable to find a job. Add that to an uncertain future of pharmacy due to high prescription costs, Medicare budget cuts, and hospital closings. This leaves many pharmacies already cutting pharmacist hours while still collecting resumes from new pharmacy grads.
These graduates have become an industry dilemma.
Newly graduated pharmacists are well-trained, have worked as interns while in school, and may just be waiting to pass their licensing boards. You might need them to fill a pharmacist opening someday, but you don’t have an opening now.
How Can You Utilize New Grads In Your Current Pharmacy Staffing?
Use them to fill in as pharmacy technicians.
Most pharmacies are short on techs. New pharmacy graduates can be a big help. Pharmacy school internship requirements are no different than a tech’s job description. Many newly graduated pharmacists will view a tech position as a way to get their foot in the door.
Current Employee Bidding for New Career Opportunities
Consider allowing current employees to bid on open positions before it is opened up to the public. By instituting a bidding policy, new pharmacy graduates will be encouraged to stay on as techs or start as techs. They will get to know the managers and the pharmacy’s policies.
Why is this important to consider?
- Internal bidding can be cheaper than posting externally for a position.
- No need for advertisements or postings on external job sites.
- Save on training and orientation.
- Better job satisfaction and employee retention.
- Fill your positions faster, with better candidate feedback.
Feedback Survey Feature
Creating a management feedback survey can be easily done with pharmacy scheduling software.
Using the survey feature in your scheduling software allows managers to evaluate and give feedback on specific new grads over time and hire the best fit when a position opens.
Say you have 25 graduate pharmacists, after each shift they work, your scheduling software will send an automated survey to the pharmacy store manager. The evaluation then downloads into excel. Then the manager can see feedback on specific grads over time and hire the best fit when a position opens. The software easily allows you to see the feedback and help you hire the cream of the crop.
This also works well for those pharmacists who may be in your float pool or PRN, waiting for a permanent store placement. Using this feature, you can get feedback on graduate pharmacists, float pool, and other potential hires, all saved in the cloud for easy access from any device
By integrating survey features for candidates into your employee scheduling software, you’ll be able to narrow your candidate pool more efficiently.
District managers and HR teams across the company will be able to see the feedback provided by store managers prior to hiring a candidate for a permanent position. As a result, you will be able to readily hire an amazing pharmacist that is already quite familiar with your company.
How to Add Value to Your Pharmacy
With mergers and acquisitions, the role of pharmacists and pharmacies is changing. Pharmacies need to stay on top of medical trends and determine the best way to incorporate and capitalize on them. This should include a strong focus on customer needs.
Most pharmacies are already offering health screenings and vaccinations on-site. Some also offer consulting, support services, and education programs for patients with chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Now is the time for pharmacists to come out from behind the counter and solidify their roles as experts in medications and pharmaceuticals.
Adding Clinical Services
As pharmacists’ roles evolve, it is more important than ever for you to encourage your pharmacy staff to seek out professional development opportunities and explore the role of your patient services within your pharmacy.
Changes are on the horizon. Pharmacists in states like California, Montana, North Carolina, and Florida are already able to obtain mid-level provider or advanced practice provider status and prescribe some medications to patients. By allowing pharmacists prescriptive authority, pharmacies who may be struggling can see a way out by introducing patient services and small clinics to their menu of services.
By using pharmacy scheduling software, you can keep track of these credentials inside your program to help schedule your pharmacists for different roles and duties. Your pharmacy will be one that customers turn to for more than just their prescriptions, and that’s good news for your bottom line.
A recent survey of pharmacy customers shows they want shorter wait times, greater expertise, and more personal attention. Giving your customers what they need when they need it will keep them coming back.
Offering more services helps your customers do more with one stop. It will not only add value to your pharmacy but forge long-term relationships with your customers.
Optimize Pharmacy Scheduling with the Best Employee Scheduling Software
You need a better way. Get the most out of your pharmacy staff, pharmacists, pharmacy grads, and your pharmacy techs by utilizing pharmacy scheduling software. Optimizing your staff at the local level and sharing resources at the regional level has never been easier.
Schedule360’s award winning employee scheduling software helps pharmacies organize their workforce into one cohesive and configurable online solution.
Schedule360’s workforce management software is the scheduling solution you need for your pharmacy. It streamlines and automates the entire scheduling process and more. Credentials are cataloged so you always have the right staff members working the right shifts in the right locations at the right times. And the cloud-based system allows you and your employees 24/7 access to all schedules from anywhere on any device.
Additionally, there is a pharmacy tech scheduling feature available at the store level for managers, and a survey feature for new pharmacy grads to help you hire the best pharmacists now and in the future.
Our employee scheduling software is highly configurable and can be tailored to fit your pharmacy’s unique needs. Contact us for a customized demo of our software to see just how effective our solutions can be for your pharmacy. We know scheduling, and we understand the unique needs of pharmacies. We can help you optimize your staff, organize and simplify your scheduling process, and set you up for a successful future. Experience the Schedule360 difference today.