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If you’re looking to start or revamp your pharmacy layout, you’re probably wondering what’s the design my customers will benefit from the most. How much space should I designate for OTC and how much for the pharmacy workflow? Do I want to have an open floor plan with a waiting area or isles of products for my customers? Let’s discuss.

We often receive questions from our clients about their pharmacy layout and how to go about setting up their business. We always tell them your pharmacy should be designed based on your workflow and location. Does your pharmacy offer compounding? If so, we need to design a compounding lab or area. What about packaging? Before deciding your pharmacy design you will need to consider a few items.

What is your pharmacy workflow?

The first step we recommend is deciding on a workflow that fits your pharmacy. Usually you have two options: “Linear” (pass everything to the right or left) or “Pass to the Middle”. Some pharmacy systems work well with “Linear” while others work better with “Pass to the Middle”. This decision will guide the cabinetry placement process. If you are a busy pharmacy you may want to consider the “Pass to the Middle” approach. With the “Pass to the Middle” design, you can prioritize your main bench for filling and verification only. Data entry can be done in the back of the store, at the register/drop off or even remotely.

If you are starting a pharmacy or trying to save some tech hours “Linear” may be the way to go. With a “Linear” workflow a technician or pharmacist wears multiple hats. A technician may not be tied to just dispensing but also data entry and register. This is by far the most popular workflow I see in community pharmacies. Once you decide on your workflow you can move on to the next design step.

What pharmacy services are offered?

If your pharmacy is more than just a retail pharmacy you will need to accommodate that. For example, if you’re offering dose packaging or automation where does this go? Maybe the pharmacy doesn’t offer those services now but will it in the future? Here are some services and items to consider planning enough space for:

  • Drive thru service – Do we need another register near drive thru?
  • Compounding – Non sterile and sterile lab needed?
  • Packaging – Enough space to layout packaging for patients.
  • Specialty – Any future plans to get into specialty medications?
  • Drug check in – This comes everyday, need space to check the order
  • Break area
  • Office or consultation room

Deciding on OTC space

How much OTC (over the counter) space is needed? Usually not a lot. We try to limit how much OTC space is available for the pharmacy. Most pharmacies make a lot from the OTC items unless they are in a unique situation and residents of the city don’t have many options for basic OTC items. For example: Unless the pharmacy is in a college town or small rural area, your OTC should be relatively small.

Think about it. The larger the OTC area the more inventory you need to stock. You DO NOT want empty shelving as you often see in community pharmacies. Sometimes OTC products expire before they are bought and have to be thrown away. Try to minimize the OTC area, maybe have some hard to find vitamins and basic OTC items but keep it simple.

Waiting Area

This is a must have and should be more than just 2 or 3 chairs. Try to find a space next to the “Pick Up” area for a nice cozy waiting area. Adding a TV with some free coffee will often improve the customer experience in your pharmacy. Let’s be honest, waiting for your medications isn’t something anyone likes to do. With a nice waiting area your patients can relax a bit and wait for their name to be called.

Finding a Pharmacy Design Expert

There are a few really good and experienced pharmacy designers who install across the country. The business I recommend to my clients are: Retail Design Inc and The Pharmacy Design Group. A pharmacy design expert will visit your pharmacy and design a blueprint or mock up for your review. They should adhere to ADA and HIPAA compliance and have great recommendations about cabinet placement, shelving, drug bays, OTC and more.

Need additional help?

ConfigRX guides clients through designing their pharmacy layout to best meet their business needs. We have helped over 50 pharmacies across the country design their pharmacy. We invite you to check out our “Start A Pharmacy” package that includes our pharmacy design service. Our clients also receive discounts from various pharmacy design companies. If you have additional questions about pharmacy design or your pharmacies layout, contact us.