Analysis of Pharmacy Technician Workflow and the Identification of Opportunities for Improvement
Chabria, Amrita 1986-
MetadataShow full item record
PURPOSE: The objective of this study was to identify opportunities for pharmacy technician workflow improvement using the principles of Lean Six Sigma. The impact of this study may streamline pharmacy technician workflow as well as eliminate/consolidate tasks resulting in increased efficiency while maintaining quality. METHODS: This study took place at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital (SLEH) in Houston, TX. The focus group was used to identify the problem. Two methods for data collection were utilized to establish baseline information; automated information and observational time and motion studies. Observational and automated data was presented to the focus group and the focus group was responsible for recommending and piloting changes. The focus group also identified pharmacy technician tasks that needed improvement as well as relate these tasks back to the voice of the customer and task purpose. Data was presented to the focus group and the focus group was responsible for recommending and piloting changes. The suggested changes were implemented in a pilot study. RESULTS: The focus group identified “ordered medications not loaded” (OMNL) as an area for workflow improvement. OMNL cycle time was defined as the time from when the user logs in the Acudose machine to the point the user completed the OMNL process. There were five parts to OMNL which were conducted at various times throughout the day: restocking, pulling, assigning, unassigning and loading. Time studies were conducted and technicians were shadowed on all three shifts. Observational and automated data findings were presented to focus group. These studies found technicians spent approximately 69.5 hours a week on OMNL for 1096 line items. On average, a patient had an active order for this medication for 2 days. The focus group recommended two changes to the OMNL process. The first change was to consolidate the three aspects of OMNL to one step. The second was to eliminate loading scheduled daily medications during OMNL. These changes were piloted and implemented which resulted in reducing OMNL by 39.1% and a net time savings of 33.6 hours a week. Although the cart fill volume did increase, there was no impact on missing doses. CONCLUSION: The application of Lean Six Sigma can improve operational workflow of pharmacy technicians as well as reduce waste as seen in this study. The SLEH should continue to utilize these concepts to identify further opportunities for pharmacy technician workflow improvement and reduction in waste.