Considering pharmacy workflow in the context of Australian community pharmacy: a pilot time and motion study
Background: Given time pressures on primary care physicians, utilising pharmacists for chronic disease management is of great interest. However, limited data are available on the current workflow in community pharmacies to guide these discussions.
Objective: This study aimed to test the feasibility of collecting workflow data from Australian community pharmacies using the Work Observation Method By Activity Timing (WOMBAT) software and provide preliminary data on Australian pharmacy workflow.
Methods: Data were collected from three pharmacies and four variables were recorded: what the pharmacist did, with whom, where and how. All tasks were timed and data were analysed to identify total number of tasks, median time per task, proportion of time per task, and common task combinations.
Results: Pharmacists' main tasks consisted of counselling, dispensing and management activities (27%, 21% and 17% respectively of the overall number of tasks) and these tasks also took the majority of their time. Tasks were frequent but short, with the average time per task ranging from 0.55 to 8.46 min and most time was spent in areas without the capacity for patient interaction (51% in the dispensing/compounding area and 6% in the back office).
Conclusions: Pharmacies are dynamic environments with the average task taking 1–2 min. Longer interventions may not be easily integrated into current pharmacy workflow.