What Everyone In Pharmacy Complains About
Corporate has cut hours, giving pharmacies bare-bones resources in the fight for patient safety and outcomes.
Pharmacist wages frozen, bonuses non-existent, no staff left to ring out patients or fill the hundreds of prescriptions left bleeding in the queue for weeks on end.
Pharmacies are turning into slaughterhouses, with the poor PharmD at the bevel.
Will there be any tech hours left to help you do your job and protect patients from harm?
What’s the Retail Pharmacy landscape going to look like when there’s no people left to run the pharmacy?
You can’t help but feel your impending doom and the current crisis the Retail Pharmacy world is going through.
How can a corporation be so ruthless even when they make SO much money?
It turns out, this is only one side of the story here.
Where Do Hours Come From?
Since the beginning of the corporate pharmacy’s birth, clinicians have been fighting corporate, demanding more time and resources.
They demand more pay, fair work, and safer work environments.
But what we don’t see and hear is the whole business picture.
Pharmacists and technicians around the country all whimper over the same message:
The technician hours are not enough!
But what happens when we lift the veil of the pharmacy business underpinnings?
Where do these hours come from?
Who comes up with these numbers that we all have to follow so religiously?
All Budgets Are Created Equal
We all know they come from corporate pocketbooks.
There’s no surprise there.
But some pharmacists refuse to believe that all stores are given a budget based off their sales and volume.
They refuse to believe that corporate factors in past and current trends into the calculations to fund pharmacies.
These cynics and naysayers let ignorance tell them that technician hours are cut if they don’t use them all.
That no matter how much they perform, they will never have enough resources to do their jobs safely.
But the reality is: a universal algorithm applies to all pharmacies.
All stores are treated equally, no ifs, ands, or buts.
It’s their money, so they get to decide.
But there is also an unspoken rule that few pharmacists understand:
Sometimes, You Have To Spend Money To Make Money
Sometimes, the white coat is too busy thinking clinically to see the whole business picture.
Budgets are hard and fast rules when you don’t make them.
But when you make budgets with excess dollars (saving or profiting), you can create the opportunity to spend hours (for the right business reason).
Hence, technician hours can also come from Pharmacy Margins.
What if we shifted resources around?
Think about Expense Control in other buckets.
You have store supply budgets, inventory write-offs, repairs, operating costs, etc. that you can manage.
The more money you save in these areas, the more you theoretically can spend on technician payroll (again for the right business reasons).
Lastly, think about Bottom line Profit.
Making all the budgets consistently drives a better bottom line.
You can’t overspend in all categories, fall short of sales goals, and expect to do well after all expenses are paid.
Netting a positive bottom line (more than what was budgeted) gives you some flexibility to spend after all is said and done.
Banked excess money for the company last two months?
Maybe you can overspend to on-board a new trainee, prepare for a new program roll-out, or give your pharmacy a physical brand make-over.
But the theme here is that you must make sound business decisions when you’re spending someone else’s money.
Think Like A Corporate PharmD
The Pharmacy Enterprise is a system of moving parts, and the business metrics are diagnostics that tell us a story.
When one organ faces dysfunction or disease, symptoms manifest.
In the case of our pharmacy businesses, the symptoms are poor working environments, patient risk, and burned out pharmacists.
Why are these things happening?
What is the root cause, and how do we uncover it?
That is where the diagnostic “lab values” come in.
Use the business metrics to pinpoint what systems are affected.
Then, leverage your [human] resources to treat the disease.
Our Profit and Loss reports are the reference ranges that we need to use to make sound business decisions.
You already know how to do all this.
You’ve done it for years in pharmacy school.
You do it every day when you wear the white coat.
So, flip the switch and think like the Corporate PharmD that you are.
Your patients and technicians need you.
Let’s take back your autonomy and get more technician hours so you can protect your patients and keep the Oath you promised.
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we dive into the best ways to analyze scripts, how to justify overspending, and protecting service and patient safety.