Pharmacy Workflow Improvements: Insights from the Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture 

In the summer of 2023, the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba (CPhM) conducted a Community Pharmacy Survey on Patient Safety Culture™ (SOPS®) to gather insights from community pharmacy staff about patient safety and safety culture in their workplaces. The results, published in a 2023 CPhM Newsletter, highlighted several areas for improvement, particularly in community pharmacy workflow. 

An efficient pharmacy workflow is crucial for providing timely and safe prescription services. It also enhances staff satisfaction and reduces stress. Since workflow processes are unique to each pharmacy—depending on the services offered, the number and type of staff, and the pharmacy layout—any pharmacy can benefit from the following six steps to optimize their workflow. 

1. Evaluate the Current Workflow

Create a flowchart outlining current processes, from drop-off to patient counselling. Consider these common workflow issues: 

  • Waiting: Are staff members waiting for others to complete tasks? Identify where these delays occur. 
  • Walking: How far do staff need to walk to access inventory or fill prescriptions? 
  • Overprocessing: Are patient notes documented both manually and electronically, causing redundancy? 
  • Bottlenecks: Are there issues, such as drug plan problems, that stall the process? 

2. Streamline Movement

Minimize the number of steps required for different stages of the prescription process. Consider the location of items needed to complete tasks efficiently. 

3. Implement Stations

Create dedicated stations with assigned staff. Determine the most effective placement and assign appropriate staff, such as pharmacy assistants, technicians, or pharmacists. 

4. Consider Automation

Automation can enhance workflow efficiency and safety, freeing up time for additional pharmacy services. Evaluate the feasibility of automation for your pharmacy. 

5. Practice the Workflow

Involve pharmacy staff in the implementation of changes. Make small adjustments, educate staff, and practice the new workflow to identify and address potential issues. 

6. Review Processes Regularly

Continuously assess the new workflow, seeking feedback and suggestions from staff for ongoing improvements. 


A poorly designed workflow can lead to increased medication errors, longer patient wait times, and heightened staff frustration and stress. As pharmacies acquire new technology, hire staff with different skills, or expand services, regular reviews of the workflow can significantly improve efficiency and safety. 

By following these steps, community pharmacies can create a safer, more efficient, and more satisfying work environment for both staff and patients. 

Latest Posts

Two pharmacists engaged in a discussion while standing in a pharmacy, with one pharmacist holding a tablet and both individuals focused on the screen. The pharmacy environment includes shelves of medication in the background, conveying a scene of professional collaboration and communication.
Safety Culture

Strategies for Enhancing Medication Safety Culture Through Incident Reporting

Explore strategies for enhancing medication safety culture through incident reporting in community pharmacies. Discover how to craft effective incident reports, prioritize system-based solutions, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Learn from ISMP Canada’s analysis of medication incidents and gain insights to prevent future errors. Empower your pharmacy team with actionable tips and resources for promoting patient safety.

Read More »