What are back up pharmacy services?

Back up pharmacy services are the plans, policies / procedures, people, and products necessary to provide continuous service to your pharmacy clients after normal business hours.  At OCPS, we refer to back up services as the 5 P’s, and they are indispensable!   Let’s look at each ‘p’ in detail:

Plans:  This is the ‘big picture’.  What is the plan once the pharmacy has closed for the day? How will your business still address issues that arise after normal operating hours? Will you staff your pharmacy 24 hours a day so you are available to catch the middle of the night new admission, are you hoping no emergencies will arise, or do you have another plan?

Policies / Procedures:  Assuming you have a plan, does everyone know what that plan is? Will you handle routine refill requests differentlythan new orders for narcotics?  Will you ask callers to hold their questions until the pharmacy reopens? What is an emergency and what is not?  Specific after hours policies and procedures are vital.

People:  Who is handling your pharmacy’s after hours emergency calls? Are your staff pharmacists required to be ‘on call’ in addition to working their routine shifts?  Do your clients receive the same level of care from each of your pharmacists? Is the pharmacy manager responsible for responding to all emergency pharmacy requests? Have you thought about the benefits a dedicated on call pharmacist could bring to your business?

Products:  How will you address product needs after hours?  Do you have a system in place to provide emergency medications to your clients quickly?  Do you dispense medications solely from your own pharmacy or do you contract with another provider?

One more ‘p’ to consider, performance.

Performance:  This is probably the most important ‘p’ of all!  You may have your action plan in place, with people aware of policies and procedures, but if your plan performs poorly, then you need to rethink things! Don’t let your business suffer due to poor after hours services or systems which are draining your valuable resources…. consider a change!

Back up pharmacy services are a vital component to maintaining a high level of patient care. Regardless of the time of day, your clients demand access to a pharmacist and to medications.  A great back up plan may be the one distinction that sets you apart from your competition.  Consider how valuable a great back up system would be to your business, and how OCPS can help.

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