The key to a successful pharmacy layout is ensuring that the layout is designed to promote customer satisfaction and appeal, as well as efficiency for employees. Improved productivity makes it easier for customers to get what they want in less time, and it takes less time for employees to perform their jobs effectively and promptly. If you are unsure about the overall efficiency of your current pharmacy layout, consider the following five factors to help you in your determination. An experienced pharmacy planning consultant can guide you through the proper steps so that nothing is overlooked.
#1: How much space do you need?
While pharmacy planning is complex, it can be broken down into smaller segments to help you better understand what works–and what doesn’t. One of the most significant factors to consider is how much space will be required to accommodate everything inside. It is important that your list will be all inclusive, including the toilet(s), storage, patient services room(s), office(s), etc. in addition to the dispensing and sales area. An experience pharmacy design consultant will request an itemized list and begin allocating the proper space for each. If you plan a compounding lab, that will require extra space due to the new USP800 regulations for non-sterile compounding.
#2: Why does the shape of your pharmacy matter?
The shape of the space will have a huge impact on the layout. For example, a 40 ft x 50 ft is more desirable than a 20 ft x 100 ft space while both have the same 2,000 sq. ft. Many states are now requiring customer accessibility to a toilet. That presents a challenge in a narrow width because you do not want a patient traversing through the dispensing area or other secure area that conflicts with the Board of Pharmacy restrictions. Furthermore, a prescription department that is long and narrow can hinder proper work flow requiring more steps by the staff. Many new pharmacies are located in shopping centers where the dimensions are not always ideal. The Landlord wants to have as many store fronts as possible so many new pharmacies have no choice. We suggest a space at one end if possible. We have been able to overcome some of the disadvantages through experimentation.
#3: How important is the layout or floor plan?
Once the space has been determined, the very first step is to create a detailed functional floor plan or Layout. its’ counterpart is Design which will be discussed later. Layout is designating every square foot to the best advantage. A grid style layout is much better than utilizing angles and curves shown and promoted in many websites. Most new pharmacies are much smaller than their predecessors and it becomes more critical that the space is used wisely. A grid-style layout is placing most everything either parallel or perpendicular to the exterior walls. Over-use of angles can waste as much as one third of the available space. Curves have never proved to be worth the extra cost and the limitations they have when it’s time to expand or make simple adjustments. The layout should show even the least significant items such as a shredder, storage shelving, office equipment, break room, etc. Leaving open spaces or rooms make one think that the pharmacy planner did not bother to consider the best utilization of each room and department.
#4: What OTC departments should I include?
The ratio of Rx volume to non-Rx volume has changed drastically over the past few decades. Fifty years ago, the average independent pharmacy Rx to non-Rx volume was about 50/50. Today it is around 93/07 with some exceptions. The percentages revealed include some very large pharmacies that continue to do business. The decision should relate to the owner’s personal passion, the available space and having a department that clearly differentiates your pharmacy from the competition. My personal opinion is to concentrate on health-related departments and services. Most new independent pharmacies are much smaller than their predecessors so I would utilize the space wisely by adding a large nutritional department and get proper training on the advantages of specific products and how they correlate with their prescriptions. I am not a huge proponent of displaying dollar items, a small gift department or other category that may give the perception that your pharmacy is just a smaller version of the chain drug store.
#5: How much attention should I give to design effects?
Layout and Design have often been used with the same meaning. However, as noted earlier, design pertains to aesthetics or what the store looks like. Layout is more important to get right at the beginning because it becomes more difficult to make changes later while design pertains to colors and the appearance of the non-selling areas. We suggest using pastel colors on the walls as it gives the appearance of having more space while dark colors make the space appear smaller. Dark colors can be used effectively as trim or accent such as letters, graphics, etc. Spending a lot on décor may be a waste of money without making a contribution. In fact, a boutique appearance can be counter-productive. The consumer has certain expectations of how a pharmacy should look. An inviting atmosphere drawing the customers’ attention to the merchandise rather than a colorful floor or bright colored walls is more desirable. If using tile, I suggest a lighter color with a subdued pattern while either carpet or wood should be a medium range, not too dark or too light. The bottom line is to avoid flooring or painted walls that draw attention.
In conclusion, there are many facets that should be addressed simultaneously so that everything inside the four walls work in unison. There is one best layout and design for each pharmacy providing efficiency and an attractive interior that encompasses all the right things that work for you and not against you.