America’s most common pastime- waiting in line. Wating in lines at retail pharmacy, is a frustrating yet inescapable part of our lives.
So what is queueing theory? Simply put, queuing theory is the statistical study of queues or waiting lines. When applying queuing theory, a model is being constructed that predicts the queue lengths and the waiting time. It tries to utilize mathematical performance measure and statistical models to assess and improve customer-flow by applying efficient queuing management systems.
In retail pharmacy, queuing management systems can evaluate a whole host of factors such as patient waiting time, prescription fill-time, technicians and pharmacists staffing levels, patients counseling times etc. Queuing theory applications are of particular benefit in retail pharmacies since they facilitate high-volume outpatient workload and also customers looking to get their timely prescriptions filled-in.
Retail pharmacy practicing queue management can improve customer satisfaction while reducing the waiting-time of the customers. In one publication, Operations Management for Pharmacists, the authors suitably acknowledged the positive impact of using advanced mathematical models used in queuing theory as highly effective. In other practices by Donehow and his colleagues, he addresses how prescription queues and prescription fill times immensely improved by using queue management systems and recommended that it be readily adopted by retail pharmacies to reorganize the customer flow and channelize their businesses more efficiently. One other publication by Boyce and his colleagues’ sought to identify the impacts of computerized waiting time models on order turnarounds in healthcare. The emphasis was however made on retail pharmacies and how they had a competitive edge when it came to digital signage systems as hospitals don’t consider it a necessity.
Nevertheless, the most important and attractive benefit of applying queue management systems in retail pharmacies is to reduce customer wait time and maximize staff effectiveness.
In nearly all studies today relating to queue management systems in retail pharmacy, queuing systems are employed to assess relationships among the prescription dispensing processes, customer waiting in line, customers in the waiting areas, number of staff members, and the time taken to serve each customer. The major factors that influence or enhance efficiently in retail pharmacies include sequencing of work, arrival pattern of prescriptions in the pharmacy and the total number of staff members present. All these and many factors, if taken note of, assist in building customer retention and retain competitive advantage in the pharmacy industry.
The overall goal is to increase the level of satisfaction and find means to sustain it. But that doesn’t only mean the satisfaction levels of the customers alone. This involves all the relevant groups such as customers, management and employees. This can easily be achieved by putting into practice the theories of queuing in retail pharmacies.