Let’s face it, pharmacists are time-crunched. Not a day goes by in my practice where I don’t wish for more time to complete the ever growing pile of work in front of me.
By Carlene Oleksyn, BSP Pharm, CTH
Illustration by Martin Bregman
Some of you from the “pre-computer” generation, such as myself, may remember that when we were in grade school, the promise of computers and “robots” on the horizon touted a future of an easier work life. Disappointingly, this has not been the case. While computers have made some things easier (e.g. no more typewriters for prescription labels!), it has also meant an overwhelming amount of information to sift through. So how do we simplify things and make technology work for us in our clinical practice?
While pharmacy software has continued to evolve in terms of dispensing, pharmacists are moving away from technical skills to being more engaged with patients, and this means needing to access different types of tools quickly. When I’m upfront assessing a patient’s drug therapy or creating a care plan or medication review, I need fast access to things like therapeutic guidelines, risk calculators and drug dosing tools. I don’t have time to google and search for what I’m looking for.
Here are my top three tips for using technology to create efficiency in clinical practice:
1- Clean up the desk top. Nothing is more frustrating than having a desktop so full or cluttered that you cannot find the icons you need. Use folders and a clean-looking background to simplify each station.
2- Be consistent. With multiple stations and multiple users in a pharmacy, each terminal can have different shortcuts and book marks and icons. To make things easier for my pharmacists, I strive to have all our terminals consistent. That means being able to access the same short cuts, icons and tools in the same place no matter what station they are using. It saves an immense amount of time if pharmacists can find, in mere seconds, the CDA chart for renal dosing or a Framingham calculation tool, or any other resource or reference they need. We use Dropbox to achieve this, though it is by no means the only tool that can accomplish this task. All our references and shortcuts are available in the one location and categorized according to therapeutic area. Pharmacists and technicians can also easily add documents and references and havethem appear on all terminals for all team members.
3- Use technology in patient care. Pulling out the iPad or tablet to show a patient a quick video (for example, on a device technique or to reinforce education) can buy valuable time for things like documenting the patient encounter or completing the paperwork for a service. Make sure you watch any videos first to ensure they reinforce the message you want to get across and are reflective of best practice.
Carlene Oleksyn is owner of Meridian Pharmacy in Stony Plain, Alberta, and owner and director of the Stony Plain Travel Clinic.