Investing in digital learning can help to maximise team efficiencies, says Mukesh Lad.

Is your pharmacy operating as efficiently as possible? Or are you encouraging patients to come back later, but still asking them to wait while you try to locate their script? Prescriptions not ready for collection, queues at your counter, stock control in disarray and untidy shelves are all signs that you need to be working smarter.

It shouldn’t take more than five minutes to dispense the average script, not an unreasonable wait for patients. Achieving this means they are less likely to go elsewhere, which is the last thing your pharmacy needs in the current climate.

Even if you’re convinced you already operate with maximum efficiency, you can still improve. It’s always possible to find spare capacity, especially around your dispensing process. Whilst recognising that pharmacists are under constant pressure to focus on accuracy and checking, I know we could still put our clinical skills to better use for our patients, our business, and our personal satisfaction.

The scope to improve uptake of pharmacy services is underlined in at least one region of the country where only 285 out of the 400 possible MURs a year are being delivered. Furthermore, many of the contractors aren’t delivering any NMS or NHS flu vaccinations. That’s a loss of over £15k to each contractor, and more than £700k in lost pharmacy revenue in this region alone. No independent pharmacy can afford to overlook an opportunity to increase the uptake of paid-for clinical services. Not only does it affect the bottom line; it also has a negative effect on the future commissioning of pharmacy services.

For your pharmacy to become more efficient, it’s important your workforce develops with you. Staff need to maximise the use of PMR systems. This will allow them to identify new service opportunities and learn new skills. It’s no surprise that current health policy calls for staff development to be underpinned by quality education and training to support individual careers as well as the delivery of excellent patient services.


Taking any employee out of action for face- to-face training isn’t always an efficient use of time, but there is now a suitable alternative. The latest online learning systems combine significant learning advantages with easy access for your whole team.

With 75% of UK businesses – especially the public service sector – using this type of training, it’s high time pharmacy updated its thinking. Multi-media e-learning is one of the highest performing training tools, particularly for specific learning such as systems functionality, process, and procedure. It’s ideal for pharmacy operations, allowing individuals to learn at their own pace and revisit complicated processes time and again.

E-Learning can be done at a time and place to suit everyone, and those who work part time or irregular hours will still benefit from the same access to upskilling. Core training, best practice advice and new concepts can be communicated quickly and easily, and team members are more likely to remember information by putting it into practice straight away. 

The most immediate benefit is the return on investment for pharmacy owners. By eliminating the expenses attached to traditional learning, the cost of online CPD learning is dramatically reduced.

To support operational change, my own pharmacy group has been working closely with Positive Solutions who have recently launched their first e-learning platform. As a leading IT provider, they’ve put digital learning at the forefront of our sector in 2018.

All my pharmacy teams are now achieving effective training, enhancing their knowledge base and skills, and increasing motivation. The platform is designed to be used by all the team, whether dispensing or healthcare beginners, pharmacists or locums. Positive eLearning is a web-based platform accessible to staff when and where they want, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.


There’s a large archive of flexible video modules aligned to pharmacy CPD, providing real-time simulations, engaging presentations, expert guidance, and advice on the latest systems and services.

At a time when we’re constantly being driven to increase efficiency, improve standards and deliver more services, effective staff training will allow delegation, improve process, and release precious capacity for pharmacists to spend time on service development and delivery.

To succeed in pharmacy you have to focus on what you want to achieve and get the whole team behind you. With the introduction of effective online learning at a reasonable monthly subscription, you can show your staff you care enough to invest in them. This will make them feel valued and motivated. And that’s when team talent is unleashed, bringing your pharmacy into the 21st century and ensuring your business achieves its potential.

Community pharmacy urgently needs more of this type of training support to overcome the multiple challenges it faces in the current healthcare economy. We need to embrace cost-effective new options for growth on multiple fronts by investing in the right IT and making sure staff know how to use it to its full extent. As a result, our business will run more efficiently, retain patient loyalty, and remain sustainable and profitable. 


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