Improving Patient Experience in a Pharmacy

About

This was a semester long project for Contextual Inquiry and Consulting. Our team partnered with a large hospital to improve patient experience at their pharmacy. Using methods of contextual inquiry, observation, and affinity walls, we identified key issues pertaining to process, information technology, and communication: internally within the pharmacy team and between the pharmacist and patient.  

My Role

UX researcher, project manager, data interpreter to identify key insights

Process

Interviews

Interviews were conducted with a pharmacist, pharmacy resident, pharmacist technician, the assistant director of the pharmacy, and two patients who had used the pharmacy. Interviews shed light onto the problem we were initially presented with, as well as key communication and process issues that contributed to poor patient experience.  

Visualizing and organizing qualitative data collected through contextual inquiry

Findings

  1. The information systems used by the physician and the pharmacist to prescribe and fill medications were different. The physician used  Epic MiChart to prescribe medication, while the pharmacist used NRX's QS1 to view the prescriptions and fill them. One of the major problems that resulted was if the physician changed the prescription, it was not updated on pharmacist's system. Therefore, the pharmacist's time was either spent validating via phone and pages or filling incorrect prescriptions. 
  2. We found inefficiencies in internal team communication among the pharmacists, residents, and technicians. The meetings were held during work hours when the team was busy. Meeting notes were sent through email which was ignored by the team. This resulted in redundancies and not having the team on the same page.
  3. Medication instructions given to patients were difficult to read due to the way the information was presented, in large paragraphs. 
  4. The pharmacy did not carry out a patient satisfaction survey at all, so they had no real data on patient feedback and needs. 

Recommendations

We found several issues in communication between physicians to pharmacists, pharmacist to pharmacist, and pharmacist to patient. These issues were causing unnecessary delays and wasted effort on incorrect prescriptions, taking away time from engaging with the patient. In order to better streamline their workflow, we proposed the following recommendations:

  1. Align information systems used by the physicians and pharmacists to prevent communication gaps in prescriptions
  2. The pharmacy team should perform daily huddles to ensure everyone is on the same page, and no redundancies in tasks occur. For those who cannot attend, post up meeting minutes on a shared bulletin board rather than sending emails.
  3. Use bullet points to highlight necessary information, to present in a less convoluted format.
  4. Have the pharmacy administer a patient survey to understand patient needs and collect data on patient experience at the pharmacy.

Left: Mockup of a patient questionnaire; Right: Mockup of medication documentation for patients