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Great Patient Care Takes 100% Focus In Retail Pharmacy

Pharmacies are morphing into full care destinations, yet they still need to perform the essential (and time-sapping) task of filling prescriptions. Willey Pharmacy uses the Kirby Lester KL1Plus to make time for patients.

The pharmacists and techs at Willey Pharmacy in Bear, MD are just as adept at problem-solving as they are at running a community pharmacy. Sure, they busily fill prescriptions, deal with PBMs, monitor inventory. But that’s not where their interests, instincts, or profitability comes from. At Willey Pharmacy, they solve problems for their patients. Any problems. Says founder and owner Brandy Willey, PharmD, “We figure out what they need, whatever it is they need. So much more than just filling scripts one after another all day long.”

When Dr. Brandy Willey opened for business in 2020, the KL1Plus was one of her first “employees”

If customers need help caring for an elderly parent, the Willey staff connects the family with local social services. If a patient is prescribed a new medication, the pharmacists make sure they give a layman’s term explanation behind the science of the medicine, and encourage logical OTCs that improve comfort. Medication therapy management and med sync are automatic. “We have long conversations. No one is wasting our time,” Dr. Willey says. That time in front of the counter with patients is precious, so there is zero time to waste behind the counter. Hence what led Dr. Willey to search for the right technology to fill scripts perfectly from the start, without error.

KL1Plus Truly Frees Up Time

When Dr. Willey opened Willey Pharmacy in September 2020, she explored multiple technologies to automate the prescription filling process. Her must-have list:

  1. Fingerprint scanning and user tracking
  2. Automated counting
  3. Flag errors
  4. Provide multiple checks and balances to manage certain medications like controls
  5. Interface to her pharmacy computer system (PioneerRx)

Dr. Willey considered pharmacy robots and rejected them for various reasons, especially when she found the Kirby Lester KL1Plus counter-with-verification. It met all the criteria and is a fraction of the investment of a robotic device. Dr. Willey was the lone employee when Willey Pharmacy opened its doors. “The device on occasion caught me on simple things,” she says. “Like grabbing the atorvastatin 20mg off the fast rack, but the script was for 40mg. I would have caught it when I circled around to Pharmacist Check. But I would have wasted time. The device prevents errors in the first place,” Dr. Willey says.

She relies on the finger scanning, which tracks who does what, and the barcode scan to match the correct Rx with medication package. She also relies on the drug database on the KL1Plus’s computer, and the forced double-counts for controlled medications. “I had used simple Kirby Lester pill counters before. I wanted one with a brain. The extra bit of money was worth it to have these features. It’s a full track-and-trace system that’s the same size as a regular pill counter.”

No Errors Out The Door

From September 2020 to date, filling 100% of prescriptions with a KL1Plus, Willey Pharmacy has not had a single filling error go out the door. Dr. Willey is both astounded by that fact, and at the same time not surprised. “It’s why I bought the technology, to prevent errors. It’s doing its job,” she says. When asked to calculate the number of hours per year the KL1Plus saves in terms of quicker counting and the absence of backtracking to fix mistakes, Dr. Willey did some quick math: “821 hours a year, and that is only technician time savings. That’s not considering the really expensive time saved by pharmacists.”

More than just a retail pharmacy — Willey is a destination for health, care, and solutions

Pharmacy today is definitely not about putting pills in bottles … but community pharmacies do still have to put pills in bottles. “We need to use anything we can to get our mandatory functions done quickly and correctly every time. We don’t waste time that takes away from our customer conversations,” advises Dr. Willey.

Modernize or perish: it’s Dr. Willey’s outlook especially as retail pharmacy evolves and is forced to adapt to outside forces (not all positive either). “You need to be a resource for more than just a bottle of pills. You have to be there for your customers, any way they need you. And you never have a second chance to make a first impression. They’ll tell their friends not to go there,” Dr. Willey cautions. “You have to run incredibly lean but still be a full-service destination. It’s a difficult balancing act.”

Read New Blog: Why Most Pharmacy Customers Use Their KL1Plus