Productivity vs. Patient Safety at Walgreens and CVS

Productivity vs. Patient Safety at Walgreens and CVS

Tired employees at Walgreens and CVS are making mistakes that may threaten patient safety.

For some time, pharmacists have argued that understaffed and high-pace work environments are contributing to medication errors and compromising public safety. Management has challenged these allegations but is planning to review the standards used to evaluate pharmacists’ performance.


Video Spotlight: Medication Errors at 24-Hour Pharmacies


This post is based on The New York Times article, At Walgreens, Complaints of Medication Errors Go Missing, by E. Gabler, February 21, 2020, and the YouTube video, Prescription Drug Dispensing Errors Kill 100,000 People Per Year in USby CBSDFW, May 14, 2018. Image source: fstop123/Getty Images.

Discussion Questions:

1. How do Walgreens and CVS try to ensure high levels of productivity from their pharmacists?

Guidance: The productivity index is measured by the ratio of output to input. In this article, the efforts mentioned to boost productivity involve a reduction of inputs through increased quantitative workload and multi-tasking. The high pace of work, lower staffing levels (e.g. elimination of overlapping pharmacists, reduced work hours for technicians), and longer hours contribute to quantitative overload. Answering the phone, filling drive-through and in-store orders, and giving flu shots Continue reading

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Revamping Time and Motion Studies

Revamping Time and Motion Studies

January 31, 2019

A new survey indicates that humans, not machines, perform 72 percent of manufacturing tasks.  However, when companies look at improving efficiency, they often overlook how to make humans more productive and focus instead on how to replace them with automation.

Robots are well suited for some tasks, but many other tasks still require the human touch.  In addition, industrial engineers often use time and motion study techniques which, while valuable, have been in use since Henry Ford’s days in the early 1900’s.

Perhaps it’s time to use new data gathering methodologies to increase worker productivity.

This post is based on the Design News article, Is it time to make human workers more efficient?, by Rob Spiegel, January 2, 2019. Image source: auremar/123RF.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why don’t companies spend more time analyzing workers to improve their efficiency?

Guidance: According to the article, manufacturers often put a greater emphasis on the potential benefits of automation because of the difficulties in quantifying investments and potential payoffs associated with improving worker proficiency.

Also, it takes a great deal of time for industrial engineers to conduct these studies. The measurement techniques have not changed to reflect the digital age.

2. Continue reading

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