Make Your Drive-Thru a Positive Customer Experience

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Drive-thrus are common among chain pharmacies as well as many smaller independent drugstores. Pharmacies began introducing drive-thru services in the 1990s, adding convenience and faster service for their customers. Ideally, drive-thru windows are for those who need access to pharmacy personnel without having to leave their cars, such as those who are disabled or guardians with children. Of course, they are also utilized by patients who want a quick way to pick up their prescriptions. Although the benefits are numerous, drive-thrus also create a few issues for customers and pharmacists alike.

Surprisingly, many pharmacists actually do not care for drive-thrus, not only because they increase the likelihood of dispensing errors, but because they also create unrealistic expectations.1 Consumers tend to assume pharmacy drive-thrus function the same way as those of fast-food restaurants. They want quick service without a long wait time. In some instances, customers arrive to pick up their prescriptions before they are ready, leading to annoyed patients and overwhelmed pharmacists. Complications like that are bound to arise at any pharmacy drive-thru. Luckily, QS/1 has the products and services designed to minimize these stressful situations and create a smoother, more enjoyable process for customers and pharmacists.

Decrease Wait Time

The Motion® SlateMate™ tablet functions as a portable point-of-sale system. Pharmacies can conveniently check out customers, process payments, collect signatures and print receipts all at the drive-thru window. As a tablet PC, the SlateMate allows personnel to run a QS/1 Windows Client and access pharmacy management systems and Point-of-Sale when connected to Wi-Fi, a hotspot or built-in 4G cellular service.2

Incorporating this tablet into your drive-thru process can greatly improve efficiency by moving customers through checkout faster. In addition, it can be used anywhere inside your pharmacy, so if the line gets backed up or customers need a more in-depth consultation, you can direct them inside, if they are able, and handle their needs without using a register.

QS/1’s eSigCap is an app available on iPad® and Android™ that can also be used to wirelessly collect signatures from patients. It allows pharmacy staff to view filled medications waiting for patient signatures, and after capturing the required signatures, it syncs to the pharmacy management system to file them.3

To further cut down on wait time, RetrieveRx® is available for integration with the NRx® and PrimeCare® Pharmacy Management Systems. As a will-call bagging system, RetrieveRx assigns prescriptions to heavy-duty, clear bags. For use at the drive-thru window, pharmacy personnel can enter the patient’s name into the prescription status in the system to view how many prescriptions they have ready for pickup and where they are located in the workflow process. By clicking “Light Bag” in the system, the appropriate bag lights up in the will-call area for quick, easy retrieval.4 Incorporating RetrieveRx into your pharmacy workflow can notably speed up the drive-thru process, which makes customers happy while simultaneously relieving your employees of the stress attributed to searching through hundreds of prescriptions.

Eliminate the Line

Some pharmacies offer curbside pickup as an alternative to drive-thrus. This service offers the same convenience as a drive-thru, while eliminating the need to wait in line. Pharmacies who utilize curbside pickup have designated spots in their parking lots for patients who call ahead of time to pick up their prescriptions. Pharmacy staff scan the items being purchased, save the information on a portable device and meet the patient curbside to collect payment and any required signatures.5 Curbside services can be extremely efficient for independent pharmacies that may not have the lot space to accommodate long drive-thru lines.

Coupled with QS/1’s mobileRx® app, which allows customers to request refills from their smartphones, the SlateMate is the perfect mobile device to use for this type of service. If implementing a curbside pick-up service, it can be taken outside to patients to capture signatures and complete purchases.

Offer Notification Services

Patients often wait in line only to learn their prescriptions are not ready for pickup. Some customers go straight to the pharmacy after having their medications called in by their doctor, expecting them to be filled and ready to go. Realistically, that is not always the case.

Offering notification services is an easy way to give patients more control and enhance convenience. Many pharmacies offer automatic text services, which notify patients when their refills are ready for pickup. Contacting patients via text boosts patient engagement and adherence, which are two significant trends in pharmacy.

Notifications also benefit pharmacists; they increase patient medication adherence and further impact inventory management. According to voiceTech, “Pharmacies that use reminder notifications that an Rx is waiting for pickup will help reduce return to stock by 50% or more.” 6

Using QS/1’s mobileRx, patients can set up prescription refill reminders and request refills from their Apple® or Android smartphones. When configured with Interactive Voice Response, the app also allows patients to set up email, voice call or text notification services which notify them of the progress of their prescriptions. By providing patients with the information they need ahead of time, notifications eliminate trips to the pharmacy that may result in frustration.

Use Technology

Many of the issues that arise at drive-thrus can be resolved with growing technology. Help your pharmacy staff and your patients have a better experience by adopting these practices. Tune in to what today’s patients look for in a pharmacy and make improvements based on enhancing their convenience. As a result, your pharmacy staff will also be happier and less stressed. QS/1 has helpful services that continue to improve and expand. Take advantage of these tools and improve your drive-thru.


1 Bluestein, Adam & Crouch, Michelle. “34 Secrets Your Pharmacist Isn’t Telling You.” Reader’s Digest. n.d. Web. 10 April 2017. http://www.rd.com/health/conditions/pharmacist-wont-tell-you/

2 “QS/1 Releases Wireless SlateMate Tablet.” QS/1. April 14, 2014. Web. 10 April 2017. http://www.qs1.com/index.php/about/news/qs-1-releases-wireless-slatemate-tablet

3 “QS/1 eSigCap App for iPad Signature Capture.” QS/1. May 29, 2014. Web. 10 April 2017. http://www.qs1.com/index.php/about/news/qs-1-esigcap-app-for-ipad-signature-capture

4 “RetrieveRx®.” QS/1. n.d. Web. 12 April 2017. http://www.qs1.com/index.php/modules/retrieverx

5 “How to Start a Curbside Pickup Program in Your Pharmacy.” Elements. Dec. 14, 2015. Web. 11 April 2017. https://www.pbahealth.com/how-to-start-a-curbside-pickup-program-in-your-pharmacy/

6 “Pharmacy Best Practices for Patient Engagement and Text Messaging.” Pharmacy PLUS Technology. ComputerTalk for the Pharmacist. April 29, 2016. Web. 11 April 2017. http://blog.computertalk.com/blog/best-practices-for-patient-engagement-and-text-messaging

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