Pick-to-Light Will-Call System Pays for Itself in Amarillo, TX

This case study by Bruce Kneeland was published in Pharmacy Times in January 2020. Click here to view the original article.

I met Mark Vogler, R.Ph. in the spring of 2016 on one of my many pharmacy road trips. I was impressed with what a passionate clinician and astute businessman he was back then. I just got of the phone with him, and am even more impressed as he shared with me why he had invested in a pick-to-light will-call management system.

Vogler is the owner of Martin-Tipton Pharmacy in Amarillo, TX. It is a high-volume pharmacy, doing about twice as many prescriptions per day as the national average. Much of this is due to Vogler being the type of guy who goes out and looks for better ways to meet the medication needs of of the people in his community. In addition to traditional dispensing the pharmacy works with mental health clinics, assisted living facilities and provides medication services to an AIDS support group.

But what brought us together was a conversation on why he had recently invested thousands of dollars in the scripClip™ LED supported will-call system. Here is his short answer, “I was tired of looking unprofessional when patients came in for their scripts and we couldn’t find them right away.”

And here is what blew me away. I asked how often that happened and he said, about 2 or 3 times a week. That number jumped out at me as being low compared to other pharmacies I have interviewed on behalf of [InterLink AI], the company that developed scripClip. I had done a survey for the company a couple months earlier and spoke with pharmacists who told me they had trouble finding scripts “a couple times a day” and didn’t seem to think it was anything to worry about.

It got a bit more interesting when he talked about being in an ethnically diverse part of town and the complications that come from hard to pronounce and spell names. He told me how his staff works hard to place filled scrips in alphabetical order but that just doesn’t always seem to work. Now he says, with the pick-to-light system they simply put filled prescriptions on the will-call rack randomly. Then they retrieve them by asking patients for their birth date and entering that into the POS. The result, the right bag lights up and is retrieved quickly.

Vogler says the system works exceptionally well, and he is pleased with the fact that it does exactly what he expected when he purchased it. But then he adds, since installing the system he has found that it pays for itself in an unanticipated way.

Vogler says the process of identify the precise bag for a person who has not picked up a filled script is much easier with scripClip. Vogler says that by asking the system to “light-up” scripts filled but not picked up after 5 days his staff can simply walk the will-call area and retrieve those scripts. Then they call – yes – they make a personal phone call to those people, find out what the issue is and encourage them to come get their medicine.

He says the personal call, done by staff members with access to a patient’s full profile helps him provide exceptional customer service. Then he says, they repeat the process at 10 days and return items to stock and reverse third-party claims. Being able to perform both tasks so quickly has helped reduce abandoned scrips and improve inventory turns and cash-flow. He says scripClip has allowed him to reduce the number of bags in his will-call bin from 400 to 300. These two metrics alone, he says, more than justify the cost of the system.

Finally, he says, “The flashing lights just look nice.”