All staff on SGH Campus can now collect their medicine from the 24-hour Medication Collection Smart Lockers - even after Pharmacy has closed for the day.
When SGH closed our Block 3 outpatient pharmacy at the height of the pandemic to support medication delivery operations, the Department of Pharmacy anticipated a surge in patients at the main outpatient pharmacy at Block 4.
Hence, they embarked on a Quality Improvement (QI) project to prevent overcrowding at the Block 4 pharmacy. “It was very important for us to decongest the pharmacy to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” explains Senior Pharmacist Neo Zhi Yang, who led the project.
Improving an existing service to prevent overcrowding
The team did not come up with a new solution for their QI Project, which won the 2022 QI Project of the Year. Instead they looked at getting more people to use an existing service that would help tackle the problem of overcrowding. “The idea was to get more staff to use the 24-hour smart lockers service, started in November 2019, to collect their medicines after pharmacy operating hours,” explains Zhi Yang.
“We extended it beyond SGH to all SGH Campus staff. To help staff who were not tech savvy, we designed a step-by-step guide on how to use the smart lockers. With the step-by-step guide, more staff were willing to give the lockers a try. Many staff were also not aware of the service. So we moved the registration booth to a more visible location right at the entrance of the Block 4 pharmacy,” said Zhi Yang.
Says Pharmacist Ng Li Xian, “All the staff need to do is to drop off their prescriptions in a box outside the pharmacy. Once the medicine has been put in the locker, the staff will get a text informing him that he can pick up his medicine from the locker within 48 hours. Now staff can collect their medicines even after pharmacy has closed.”
They also did not take a long time to do this QI project. Says Zhi Yang, "We only took 2 weeks to plan and implement. Implementation was pretty straightforward because we already had a workflow from the 2019 smart locker service. With an established workflow, we could scale up the service within a short period of time. We also had an existing team of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians from our smart locker service who could hit the ground running. Getting buy-in from key stakeholders, such as Senior Management to encourage staff to use the smart lockers and pharmacy supervisors to release manpower to run the service, also helped speed up implementation.”
For their efforts, Zhi Yang and Li Xian’s team won the 2022 QI Project of the Year for their Project Sapporo.
Less repacking of unclaimed medicines
One of the benefits of the smart lockers was that it reduced instances where our pharmacists had to repack unclaimed medicines.
Explains Li Xian, “A lot of staff drop off their prescriptions before they start work. Unfortunately, many cannot make it back to pharmacy before the end of the day. If the medicine is not collected from the counter, we will remove the labels and put the medicine back in the original storage bins. If the staff comes back to get the medicine another day, we will have to repack again. But with the smart lockers, our staff have 48 hours to collect their medicines and at any time convenient to them. We found that the number of unclaimed medicines dropped by a third, meaning we have to repack medicines less often.”
The team behind the Medication Collection Smart Lockers
A more convenient and less stressful experience
Also, our staff welcome the 24-hour smart lockers because it is now more convenient and less stressful to collect their medicines. Says Zhi Yang, “This service really helped our staff working shifts, especially those posted to the dorms during the pandemic. Many told us that they used to rush down to pharmacy after their shift. But Retail Pharmacy’s glass doors were already shut. They would knock frantically, praying that somebody would open the door.”
Says Dr Tan Nan Guan, Associate Consultant, Upper GI and Bariatric Surgery, “I am able to collect my medication in my own free time after work. I hope this service will continue.”
Says Koh Wei Yi, Senior Executive, DEM Ops, “I don’t have to queue for my medication. It is so convenient.”