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Sunday, February 21, 2010

The future of pharmacy

Which is better, a store with many registers where you have to guess which line will be faster (think Wal-Mart, Target, grocery stores)or a store where there is but one queue, one line, and where you are directed to a eventual open register (think Best Buy, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Borders)?

Well, Richard Larson, an engineer at MIT, but also known as Dr. Q--a "queue psychologist"--says that there are definite advantages to the single queue line. Though wait times average the same, anger issues are lessened by the knowledge that there is a definite first-come, first-serve.

There is also an advantage to the store. While Q-ing up, your attention is focused on all the little things up for sale along the way whilst you wait. Nice for impulse buys (always high profit items for stores).

But while Q-ing up at a local Marshals, I thought of another advantage to such a queue: privacy. Here I was waiting for a register with a pair of pants and socks, and I noticed that I was about fifteen or twenty feet from the nearest register. I couldn't even hear what was being said by the clerk or customers. Now wouldn't that be just the ticket for a pharmacy where some druggist has to explain to some poor bloke about his ED drug, or some woman about her miconazole?

If you've been at a drug store lately you know how the procedure works. You pick up your medication at the register and if you want to be counseled there is a little window cubby just to the left or right where you scoot yourself to so that there is "privacy" and the nosey-nancy just to your right can still hear every word. And usually the pharmacist is so busy he/she tries to counsel the person right at the register but getting the person to say all the "private" things so they aren't liable for HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act).

Wouldn't it be great if pharmacies had a system like Marshalls, and the other people couldn't overhear private, sensitive conversations that are really none of their business?

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