A prominent issue faced by many pharmacies is the question of storage space. With hundreds to thousands of drugs to store and dispense, it might seem impossible to find secure storage for all these different medications and yet still be able to access them quickly and easily. But the truth is, it’s not as hard as you might think.
In fact, a number of pharmacy storage solutions exist which both save space and provide easy access to stored pharmaceuticals. Whether you’re looking to store frequently accessed medications closer to a work area, or you need a convenient storage system for regulating access to narcotics and other sensitive materials, or you’re simply running out of storage space, efficient solutions are available to meet your pharmacy storage needs. Read on to learn about the following six space-saving pharmacy storage solutions:
- Modular pharmacy casework
- Pull-out sliding shelving
- Lateral sliding shelving
- High-density mobile shelving
- Rotary cabinets
- Computerized security cabinets
Modular Pharmacy Casework
Modular casework is a flexible and efficient storage solution for pharmacy environments. Unlike traditional millwork, the casework is not built into the walls or floors, which means that it can be easily moved and reconfigured as necessary. Thanks to this reusability, the casework is eco-friendly and won’t impact landfills. The modular pieces are precision-cut at the factory, and you can structure a configuration from a number of different options for a solution that meets your specific storage requirements.
These casework options include cabinets, drawers, shelving, and even built-in sinks. Thanks to such flexibility, this casework is functional in a variety of medical settings, including office space with desks for pharmacists, unit dose filling stations, compounding stations, and more. The casework comes in a laminate finish with 27 different color options, including over a dozen wood-grained, allowing you to design a work environment that is both sanitary and aesthetically pleasing. With hygiene in mind, the surfaces are sealed to prevent wicking, and drawers are vinyl-wrapped for ease of cleaning. A phenolic resin work surface option, ideal for compounding stations, is sanitary and chemical-resistant.
When it comes to unit dose fill stations, casework keeps hundreds of medications at a pharmacist’s fingertips. Worksurfaces are positioned at an ergonomic height, with open shelves and drawers to store medication above and below. Upper shelves are fitted with cantilever brackets that you can adjust to five different positions, angling the shelves downward for easier access to supplies. As such, the shelves have a slot that can hold an optional retainer to prevent products from slipping out when the shelf is tilted.
The same principle is at work in gravity feed drawers below, which provide slanted storage for pharmaceutical packaging to ensure that staff always have ready access to the materials. Drawers also have a soft-close option to reduce noise in a busy pharmacy. With the space to efficiently store hundreds of medications within easy reach at a single filling station, pharmacists can fill prescriptions faster than ever, ensuring that patients don’t have to wait for the medications they need.
Architects and designers can use Revit BIM software to design a custom casework solution that perfectly suits your pharmacy’s needs. Learn more about modular casework here.
Pull-Out Sliding Shelving
Pull-out sliding shelving is a high-density solution for storing medications. This sliding shelving system is best used for fitting storage into narrow spaces. With a number of different carriage and shelf sizes to choose from, you can fit this storage system into a space of almost any width. Such versatility maximizes limited space and lets you store frequently used materials close to the work area, eliminating walks to a separate storage area. View space-saving pharmacy storage images.
The storage consists of shelving units that are mounted side by side on floor tracks. Each carriage slides forward to provide full access to stored materials. Some configurations are designed with exterior shelves where you can store fast-moving medications for ready access while keeping slower-moving products on the interior shelves which you can pull out when needed.
By eliminating aisle space between shelving units, the pull-out shelving offers the most efficient use of space, increasing your storage capacity in a small footprint. Since it allows meds to be stored closer to work areas and retrieved quickly, it facilitates faster script fulfillment and reduces pharmacist fatigue, thus increasing productivity. Learn more about pull-out sliding shelving here.
Lateral Sliding Shelving
Similarly, lateral sliding shelving also eliminates static access aisles and condenses storage into less floor space. This storage system is compatible with your existing shelving, as it mounts standard shelving and cabinets on floor tracks that slide laterally rather than out at you. Thus, this system is better for fitting storage in a wide but shallow footprint.
Shelves are installed two or three rows deep, with at least one less unit in the front so that you can access the stationary back row by sliding the front shelves left or right. These shelving units accommodate bins, open shelving, and secured drawers, with the option of locking security doors.
This high-density system can save up to 40% of your floor space compared with a stationary equivalent. As with the preceding system, it’s best to store frequently used supplies in the front shelves with slower-moving medications in the back. These practices will increase productivity and allow pharmacists to access materials and fill orders faster. Read more about lateral sliding storage here.
High-Density Mobile Shelving
High-density mobile shelving is another efficient solution for pharmacies with extensive storage needs. While it might take slightly longer to access stored materials than in the systems above, this option is the best for storing the highest volume of supplies or medication in a compact footprint. With sturdy shelving units mounted on mobile carriages, this system reduces static aisle space down to a single movable aisle, saving up to 50% of floor space or nearly doubling your storage capacity in the same footprint.
With a variety of shelving choices, the system affords organized, accessible storage for hundreds to thousands of different medications. Use either a mechanical-assist rotating handle or powered controls to move the carriages and open the desired aisle. And consider installing fast-mover shelves on the ends of aisles to provide ready access to the most frequently used materials.
Like the casework, high-density shelving systems can be designed to suit your exact needs, with different carriage lengths and shelf depths, among other customizations. Construction materials include laminate and stainless steel options for the most durable and sanitary storage. Read more about high-density shelving for pharmacies here.
When it comes to storing narcotics and other controlled materials, security becomes a top priority. Pharmacy rotary cabinets are a space-saving and secure solution for storing narcotics and other sensitive supplies.
The compact design of the rotary cabinet affords double the storage capacity of a standard cabinet. Two back-to-back storage compartments rotate 360 degrees within a stationary frame. A 90-degree rotation conceals the storage behind a solid panel to prevent leaving stored materials in the open. Gently push on the door or shelf to rotate the storage. You can also lock the cabinet to prevent unauthorized access to stored narcotics.
These rotary cabinets can store a variety of supplies, with rods for hanging pharmacy bags, roll-out shelves with dividers for organizing medications, drawers with key locks for storing narcotics with maximum security, and adjustable shelves which you can adapt to accommodate your storage needs. Read more about pharmacy rotary cabinets here.
Computerized Security Cabinets
For storing narcotics and other expensive supplies and medications with the highest level of security, choose computerized security cabinets. These cabinets contain locked drawers with individual sealed compartments for each medication. Access is carefully regulated by system software, which provides real-time auditing and keeps an accurate drug inventory at all times. These systems are available in benchtop or freestanding models, as well as a modular system allowing you to add on storage units controlled by the master computer.
To access stored supplies, users must first be identified at the computer, using either an ID card, fingerprint ID, or username and password. Once authorized, the user selects a stored medication or supply to retrieve. The system unlocks the appropriate drawer, with a flashing light to signal its location to the user. When the user opens the drawer, the correct compartment automatically pops open, and the user can retrieve the stored material. During the entire process, all other drawers and compartments remain sealed. This automated system helps eliminate human error in dispensing medication by ensuring that staff can only access the correct specified medication.
As an additional security feature, a wireless camera comes with the system and records all transactions at the storage cabinet. System administrators can control which users are authorized to access which medications, at which times, and for what purpose. Audit tracking capabilities allow managers to review when any item has been checked out or returned, and you can set due dates to be alerted when a material has not been returned on time. Administrators can also access the system remotely for full managing capabilities.
This system also has a mobile security cart alternative. System software guides healthcare staff in transferring medication from a stationary security cabinet to the mobile cart, and the same audit capabilities will track when supplies are retrieved from the cart compartments. This is extremely useful when it comes to distributing medication to patients in a hospital, as the database connects to each patient’s file to ensure that accurate medications and dosages are given at the correct times. The cart is also useful for storing narcotics and other supplies for anesthetists and other staff to use in an operating room environment.
While you’ll prize this system for its security, you don’t have to compromise on convenience of access. The procedure of retrieving a stored medication only takes about 10 seconds per transaction. Since the software automatically directs the user to the correct compartment, staff don’t have to take the time to hunt down a stored item and double-check that they’ve chosen the right medication. In addition, you can customize the drawers to meet your storage needs and adapt to changes over time. You can choose from a variety of sizes and configurations for compartments and drawers. Learn more about computerized security cabinets here.
Pharmacy Casework, Rotary Cabinets & Sliding Shelving Prices
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Contact Us for Pharmacy Storage Solutions
Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for all types of pharmacy storage solutions. We will also provide you with a free consultation to determine your exact needs and specifications before the design process begins. To learn more or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.