Pharmacy Design


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Mail Order Pharmacy Design – A Case Study © William N. Bernstein, LEED®AP, AIA

Mail order pharmacies are different from other types of pharmacies, in that the pharmacy staff does not interact personally with the patient, instead they ship out all of their prescription sales via mail or delivery services such as UPS and Fed Ex. Like many pharmacy types, however — such as hospital pharmacies and outpatient pharmacies — mail order pharmacies must be planned for maximum efficiency of prescription delivery. Space, construction dollars and staffing budgets face the same need as all businesses in this economy to do more with less

A recent mail order pharmacy design case study, provided by the Adventist Health System in Florida, was published in Pharmacy Purchasing & Products magazine ( Not only does AHS fill 132,000 prescriptions annually, they ship 400-500 packages a day, buy $120,000 in drugs each day, and have managed do it successfully out of a 9,600 square foot space in Sanford, Florida with 20 on-site staff members. Some key components of how they approached the design of their mail order pharmacy:

– an aesthetically pleasing pharmacy environment, combined with a focus on pharmacy workflow and pharmacy functionality

– creation of pharmacy “pod” workstations for two: one pharmacist and one pharmacy technician. At these pods, the duos are responsible for initiating orders, printing labels, and filling prescriptions.

– each pod has multiple drawers. These drawers contain a sufficient supply of materials such as empty vials and blank labels, as well easily accessible, yet unobtrusive space for waste.

– each pod also has an easily accessible touch screen computer mounted on a pole. These computers can be swerved and rotated in almost any direction to accommodate the most productive position of the team at work. The touch screen computers prove to be extremely functional, as they eliminate the use of excessive cords, create more open work space on the surface of the pods, and simplify facilitated NDC checks.

– use of Kirby counting machines, located close to each pod for increased prescription workflow

– an efficient storage and shelving system was a necessity to house $100,000’s of drug overstock at any given time

– provision of excess pharmacy shelving to accommodate company and stock volume growth

– custom controlled substance cabinets disguised to look identical to regular cabinets to prevent theft in the event of a break in. These cabinets are located in a central, clear area for constant monitoring and easy access.

– provision for future addition of pharmacy automation technology, as well as the addition of new pharmacist/technician teams.

In summary, successful mail order pharmacy design enhances workflow and functionality, and allows for future growth and expansion.

About the Author:

William N. Bernstein, LEED®AP, AIA is the principal of Bernstein & Associates, Architects ( and president of Equipment Planning, Inc. ( This architecture firm and equipment planning firm are well-known for pharmacy planning, pharmacy design and pharmacy architecture, including a sub-specialty in usp 797 compliant pharmacy design and construction. These pharmacy consulting firms have designed and equipment planned over twenty new pharmacies, pharmacy renovations, and pharmacy relocations in the past five years. The firm’s principal — William N. Bernstein, LEED®AP, AIA — is a well known pharmacy architect and pharmacy equipment planner. He has written extensively on pharmacy design and pharmacy construction including usp 797 compliant pharmacies. Mr. Bernstein’s pharmacy design articles can be found on, and his usp 797 articles can be found on the usp 797 website

For more information about pharmacy planning, pharmacy design and pharmacy construction, contact Bernstein & Associates, Architects at:

Bernstein & Associates, Architects – PLLC
59 West 19th Street – 6A, NY, NY  10011
T: 212.463.8200
F: 212.463.9898

For more information about pharmacy equipment planning, and pharmacy automation equipment specifications and planning, contact Equipment Planning, Inc. at:

Equipment Planning, Inc.
59 West 19th Street – 6A, NY, NY  10011
T: 212.463.08200
F: 212.463.9898

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