It seems everybody has jumped on the Automatic refill bandwagon. Who hasn’t seen the “Save time, have all your prescriptions filled automatically!”? Pharmacy chick Pharmacy is no exception, we too have launched this so-called service to our customers and while it may be a value added service to a core group of people, it is just one more thing to confuse and confund our customers and waste even more precious labor in the pharmacy.
Lets start from the beginning: explaining this concept to the patient. We have a lovely hand out to explain this relatively simple concept. If X has prescriptions he regularily fills, we can do it for him automatically and he will be notified when they are ready. Simple huh? Not.so.much. Since we are have been asked (no, HOUNDED) by our corporate people to ask every single person to sign up, we nearly need a full time person to spend all day explaining over and over how this simple thing works. This clogs up the checkstand when a customer wants to ask more questions which requires taking the person aside to answer questions and taking another person from the work line to start checking.
Who gets it? Who doesn’t? Not everybody can have it and just with about everything else in life, those who do not qualify seem to want it and those who seem to benefit the most want nothing to do with it, and after 4 months of asking are getting sick of being hustled about it. And, because every drug on their prolfile may not qualify for automatic refill ( but I fill my SOMA every month???) the customer still has to keep track of THOSE drugs.
Compliance: This service was touted (to us anyway) as a compliance tool. Um, I think not. Automatic refills does not a compliant person make. In fact what it has done is bring into focus the blatant noncompliance of the general public. And while I cannot condone non-compliance or (reduced compliance), its truly not my problem. Its the proverbial bring-a-horse-to-water-but-can’t-make-him-drink senario. This program is about MARKETING, nothing more and don’t even try to convince me otherwise. What we can’t seem to do is guarantee the patient will PICK UP the completed prescription which leads us to the next point.
Return to stock: A direct relation to the compliance issue, we get calls every single day (no exaggeration) telling us “I got a call about my automatic refill…I dont need it yet! put it back”. According to the schedule, a compliant patient would have 2 pills left in the bottle. If X has 15, he has surely missed doses. But Mr X is not coming in so back it goes….along with a dozen more each day of prescriptions left on the shelf for more than 14 days. More labor wasted. Since we started auto refilling rx’s our RTS’s (return to stocks) have skyrocketed.
Our system is not the brain trust of all computer systems either. We have to override the enrollment process for prescriptions IT THINKS should be autofilled. If a patient is considered “autofilled” then brings in 4 prescriptions from a dentist for Peridex, Ibuprofen, Vicodin and Clindamycin, both the ibuprofen and the Peridex will get flagged for autofilling, unless we stop the process and take them out. They aren’t all getting caught and I find them in the que quite often.
Variable prescriptions: Inhalers, insulin, creams and eye drops. Yes, these can be autofilled, but assigning a schedule for these had been a nightmare. Even if I ask “how often do you want these to be filled”, its still wrong. Tis either too soon or too late. And Birth control prescriptions that are taken Active-tablet-only? fuggetaboutit. Our computer hates those and no matter what we do, it schedules them too late.
Staggered dates. People who are organized tend to order most of their meds on the same date. Its easier for them and makes perfect sense. And I think thats a great idea. BUT this happens all to often: Auto order- X orders 5 prescriptions Feb 26 , 2 of which need a Dr auth, which comes in Feb 28. His first 3 are filled on the 26th and they are on the shelf. They get scheduled to be done March 24 of next month. The other two which are done on the 28th get scheduled for March 26 of next month. March 24 comes and X gets a call that he has prescriptions filled to pick up. He comes in and 3 are done. “but I get 5 each month… he says”. Thats because 2 aren’t scheduled to be done for 2 more days, and he has to either wait for us to do them or come back for a second trip. The phrase ” I seem to be here almost every day” AND ” I have no idea what I have here, but I got a call” seems to be rather prevalent since we started Auto Filling prescriptions.
But I want it sooner! We have spent more than 15 years at Chick Pharmacy training people to call in their refills early enough so if we need to contact the dr, we have time to do it. Mr Automatic Refill is an idiot and regarless of the prescription, schedule it 2 days before the patient is to be out….whether it has 10 refills or 0 refills. Good judgment is out the window as well, for calling for a prescription with a no-refill status on a Saturday is not smart, but Mr Automatic Refill doesnt care. If its discombobulated math figures it for Saturday, then saturday it is. The flip side of this grotesque coin is the people who have been trained to call early. They start calling us 4-5 days before the automatic refill kicks in wondering ” do I have anything on the shelf? I am getting low”…better yet, they ORDER IT, we fill it and it defeats the system.
I honestly wonder why insurance companies even allow it. We are filling a prescription that hasn’t been technically ordered. I dunno, go figure that one out Giant PBM.
And lastly, the blame game. I heard this one yesterday. “I signed up for your autorefill service. I am out and YOUR SYSTEM didn’t autorefill my prescription….gripe gripe gripe gripe and now I have to wait for you to fill it”. I checked the computer. He filled it December 24….for a 60 days supply. Simple math would tell me it should have scheduled him on or around Feb 24. Mr Auto Refill scheduled him March 13. I didn’t have an answer. But apparently I needed an apology.