One of my readers/commenters asked if I might write a post on how to select a pharmacy. I had to think about that one for a while because it seemed rather “elementary” of a question to be honest. My initial response was “pick one near your home”. But I think that a better post might be “how to get the best experience out of the pharmacy of your choice”. And THAT is how I think I will answer this reader’s question.
When you choose your pharmacy initially, CONVENIENCE is king. REALLY. You want to pick a pharmacy that is near your home or someplace you go regularly..like the grocery store. If the pharmacy is in the back of the store, even better, you are in the grocery already, no extra steps are involved to take care of your pharmacy needs. If its in the same complex, thats fine also, you don’t have to get into your car and make a separate stop. Whether you really need a 24-7 pharmacy is debatable. I am an organized and efficient person and I really dont see the need personally to have a pharmacy THAT accessible to me but then again, I am a pharmaCIST 24-7 anyway and I posess the keys…(tho I have never needed to open the pharmacy for myself…and its probably not a good idea anyway).
Therefore since that question is easy enough to answer, lets work on the EXPERIENCE of using a pharmacy.
First off, it is important that you develop a friendly relationship with your pharmacist. He or She is a human being foremost and coming into the pharmacy on your first visit with a chip on your shoulder or an adversarial attitude because of whatever experience you had at your LAST pharmacy is not going to endear you to anybody at THIS pharmacy ok? Once you establish a postive realtionship with the staff, it goes a LONG WAY, but likewise, if you start out bad, it will take a long time before you will get into their good graces. I love the saying “you get what you give” and it applies well here. There are a lot of little things that we do that are purely optional that can make your life easier.
Have all of your information at the ready, and at the BEGINNING of the transaction, not at the end. That means be prepared to present all of your bio data, and have your CURRENT insurance cards at the onset. If there is anything quirky about your plan, dont keep it a secret. an aside: I had one guy that I absolutely tore my hair out over his insurance and he admitted that he had been a “she” and his insurance had him as a female. He knew this but didn’t bother to inform me. The less we have to fuss over, the quicker we achieve what you want…the finished product.
Decide what you want your pharmacy to be…a health care service or a cost cutting device. If all you want out of a pharmacy is “CHEAP” then shop at stores that only really focus on cheap and advertise their $4 stuff. I’ll be frank with you, we dont like to be asked if we price match. Not all pharmacies do the $4 thing. We may price match because our company tells us to, but its a hassle to keep track of and we think its a little cheesy and tactless. Likewise, if all you care about it cheap, don’t expect special services from that pharmacy. They likely don’t do them.
Help us with your initial transfers. If you have moved to a new area and need to transfer prescriptions, we are happy to accomodate. Just give us the proper information and some TIME to do it. Be sure to tell us all pertinent information like IF YOU HAVE A NEW DR.
Special needs: If you have special needs or some really expensive drugs, please order ahead of time. Most pharmacies would prefer not to keep (and hold) a drug for you for 29 days of each month so you can order and pick it up the same day. At Pharmacy Chick pharmacy, we make it a rule to call patients on rx’s that we are short on. We value your time as much as you do and dont want you to make more trips to the pharmacy than necessary. Likewise, understand that we aren’t a warehouse. We don’t stock EVERYTHING on the planet, and since we do 200-500 scripts a day, what we may have had at 9 am might be out of stock by 7pm..
Learn a bit about the biz. We are the middle man between your doctor and your prescription, and your insurer and you… Understand that we may have to ASK to refill your prescription. If el-doctoro hasn’t oked the rx, its not going to be done and getting mad at the pharmacist isn’t going to make that rx magically appear. Likewise, if your insurer rejects a prescription, we may not have the ability to fix that. When your insurance company sends you new cards, information, etc…read it all. Be informed about your choices, your limitations and your benefits.
The worst day of the week to want something fast is Monday. Its the pharmacy’s busiest day. The worst day of the week to need a call to the doctor is Friday. Also, beating the door down at opening time isn’t the ideal time of the day to need special favors any more than racing to the counter at 1 minute before closing is.
“How long is this gonna take?” and “When should I return for this?” are basically asking the same thing but #2 is going to elicit a much nicer response than #1..trust me. If you want your pharmacist to love you, say “I’ll be back for this in a day or so”. He/She will throw rose petals at your feet.
Planning 1-3 days ahead isn’t just a favor for us. It is really to your advantage, resulting in less trips to the pharmacy and leaving empty handed. I have never met a pharmacist who scolded a patient for calling ahead to see if a prescription is ready. What IS frustrating is to see the same faces over and over at the counter bemoaning the fact that something hasn’t been authorized yet “man, dont you have a phone? Call before you come down!”
Changes: Tell the staff when you have : 1) changed a dose 2) stopped taking a medicine 3) changed physicians 4) changed addresses 5) changed your name, or 6) developed an allergy to something.
Poly Pharmacy. We advocate using one and ONLY one pharmacy. We understand its your right to chase the deal. And if you want to have profiles at every pharmacy in the county chasing the gift cards, understand you are forfeiting the advantages of having your entire profile at one pharmacy. You will not have proper drug interaction checks and it will be up to you to keep track of it all.
Please, No whining. We all know drugs are expensive. We aren’t big fans of expensive copays either. We are only charging you what we have to. If you dont like what you have to pay for a prescription, there are contact numbers on the back of every insurance card out there. We also know you think your time is more valuable than the guy sitting next to you. We, however, think that getting a prescription filled accurately trumps both of you. (and you might mysteriously find that the nicer you are, the sooner things might be done)
Ive been doing this for 23 years, and I can pretty much sum a person up after 1-2 visits. I can usually sniff out “high maintenance” from the get-go, and I can almost always single out the jerks. That being said, I am also pretty good and recognizing a really neat person too.
Remember: You get what you give….