The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Nine pm and beyond.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:04 am on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One of my pharmacy friends works for a different company.  We get together occasionally and despite our similar professions we rarely talk shop.  Over lunch this time however we chatted about their recent conversion to a new computer software ( a company I will not disclose).  She was frustrated beyond measure.  What they got was a complicated system that slowed the process down.  She has been at it for about 5 months now.  ” everything in the filling process takes longer.  We used to breeze thru 400 on a monday with time left over but now we are still printing labels at closing”.

That reality came to me 2 weeks ago when we got a software update on our own system that went horribly awry.  It had been rolling thru the company over a period of weeks so we knew it was coming, but something went bad over that weekend.  I came to work on that saturday morning to the  bulletin that  the update had been done, but it took an abnormally long time to boot up.  Then the logins hung for nearly a minute…then the screens advanced from one to another like it was an old 386.  I thought perhaps we needed a complete system reboot so I turned EVERYTHING off and rebooted from OFF.  Same result.  As I began to fill rx, it became painfully aware to me that something was wrong.  What used to be enter.enter.enter.print, was now enter…………………………………enter…………………………….enter………………………….print……………………………………………….and 25 seconds was passing between “print” and when the printer actually engaged.  Repeat this over 300 times and you can see…Houston, we have a problem.

I started getting calls from other stores:  “PC are your computers working?”    Other things had failed also.  We had no drug monographs printing on the know, the information we are required to provide to each patient??  GONE.  and to go in and reprint them was slower than the filling process and to complicate things, half the time you hit PRINT, nothing happened.  Also gone were some other key features on the label.

I figured it would be a day or two before it was fixed.  I called our IT guy  ” Yea I know something happened..they are working on it”Its been 3 weeks.

Customers came in all day wanting rx’s that I hadn’t even generated labels for..I couldn’t print them fast enough.. It was tough.  They didn’t get it. I was looking at the queue growing  35, 50, 75…going in faster than my computer could spit them out.  And that has what its been like ever since.  Im getting good at explaining to customers that my computer reverted back to something like the brick cell phone!

The other roll outs went fine.  Why am I still waiting 3 weeks for our fix?  Monday we did close to 300 rx. Normally its a breeze average day..  I did the math.  It took 25 seconds for each label to print ( not including the extra time to print monographs or move between the screens.) for the 300 we did that is an extra 125 minutes of computer work it took just to generate labels.  And ,we learned quickly that moving between windows to hasten the process only slowed it down.  Which explained WHY at 9 pm when we were to close, I still had 50 prescriptions to count.  My pharmacist ( who left earlier) said ” just leave me whatever, I’ll take care of it tomorrow.

NO WAY.  Thats not how we do it.  We were there til 10:45 and left her a clean pharmacy.  Tech Extraordinare could have left but she stayed.  Nothing was required of her.

I sure hope they fix this soon. I feel like I am trying to run under water….


Comment by dr-lasermed

November 30, 2011 @ 1:08 pm

This reminds me of when they update my electronic medical record. I can’t find a thing. Mine is now spellchecking the entire record. ARGH!

Comment by mdb

November 30, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

I remember a couple of months ago a software update came throught that basically toasted the system. We couldn’t fill, input, check scripts, or even deal with 3rd party issues. It took from 9am to 4pm to get it fixed after I spent hours on the phone with our helpdesk and at one point was talking with one of the programmers because the store I was at seemed to especially hard hit. The we had alot of fun with people having express scripts as system was having issues on our talking with express scripts. It took from weds morning to saturday afternoon to get everything finally working, before that we couldn’t bill the company as the issue was on our end at corporate.

Comment by Howard

November 30, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

Recently retired, I worked in both the Financial and Healthcare industries for many decades developing the kind of software you are writing about.
In the financial industry, you test changes to existing or installation of completely new systems, then you test them again, then you back up the old, working, system, write the protocol for reinstalling the old system should the new system or new system enhancements fail. Then you install the new system, preferably on a non-work day, and you have a team of testers run the new system to make sure that it comes up properly and works as required the a.m. of day 1.
In the healthcare industry, you develop the new system, you install it, you then immediately terminate the contract of the Indian consultants who wrote the new system for you (so you can stop paying them right away, you’ve got the new system, right?). Then, if you’re one of the execs, you vote yourself a nice bonus for a job well done. If the users of the new system call you the next day in a panic and tell you that the new system isn’t working, you tell them that its their fault, they don’t know how to use it, and you take an early lunch.
If I had a dollare for each time I’ve seen the above scenario played out in the healthcare industry, I could take my entire family to see The Lion King on Broadway, front row seats, and dinner at the Plaza for us all.
Now you understand WHY you encountered the problems you describe in the article above?

Comment by wellillbe

December 1, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

Maybe if they had some onshore tech people they could fix it faster….Sorry, that sounds like an awful way to sepnd your evenings

Comment by Tecnically Insane

December 2, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

Those are the days I just want to throw my self on the ground and cry. I am so grateful to see how much you appriciate your tech!any pharmacist worth his/her salt will live and die by the quality of their tech. without my tech I am dead…

Comment by Erin

December 2, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

I’d like to second Tecnically Insane above. We techs are in the trenches too. It makes a world of difference to be appreciated by the RPh, who we work so hard for, and with.

Comment by Frantic Pharmacist

December 2, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

Every so-called ‘upgrade’ and every new system we get seems to be more and more cumbersome. It never seems to make things faster, safer or more efficient. Even at the cash register, everything is a long drawn-out ordeal — I need a password AND a thumbprint to sell someone a bag of cough drops. The IT people have no idea what it’s like to be ‘down’ and have people four deep at the counter staring at you. Hate it!I agree, its just patch patch patch patch…and it never works the same again….

Comment by bob

December 2, 2011 @ 11:52 pm

You have overlap and only do 3 to 4 hundred a day. According to my sup cvs requires a minimum of 450 to 500 for any overlap, and even then its usually 4 to 6 hours at most on a 14 hour day. Were only doing 2300 a week and starting the new year lose the only overlap we have-6 hours on monday. You should be happy your company provides proper support. I have been looking to escape cvs for some time now, but the job market is too tight. Reading this blog just confirms what I suspected…..there are better places to work, and if I don’t get out soon it will probably give me an m.I.please dont have an MI, I’m sure you have family who needs you. We have 2 hours of overlap per week, all on monday. the rest we go solo.

Comment by CommPharmd

December 7, 2011 @ 12:18 am

I’m right there with you, but I work in a community setting. Had a guy let someone update something on the server but didnt’ notify ANYONE.. Computers SLOWED slowed and we could complete 3-5 spins in our chairs between key clicks. Finally figured out that he had bogged a specific part of the server; after much disagreement…. He removed all traces of the software and we were back up to speed!
Start low, go slow is only for drug doses not computers…

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