Recently PC received an email from a reader/patient who had been experiencing frustration from her pharmacy. She is a medically complex patient with a lot of needs, but makes a sincere effort to do all the “right things” in order to be what we like to call “the perfect patient”. She calls in early, allows lots of time for processing, keeps her pharmacy up to date on changes, etc. And yet, she makes the trip to the store to find incomplete prescriptions, missing meds. etc… she asked me ” What am I doing wrong?”.
We like to blame the patient..and in a lot of cases, the patient IS to be blamed. They over use meds, they “lose” them, they call is at the 11th hour before a vacation demanding an early fill, they are irresponsible. They transfer back and forth for coupons so often they lose track of where they are. I could go on and on…and have in post after post. Blaming the patient is easy.
But not always right.
We, as pharmacies, have a certain corresponding responsibility to our patients. At the very least…to keep them informed. Tho I have no need for pharmacy services ( after all, I take care of my own) I do have needs of OTHER services and it irritates me to no end to have enlisted a company for a service and they drop the ball. I order a service and the person fails to show up at the appointed time. I schedule something and its not ready at the appointed time. I buy a product and something different is shipped.
At the very least there are certain things that the “perfect” pharmacy should do for their patients: and I will list them here…
1. The pharmacy should treat every patient with reasonable outwardly respect and courtesy. Until its been made clear by either action or deceit that a certain patient needs handling by other means, everybody should be treated politely. I may recognize a train wreck from a mile away, but I dont TREAT them any differently. I may be thinking something entirely different, but I treat everybody with courtesy. After all, I do not sign my own paycheck.
2. The pharmacy should call patients when they are out of stock on medications. I can’t believe I even have to say this, but I do. I hear this complaint a lot from customers coming from other stores AND from my readers as one of their chief complaints. If a script isnt’ ready because its just not done yet, well thats ONE thing, but to NOT call when you are out of stock it totally another deal…call the patient!
3. The pharmacy should contact a patient if they receive a denial on a script. It pisses me off to no end to find a note on the shelf ” rx denied” and no call was made. I mean, do you REALLY think I like finding a note where a script should be when John Doe comes in and I get to deliver that news? because the next question is ALWAYS..” why didn’t anybody call me?”
4. The pharmacy should call the patient if there is an insurance issue: PA requirement, Termination, etc. enuf said really. Call them up, tell them to bring new card, or whatever. but just do it!
5. the pharmacy should call the patient if they are unable to get a certain product by the promised time frame. It is not our fault if we cannot buy a certain product because of outages or shortages. It IS our fault if we fail to tell the customer that. WE had a certain shortage that we had documented we had left a message for a patient. She came in and was mad that we “hadn’t called”, I showed her the note and she said ” thats not my phone number anymore”….WELL< THATS NOT MY FAULT EITHER.
Dropping the ball is the chief embarrassment I face as being a pharmacist. We juggle a lot of balls thruought the day and its a rather complicated dance to keep all of them up and organized. However, like juggling, its all about the rhythm….keep it going in an organized manner and it will likely be done well. We have a similar system at PC pharmacy. Friday is my problem child. He knows the routine…he just doesn’t like to do it….he wants some body else to do it. He is my buck-passer. You would think that he has some allergy to the phone. He doesn’t like to pick it up.
That doesn’t stop me from harrassing him. When I have the closing shift, my very first order of business when I arrive is to look at the pile of shorts ( out of stock or insufficient stock) and I ask ( you would think he might figure this out but he doesn’t) ” have you called on these??” the answer is nearly always NO. ” Then would you please get this done?” I ask, as he shuffles to the phone. Occasionally the am tech beats me to the punch, but not always.
Information is king….who ever has the information usually rules the roost. Its that way in all of business and society. Sharing certain information is not only important but courteous as well. At the very least it saves your own skin from getting screamed at. You will always carry the upper hand in any conversation if you have done your best to keep the patient informed of all developments in a timely manner.
Ive never been yelled at for keeping a patient in the loop.
I would prefer to keep it that way. I have happier patients that way.