As you might figure, being courteous is required in any job that deals with the public, as it should be. we should be courteous people in every aspect of our lives but sadly we aren’t. I am amazed at things I see while perusing the internet. Surreptitious videos that people have taken of other’s bad bad behavior go viral after only a few days on the net. Insults are hurled in comments on blogs and news articles…fights break out on facebook and message boards. I am not totally immune, as I have been known to snap back a bit at people who have made rude comments on my own blog…but then again, its MY blog. I own it.
That being said, in the pharmacy world, we need and should expect some courtesy from people who choose to do business with us. I recently came to work one day to see a script in the auto fill queue for a lady’s birth control pill. Last month she had called and complained that she didn’t like the new manufacturer we had given her. Fair enough. We purchase on contract and that is our contracted item. I told her I ‘d be happy to return it, and transfer it to a store of her choosing, as my options are few when it comes to contracted purchasing. We dont get to pick and choose our generics. So, when I saw this rx in the queue, I did a history check and I noticed she never returned it. I filled the script, and called her home to ask if she was happy with the rx…does she want this one..yada yada. I got her husband on the phone. “Yup, thats a question for her, she is at work, her number is 544-555-1212. “. I called her cell, and got her message machine so I left as detailed of message I could do under HIPAA. I asked her to call me back. tick tick tick…After about 5 pm, I called her home again, and got another message machine. This time I just reiterated what I had said earlier and said ” your script is ready as is, if you dont want it, please let me know”.
Never heard back from her. I just had to assume the answer was yes.
Is it too much to ask for a simple call? We get rejections every day for insurance issues, and each of them is handled with a courtesy call to the patient requesting either more information ( new card perhaps), or suggestions to call the doc for substitution ( non covered items). Most of the time I feel as if I have spoken into a black hole. Sometimes I will even ask ” did you get my call?” and often I hear ” yea, i saw you left a message, but I didn’t listen to it..is my script ready?” AARGH! if you listened to the message you would know its not ready..and why!
Last week, after sending 4 faxes to a doctors office with no answer and getting ripped a new one by the patient ( because obviously its MY fault even tho I left him a message telling him he may want to call the office). I called and left a message. ” PLEASE, we need this refill, either ok or denied. The patient is being a bit of a jerk about it and blaming us and we both know we cant fill it without some kind of response from your office. ” About a half out later she finally called back and was snippy and rude to me telling me I shouldn’t call my patients “jerks”. I told her I didn’t call HIM a jerk…he was BEING a jerk in his behavior towards our staff.. and frankly it shouldn’t take 7 days to do a simple refill.. so is it approved?
We have our own guidelines of courtesy that we follow each day. We make courtesy calls when we are out of stock on merchandise..we call when we need addtional information prior to filling a script. We call when its not covered or needs a prior auth. Any opportunity that makes it less likely to have somebody pissed at us is one I am willing to take! But more often than not, I leave messages that are never returned.
I need customers to understand that we are not a fast food restaurant. We dont waste your time because we dont have time to waste ourselves. If we call YOU to ask a question, we need an answer…and that answer will often decide when and if your prescription is ready. Same goes for the dr’s offices…if we ask for some information, its not because we hate you…its because we NEED it…to take care of YOUR patients.. For instance, a patient with a mouth full of cotton brought me a script written for Norco. No strength…Just Norco. I called the office and hoped I’d get an answer immediately for this patient whose mouth was getting bloodier by the minute. What did I get? ” He is with a patient, we will call you later…” LATER??
With the electronic age firmly ensconced in the pharmacy now, it sets us up for an entire new set of needs: E script clarification. Ive had e scripts sent for massages, IUD’s , “Unknown drug” ( yea, go figure how THAT got sent), duplicate rx’s with differing directions… Multiple rx’s with different strengths of same meds. Missing sigs, vague sigs, nonsensical sigs…etc. Makes you wonder if anybody ever reads them before they hit “send”. Each one has to be printed and sent back for clarification which sadly can take up to a day…when it really shouldnt.
health care isn’t going to get any easier..in fact its going to be more and more complicated as we move further and further into the future. We have so many i’s to dot and t’s to cross that I have to make sure I’ve documented everything before I sign it off. And if that requires a phone call or a need for more information, please..at the very least..entend that courtesy to us. It will make for a better experience for everyone!