Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Pharmacy Culture

I have been a pharmacy technician at a large chain drug store for about 14 months now. I like it except that sometimes we get butthead of the month about ten times a day. Days like that are best forgotten as soon as you can. Get it over and forget about it. Yeah!

Anyway, the day of a pharmacy technician can be pleasant or it can be hell. Our customers control this. If it is a day when all our nice customers are visiting us it will be a pleasant day. However, if it is a day of the same ten or twenty customers calling on the phone every ten minutes to see if doctor so and so has called in their prescription of Vicodin yet then it will be a day of hell on earth. Usually days like that are also accompanied by the five or ten customers you will have to explain to over and over many times that their insurance will not pay for their Valium today because they just got enough to kill an elephant 5 days ago and they should have plenty of Valium to last another 25 days. Offering to pay cash won't work either because no Pharmacist eager to keep their license will allow them to have it that early either. Also offering to pay cash instead of waiting for the insurance to pay is a sure sign of abuse, or they are selling the stuff, and most of our customers don't realize we suspect what they are up to.

I offer the following advice to all who want a smooth and friendly rapport with their pharmacy staff the next time they need a prescription filled.

1. Always have the information you know they are going to ask you for already written somewhere on the prescription where it does not interfere with what the doctor wrote, like on the back side.

2. If you can't read the doctor's writing we can't either. So don't get mad when we have to take extra time to call him to ask him what he wrote. PS: Never leave the doctor's office not knowing what he wrote.

3. Your insurance is your insurance. We don't know anything about your insurance. If we did it would be our insurance and not your insurance. In other words, we don't know why your copay is so high this month. Your pharmacy might accept your insurance but really all they know is how to make the claim for you, and not much else. It is in your best interest for you to know everything about your prescription coverage.

4. If your pharmacy has a drive thru, don't use it every time you visit. Get out, go inside and stretch your legs, chat with the pharmacy staff, if they are not too busy and forgive them if they are. You will get better service most of the time if you let them get to know you and you seem understanding of what they must be going through to get your prescriptions ready. Also remember, a pharmacy drive thru is not intended for speedy service. If you want something at a drive thru in just a few minutes, go to McDonalds. If you need your medicine right now, go inside and wait for it.

5. I can't speak for every pharmacy, but most of the time where I work we haven't been sitting on our asses until you showed up. In other words, I understand you need your medicine right away, but you aren't the only person I am filling prescriptions for at the moment. Even if the waiting area is empty, there is usually a queue or list of prescriptions to be filled on my computer screen behind the counter where you can't see.

6. If I tell you that the insurance I have on record for you has just refused to pay for your prescription because they say you are no longer covered, arguing with me about it is not going to get them to pay. However, providing me with the updated insurance information you got in the mail two months ago might get them to pay.

These six bits of pharmacy customer advice should enable you to better enjoy your future visits to the pharmacy. I know if every patron who comes to our pharmacy would adhere to them a lot more of my days there would be a lot less stressful.


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