Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Me Want Cookie

The neon sign on my local "Pharmacy America Trusts" reads "Dr. Siegal's Cookie Diet $59.99."

Say what? They sure have some wacky products in those WAG stores, don't they? Apparently on this diet you eat 6 of these cookies during the day, and then you're allowed to have, y'know, a 'sensible' dinner. I imagine anyone who could actually stick to this would indeed lose weight. That 59.99 price buys one week worth of cookies. Seems a little pricey to me.

I bet they're selling like crazy -- that's why it's up in lights.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

By All Means, Move at a Glacial Pace

On a day last week at one of our smaller pharmacies (one pharmacist, 1 & 1/2 techs) we seemed extremely busy all day. Between the phone, cash register, new scripts and continuing January insurance issues there was no time to spare. At the end of the day, I look at the prescription totals, and I can't believe it --- you know, it says 110 prescriptions and if feels like 500.

What's frustrating is that the people at corporate look at JUST that number when allocating staffing and resources. You can't explain to them that it's not a true representation of how 'busy' you are. One of my 1 & 1/2 techs is lost to me on the cash register much of the time.
Endless phone calls are taken and made (mostly to insurances) and this eats up SO much time. We are bogged down in ordering procedures and the labor-intensive process of preparing mail-out prescriptions and calling people when their credit cards decline, etc... stuff that has nothing to do with filling prescriptions.

I can handle all that, but I can't change a staff member who is just inherently SLOW. This, I've realized, is probably our biggest problem. Somehow a simple, run-of-the-mill Vicodin script takes 10 minutes to produce in a finished form. I've got other techs who can enter/count/fill/label it in literally 90 seconds. In pharmacy, that's the way it has to be. You've got to be able to MOVE faster. And I mean physically, too. There are some people that just saunter around at the same pace all the time, completely oblivious to the situation crashing down around them. There are times when I want to holler, Come on, LET'S GO !!!!!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR ??????

Believe me, I don't believe we all have to run around like little jack-rabbits all the time.
But have you ever been waiting on a bank teller, or a receptionist, or a sales clerk who's moving at a glacial pace right in front of you? Just makes me a little crazy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Like Simplicity

Little hiatus there...... some family obligations over the holidays and then attempted to go someplace warm for a week. It was NOT warm. I'm actually glad to be back to the normal routine..

Anyways, the other day I was faced with working at a pharmacy where most of the 'regular staff' were off for the day. Even though I know the place fairly well, I absolutely DREAD this.

It never turns out well. Invariably, something comes up that only one of the 'regulars' knows about. Or we really need to find something and no one knows where it is. The fill-in staff will 'kind of' know some of the procedures but there are some serious gaps, or they just don't know how it's done at that particular store. I can't help them, because I never do those tasks -- it's always done by the regular technician and I am rarely involved in any way. Now all of a sudden all those people are off, and everything is supposed to run smoothly? Never. It's always a disaster. Even if the prescription volume is totally normal, everything is a struggle.

On a day like this, you can count on some customer coming in to follow up on a conversation they had with an (absent) staff member 3 weeks ago, and expecting all of us to be instantly familiar with what they are talking about.

"He said he would order that soap for me and put it aside. I always get it here."
"She was going to call my insurance and then run everything through."
"He was getting a vacation override for me and mailing my meds, but I didn't get them yet."

I find this incredibly irritating because I just don't have time to figure out what someone else might or might not have done. And maybe the person actually DID do what they were supposed to, but they don't leave a paper trail, a note in the computer, ANYTHING. They special order something for a customer and leave it in the LAST place I would ever think of looking. Or they don't bother calling a customer and saying, "All those meds you ordered are too soon to refill, so DON'T COME IN."

A customer will come in claiming they are owed a big refund after an insurance re-bill. We waste 15 minutes scouring the pharmacy for evidence of this and finally find a barely legible 2 X 2 post-it note stuck to the side of the pick up bin. There's GOTTA be a better way.

But it's not always the staff's fault. Some of our procedures have become so freakkin'
complicated (drug order, closing the register out, various 'logs', etc) that unless you do it EVERY single day you are literally pulling out the Manual and starting at square one.... if you have a manual, that is, and it's not written in total gibberish.

I desperately wish we could simplify things and keep procedures uniform across all our pharmacies. I wish people would do things knowing that someone else has got to be able to understand what they did. If there's some weird thing with a customer's insurance or some other crazy thing that only one staff member knows about, for God's sake put a note in the computer! It will save us so much time and aggravation. There's a lot of automation in pharmacy now, but so much of it is still human-being labor-intensive, and the human beings keep a-changing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

January: Wash, Rinse & Repeat

"I want to get some prescriptions refilled and I have new insurance."

Me: OK, what is the insurance?

"It's BigBoyHMO but I don't have a card yet."

Me: Well, I would probably just need your I.D. number.

"Well, they haven't sent me a card yet and I need to refill these now, because I didn't refill them last month because I didn't have insurance."

Me: To bill them to insurance I will probably at least need your I.D. number. We can get them filled and you can bring the information when you come and get them.

" I need to know the prices though. I think generics are $5 but I need to know what the brand name copays are."

Me: (reaching for my Harry Potter divining hat to ascertain her copays): Stop this merry-go-round, I'm getting nauseous.