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.


Grumpy, M.D. said...

Yeah, the simpler it's supposed to get, the worse it seems to get.

Phathead said...

One of the first pharmacists I worked with taught me to 'Document, document, document'. If I order something for someone, I leave a note stating what it is and who its for. If I was working on a problem, I leave a message describing it.

It annoys the hell out of some of my coworkers, but at least they're aware of what's going on.

Pharmacist Erin said...

Amen! Good post - I leave lots and lots of notes on customer profiles but my co-workers are typically blind and ignore them. Then they get mad at me. I'll answer with "Well I put a note on the Rx/profile." They reply with, "yeaaaah, I don't read those." Then read them!!!! That frustrates me to no end.