Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What's It Worth to You?

It's a weird business we're in, this medicine stuff.  In my oft-repeated role as a highly-paid cashier, I am tasked with telling people how much their medicine purchase totals up to.  In any other retail situation, we approach the cashier with a pretty good idea of how much we're going to pay.  In pharmacy-- not so much, because there is usually a 3rd party payer involved who picks up some of the tab -- a lot or a little, thus leaving a lot or a little for us to CO-pay.

People's definition of what a "lot or a little" is can be surprising, to say the least.  This week I had a customer fork out $180 for a topical steroid product without batting an eye.  Later on I checked someone out with four prescriptions, including some moderately pricey stuff, and his copay was $6.00. "WOW!!" he exclaimed, in all seriousness.  "You guys are gonna BREAK me!"

I don't know where people got the idea that all medications should be cheap.  (and actually, a lot of them are.)  But something that is potentially life-saving, life changing, and keeps you out of the hospital (where $6.00 wouldn't even get you into the parking ramp?)  Don't make me feel like some kind of shyster for asking for your payment.

YOU can decide what it's worth to you.

Monday, July 21, 2014

View from behind the counter today was not pretty

We are desperately trying to close up and go home.  Everyone is tired, hungry and irritable after a long day.  But the electronic prescriptions keep pouring in, so we can't just hand the piece of paper back to the customer and say, "Sorry, if you need this tonight you'll have to go elsewhere. We are closed."
We finally finish up, and I realize that probably 50% of the prescriptions that kept me and my staff overtime were for things like Claritin, and Miralax, and Tylenol -- over the counter stuff.

OK, I know. This is a pet peeve of mine.  I used to think that as a pharmacist, I would be dealing primarily with prescription drugs.  Sure, I would give advice on over- the-counter products, but ultimately these would be customer self-selected.  Someone would come in thinking "I need something for my allergies" (or kid's diaper rash, or flaky skin, stuffy nose, constipation, sore shoulder, etc. etc.) They would go to the section marked "Cold and Allergy" (or some such designation),  peruse the products, read the labeling and make a decision -- and ask me or my staff a question or two if necessary.  I wonder if those people exist anymore.  I think everyone goes to the doctor for everything now, and the proliferation of the Doc-In-A-Box outlets probably makes it even worse.   Nobody can read labeling, or instructions for use, or precautions.  They refuse to take the time.  I just wish people could keep things in perspective, when others around the world are living in tents and scratching for food and dodging rockets and burying their dead.

Prescriptions that don't get picked up within a certain period of time have to be returned to stock.
I am astounded by the number of these we put back every week. Why were they never picked up? Remember when getting a prescription was kind of a big deal?  SOMEONE had to call in that refill. SOMEONE sat there in that doctor's office.  By never picking up that prescription you have wasted everyone's time, and lots and lots of money.   WHY???

I got a call from someone who said she hadn't been checking her blood sugars for several months, but decided she should start doing it again.  Therefore, I needed to call her doctor, get a new prescription for test strips, and then I needed to see that the strips were mailed to her.   Yeah, I know -- I'm supposed to act for the welfare of the patient and see that she gets her diabetes supplies so she can test her blood sugar and be well and all that.   Why do I feel like SHE should be doing this though?

Wastefulness and entitlement.  Sometimes you feel like you see nothing else. I sure wish we Americans could have some sort of revelation.  I wish we could lose some weight too.