Thursday, December 18, 2014

Don't Forget to Tip Your Pharmacist this Holiday Season!

That's right, it's the holidays! 

You tip the mail carrier, your yard guy, and your kid's teachers, but do any of them keep you alive?


Your pharmacist keeps you alive by making sure your medications are correct, appropriate, and safe for you.

What better way to show your appreciation than by gifting your pharmacist and/or pharmacy with gifts, goodies, gift cards, cash, and love?

Don't forget your pharmacy this year! Happy Holidays!

Don't know what to tip the service people in your life? Here's an article to help you.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Changing Just ONE WORD...

So I came across this crazy religious tract the other day. I changed one word to show how I feel about retail pharmacy. You might agree if you work retail.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What is a FORMULARY?

In the United States, a formulary is the list of medications available to someone enrolled in a specific drug insurance program.

Usually a "tiered" system is in place as an incentive for patients to select lower-cost medications. Under a three tier system (the most common), first tier has the least expensive generic drugs and the lowest co-pay. As the medication cost increases, it is listed in a higher tier and thus has a higher co-pay. Usually the third tier has most brand-name medications and the highest co-pay.

The formularies are in place to help insurance manage drug costs imposed on the insurance policy. If the drug is not on the formulary, it usually requires a "prior authorization" -- meaning the insurance company wants to talk to the prescriber to see if there is a lower-cost alternative for the patient. Formularies vary from plan to plan and insurance to insurance. Co-pays vary as well.

Your pharmacy has no control over your insurance, your formulary, or your co-pay. As a courtesy we bill the insurance electronically in your behalf. Within seconds we receive information on if your claim was paid and the amount of your co-pay. Sometimes we get a reject saying "prior authorization" required or the medication your insurance will pay for.

You can always find out if a medication is on your formulary by calling your drug insurance company or looking on their website. Your pharmacist has no way of knowing what is on your formulary without a valid prescription to adjudicate.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Stare Because You Care

"Ok, everyone look at the person next to you and keep staring until I tell you to stop."

This was an activity we participated in at recent "mandatory" meeting at the corporate office. This was an exercise The Authorities did to help use up time to turn a 3-4 hour meeting into an 8 hour meeting. And of course, since The Authorities view us as children instead of healthcare professionals, what better way to get a point across than to use a Kindergarten-type activity?

The point of the exercise was to show us how two minutes of staring at each other feels like it is a lot longer than two minutes. On average (apparently they've spent money studying this instead of giving us more tech hours) a customer has to wait two whole minutes before being acknowledged at Goofmart Pharmacy. Oh, the horror!

"Did you feel uneasy? Did you feel ignored? Imagine how your customers feel while they're waiting to be recognized in your pharmacy!"

Of course, nothing was mentioned about the 2-3 minutes WE (both pharmacist/tech AND patient) have to wait on occasion when our computer software freezes when we're trying to input a new prescription. This happens EVERY day and most often during the critical drop off/pick up times.

Nothing was mentioned about the FIVE minutes the entire workflow is halted (for patients and pharmacy) when we call for a manager override and have to wait before a manager gets to the pharmacy. Talk about feeling "uneasy."

I wonder if the brain trust actually thought about WHY people would be waiting for help at the pharmacy to begin with? Duh! If we had adequate staffing, NO ONE would ever have to wait at the pharmacy!

One thing about this object lesson did work. It pissed me and a whole bunch of other pharmacists off. Good job.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Recognizing Good Deeds

Awhile back I attended a "mandatory" meeting at the corporate office. This was one of those meetings where The Authorities waste an entire day telling us stuff they could have easily emailed or faxed or handled in a "mandatory" conference call. 

Since they've made everyone come to these meetings, they find things to use up the time allotted. One thing they do to fill up the day is recognize a few people and pat them on the back for a job well done. And I suppose that's a good thing, especially for the ego of the people getting the recognition.

"We'd like to recognize Dr. Mary Goodypharm, the staff pharmacist out in Ruraltown. A recent email from a customer writes how Dr. Goodypharm went out of her way to deliver a medication to a customer who couldn't come down to the pharmacy. This is exactly the kind of pharmacists we need at Goofmart Pharmacy. Let's all give Mary a round of applause."

The Authorities went on for a good 15-20 minutes highlighting the good deeds of various pharmacists in our state's Goofmart network. People applauded. We're all one big happy fleet.

And you know what, they are good deeds. They deserve recognition, for sure.

But it also occurred to me... for every story and good deed I heard that day... every instance and example of going "up and beyond" the normal call of the pharmacist... well, not to toot my own horn, but I've done all the same things myself at my pharmacy. None of my patients (to me, they're patients, not customers) sent in a thank you for my good deeds, and that's ok because I wasn't seeking recognition anyway. It's just part of my job.

The real point I'm getting at is that The Authorities must not be aware that we have all gone out of our way in one way or another for our patients. I'm not anyone special. I'm just your regular old boring pharmacist like most every other boring pharmacist out there. I've stuck my neck out for people, delivered medications to homes of elderly ladies who can't drive. I've driven all over town to pick up a medication at another Goofmart for someone in dire need. I've opened early. I've stayed late. I've called and fought with doctors and insurance in behalf of patients. I've personally saved lives, and sometimes without the patient even knowing it. And so has every other pharmacist and pharmacy technician.

We all need recognition as professionals, as part of a healthcare team, as the final and crucial step in the safety chain to protect and counsel patients. If you're a pharmacist or pharmacy technician, I know you've done a lot more than you've been asked to do.

We all deserve recognition. So let me say THANK YOU for all that you do, in secret, behind the scenes, or without any other recognition.

Friday, December 12, 2014