Thursday, November 15, 2012

Please trust the automation... PLEASE

Ok, so I told you about our Auto Refill system.

For those of you not paying attention (and those of you from Idaho), let me explain again. You others can skip the next paragraph.

The company developed an addition to our computer system called Auto Refill.  Just as the name implies, it will automatically print labels for patients two days before they (normally) run out of medication. This is a brilliant system, win-win for both patient and pharmacist. For the patient, they don't have to do any thinking... just come in when you run out of your medication and it is there on the shelf waiting for you. If you forget after a few days, the system automatically calls you to remind you. Plus, if you are out of refills, it will automatically fax the doctor for a refill, providing seamless drug therapy. For the pharmacist, it prints out a stack of labels two days ahead of time and we can fill them during down times in the pharmacy. And the BEST feature is that people who for whatever reason are afraid to type in their Rx number when they dial the pharmacy and then get connected to the pharmacist/tech and bug us during business times; now they don't have to bother.

I'd like to think that this system is completely altruistic in terms of helping the patient and the pharmacist, but I'm sure it is more of a form of "push technology" to get more business. Cha-Ching. I can certainly attest that I have presented a medication on Auto Refill to various patients who didn't really want the medication but took it anyway because it was filled and ready, Cha-Ching.

What has been helpful is that with a lot of people, it has stopped the monthly telephone calls to give us their Rx number. Here's a sample:

Ring-Ring, Ring-Ring, Ring-Ring

Me (answering before the 4th ring because THAT would be rude not to. Corporate said so):

"Pharmacy, may I help you?"

Patient: "Yes, I want to refill my prescription, but I don't have the Rx number."

Me, hearing the bottle of medication make noise as it rattles in their hand (yes, we CAN hear that over the phone, by the way): "Ok, what's the medication?"

Patient:  "Hy-dro-clor-ROT."

(The label is too short to print the entire name of hydrochlorothiazide, so it is abbreviated, but they don't know that, and they always emphasize the "ROT")

Me: "Ok, we'll get that ready for you..."

Now instead of that exchange, we get this one:

Ring-Ring, Ring-Ring, Ring-Ring

Me. "Pharmacy, may I help you?"

Lady: "Yes, I just had a call from your automated thingy saying I have a prescription ready to pick up?  I didn't know I had anything there.  Is it my Alprazadonastatin?"

Me:  "Yes, it's your Atorvastatin.  You don't have to call us... just come in and get it."

Next month... same thing happens with same patient. So instead of calling us to give us the number, they call us to tell us they're going to pick it up. I even had one lady say she talked to the computer. Seriously, she says she talked to the computer and the computer replied.


Anonymous said...

I realize automated systems may be helpful to some customers, but I hate them. I got three phone messages in as many days, reminding me to renew a med that I actually take PRN (yes, by doc's order) and was nowhere near ready to renew. I told them politely to take me off the call list and have happily never heard from them since.

Crazy RxMan said...

I can appreciate that, and at my pharmacy we immediately take anyone off the call list who doesn't want the reminder calls. It is an opt in and opt out service, and when someone complains I do ask them if they want me to stop the phone calls. Most of the time they say no, they still want the calls, even if they're getting multiple calls.

What is really difficult about the system is that it doesn't account for the fact that a lot of people miss a few days on their medication, so when it pops up for refill at 30 days, it appears to the patient that it is being filled early when it really isn't. They just don't take their meds as directed.