Yes, we're one of the most trusted professions, but we're treated with much less respect now than we used to be. When people come into Goofmart Pharmacy, do the script push across the counter, and tell me they're going to be back for their prescription in five minutes (without having any idea of the current situation or how many people are ahead of them in line), it shows the lack of respect people have for our profession. When people tell me that all I have to do is "slap a label on it," it shows the lack of respect people have for our profession. When people come in after having seen the doctor ten minutes ago expect their prescription to be filled and ready to pick up, it shows the lack of respect people have for our profession.
In some cases it might just be a matter of having had enough of waiting. When people go to their doctor, wait fifteen minutes to get taken to an exam room, wait another ten minutes to actually see the doctor, then get only five minutes with the doctor and given a handful of scripts, they've had enough. They don't want to wait anymore, and I can't blame them. But a patient can't go through this routine and then expect things to magically accelerate at the pharmacy. Yes, your doctor did see you and prescribed a medication. BUT we're not only filling your prescription, we're ALSO making sure it is safe for you, is appropriate for you, and making sure you're getting the right medication. That's our job and whether you like it or not, this part takes time too.
The e-Script system reduces a little of the workload in the process. By eliminating some of the issues doctors have with writing clearly (there's so many of them you can't possibly imagine) the e-Script system has introduced a new set of issues. Office staff that are untrained with the system or don't know the medications that well (such as the difference between immediate release and extended release) gum up the process quickly. Unfortunately, because of the way the doctor office works, getting it fixed rapidly is almost impossible. For a patient that thinks we have a magic phone line which instantly connects us to the prescriber, any additional wait time seems ridiculous to him or her.
My biggest complaint with the e-Script system is not the system itself, but the way patients perceive it. In some cases, this perception is created by the doctor. I have had patients tell me, patients who actually know better, that their doctor will fiddle on the computer with their prescription and announce to them, "Ok, I sent it over. It's ready. Go get it." In other cases, patients themselves think that once the doctor hits the SEND button a label prints out on our end and a team of technicians instantly fills the prescriptions. I have had to tell too many people that sometimes it can take up to an hour before we ever see it on our end. "But I saw my doctor send it" they say, not knowing that it's not like email. Even if it was like email, who checks their email every 30 seconds? (Yes, I know there's some people that do check their email every 30 seconds. I'm talking about NORMAL people).
If we're going to return some respect to our profession, we as pharmacists need to stop these incorrect perceptions. I have patients who are also doctors for other patients. I do my part by gently telling them how our side of the process works. If you're a pharmacist, I encourage you to do the same. When you get a patient that runs in expecting a prescription to be ready for them when they walk in and you determine that the doctor has given them the idea that it would be ready for them immediately, take some time to call the office and again, GENTLY tell them how it works. Tell them how much you appreciate the fact that they care for our patients, BUT that you're not running a fast food operation. If you're nice, you'll get a message across eventually.
As for patients, do your part to train them as well. Decide on a wait time with your staff depending on various situations and stick to it. Exceptions can and should be made for crying babies, but don't push yourself and risk patient safety just because they're in a hurry. Patient safety is paramount, and it is what we're all about as pharmacists. Don't let your company bully you. Don't let metrics pressure you. Don't let whiny patients coerce you. Do what is right for the patient by carefully checking each and every prescription.
Only then will the respect for our profession return.