Monday, January 11, 2016


The patient dials the pharmacy phone number.

It rings.

Our system answers the call.

"Thank you for calling Goofmart Pharmacy, located at 123 Easy Street in Snootyville. We give flu shots daily whenever you want one."

"To refill a prescription, press ONE." (when pressed, the caller will be directed to enter the Rx number).

"If this a prescriber, press TWO." (when pressed, the doc will be directed how to leave a voicemail).

"For store hours and location, press THREE." (hours and location, including any holidays, will be given).

"To speak to a member of our staff, press FOUR."

"To hear this message again, press NINE."

That's what the caller hears. Then this is what happens on our side:

Ring... ring.

We answer the phone, "Thanks for calling Goofmart Pharmacy, how may I help you?"

And this is when we get one of the following:

"I need to refill my prescription. The number is 93934939."


"I need to call in a prescription. The patient is John Doe, Amoxicillin 500mg...."


"Where are you located?"


"What time do you close?"


"Are you open today?"


"Do you give flu shots?"

Or some such other nonsense that could have been handled using the automated system without bugging the pharmacy staff.

I know, not a big deal, right? YES, IT IS A BIG DEAL. When we're in the middle of chaos at the pharmacy, it's blood and guts everywhere trying to keep up. Each phone call takes 3-5 minutes. And it never stops. We get at least 30 phone calls a day over things that can be handled WITHOUT bothering the pharmacist or technician. 

Some simple math... 30 calls a day at 3 minutes per call. That's 90 minutes... 90 minutes that could be used to check and fill prescriptions and ensure the safety and efficacy of each one.

So the next time you call your pharmacy, try some of the automated services first. And guess what, YOU can also do these SAME things using the Internet or a downloadable app!


Anonymous said...

I wish I could use the system to plug in my Rx and be on my way. A lot of the time it just doesn't work with a relay operator even if I have everything ready beforehand. Thankfully I don't think my pharmacist hates me too much for calling and talking to a live person.

Pretty Pittie said...

And us consumers would be happy to use the automated service... if we could ever find one that we could trust. I can't tell you how many times I've done the automated refill thing... works about half the time at my local pharmacy. Hours? Never any change in the recording to update for holiday hours. If they ever moved I'm sure they wouldn't update than information either!

technorantia said...

Solutions: transfer anyone who has an interaction that can be handled by the automated system back to the main number, and don't reward the bad behaviour. Repeat until they get it.

jbt369 said...

I refilled a prescription today. I'm ridiculously healthy, and I've never done that before. From reading this blog, I know that things will be better for me and the pharmacy if I give plenty of lead time.

I called the number on the little bottle, and was directed to an automated system. I punched in all the numbers they asked for, and when I went in hours later to pick it up, it was ready and waiting. All I had to do was swipe in my payment card, and I was on my way.

It was wonderful.