Monday, May 1, 2017

Not-So-GoodRx Part I

GoodRx is not so good for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians. We are already overworked. The higher the number of prescriptions filled and checked per pharmacist shift, the higher the error rate. This is a fact. (See LINK). Pharmacy profit is driven by metrics, and one of those key metrics is the number of prescriptions filled in a specific time frame.

So what does GoodRx have to do with that?

GoodRx requires extra time in the filling process. It's a lot like having patients change their insurance information EVERY time they fill a prescription. The GoodRx information, (BIN, PCN, Group, and ID number) must be added to the patient's profile with each new prescription. Even if that's not really true, patients think so and argue that they want the separate info put in for each prescription. Naturally, patients with regular insurance or the in-house discount only go through this process one time. 

Using GoodRx adds time and stress to the burden already experienced by the pharmacy crew to fill prescriptions in minimal time. 

When a pharmacy team member spends extra time fussing with GoodRx nonsense the entire crew ends up hurrying with other prescriptions to meet their quota, and THAT compromises patient safety! Essentially what GoodRx is promoting is a "lower" price over patient safety.

Does GoodRx really add time to the process?

Let's examine what I'm talking about. I've had to deal with the nonsense of GoodRx since they've started, and this side by side comparison of with/without is not an exaggeration:

In this illustration the time to fill is more than doubled because of the extra time wasted by the GoodRx "model." Obviously this isn't the case with every prescription, but in every case GoodRx does add time to the filling process. Don't believe me? Ask any pharmacist or technician.

I did on Twitter. This isn't a scientific poll, but clearly it shows that 79% the respondents have experienced an increase in time to fill the prescription:

What makes it worse is the proliferation of OTHER discount cards added to the process. Any pharmacist or pharmacy technician will tell you about patients that bring in two or three (or more) discount cards and ask that each discount be tried for each individual medication. This is extremely time-consuming and tedious. It adds time to the filling process and it takes time away from a technician that could be filling other prescriptions. In reality, the entire discount card nonsense is putting patient safety at risk.

Why is GoodRx not so good for pharmacies?

Todd Pendergraft, an independent pharmacy owner, goes into great detail how these discount cards hurt pharmacy owners. Click to see this VIDEO or watch it here:

Because independent pharmacists feel like they have to take GoodRx to be competitive, they end up losing money. In the case of chain pharmacies, contracts with Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) require that pharmacies accept GoodRx as part of their contract agreement. 

Does GoodRx (and the other discount cards) really save that much money?

Hundreds of dollars? Really? 

No, not really. ABC News 15 news channel did a comparison of savings with these discount cards. The actual savings to consumers averaged 16%, not 80% as GoodRx will tell you. (See LINK).

So let's say for the average person the average cash price of a medication is $30. That's actually high. The average cash outlay per person for an average selection of medications is about $150 per year (See LINK). But let's go with the $30. At 16% that's a whopping savings of $4.80... as I said, over and over, it's just a few bucks. 

Is it really worth overworking the pharmacy staff and jeopardizing patient safety for a few bucks?

There will be more about GoodRx in tomorrow's blog post Not-so-GoodRx Part II

Here's the LINK.


Anonymous said...

rarely do i get the coupon at the drop off window. its usually at the pick up counter once everything is done and they do not want to go to the drop off window to have a different tech to assist. they want it done then right there, and the whole time the line just gets get longer and longer......

The ironic part is the people in line get upset its taking so long, then when they get to the front, they have their own GoodRx coupon. FML!

Anonymous said...

I was really with you for a good chunk of your post but you lost me when you said the average medication costs $30. Anytime I've had an issue with my insurance and offered to pay cash and get reimbursed from insurance later the cash price has been $100+ even for a two week supply and that is of various meds. I find it hard to believe the average med is $30.

Meds I believe I've had this issue with:
Protonix (over 5 years ago)
Adderall generic (leaving aside the side eye for offering to pay cash. Glad I know longer need it.)

Also pet meds that humans also take:

Hildy said...

First, train people who work the drop-off window to ASK if the client has any coupons, also making the comment that if they don't tell the pharmacy in advance, they can't use them when they pick up. (And the hell with a complaint and gift card. Save yourself first.)

Second, the real problem is not that there are coupons, it is that your managers do not factor in extra-time issues when evaluating metrics. You really can't expect people who are using a coupon to save money to decide instead that your pharmacy's profit, your workload and the potential safety of strangers should persuade them to discontinue use of a discount service. If you want to discourage use of gift cards, you have to provide incentive, like the prescription automatically takes longer, or there is a surcharge for extra processing. As to complaining customers, I, personally, always dealt with them by repeatedly saying "I absolutely agree with you!" (until they stopped, no matter what they complained out) "Here is my manager's email address and corporate address. You should write to him because you make excellent points!" It diffuses their need to whine because you've been sympathetic and transfers the annoyance to your manage, who deserves it because he allows you to be overwhelmed and stressed by complaints about things you have no control over.

Anonymous said...

you can ask for the copupon at the drop off window all you want. they usually dont have one and you just gave them the idea to go get one, or they left it at home and will bring it back. my favorite is when they left it in the car and are too lazy to go get it right now.

was1 said...

the whole promise of save 'up to 80%' is a crock of bullshit, too. rarely have i seen any discount coupon save the customer more than what i was willing to charge as the 'friends and family' price. if you go to one of the big 3 chains (big greedy, big liar, big stupid) you might see some savings off of their over inflated cash prices. but if you deal with your local independent pharmacist you will always get a good cash price in addition to the best service and all your pharmacy related health information will still be protected.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I save about $2000.00 a year with the discount cards. We use about 3. Once they're in the system they don't have to keep putting in the info.