The other day I was on the other side of town and needed something. There wasn't a Goofmart Grocery close by (I'm such a loyal employee) so I had to visit a competitor, Flea Circus Drugs. They're our biggest competitor in the tri-county area, so it was also an opportunity to spy on the competition. I walked by their pharmacy. I was quite surprised to see some signage that they have. One sign was at the register. One was on a standing sign near their drop off window. A third was just slapped on the wall:
Their corporate people, in their infinite wisdom, apparently can see the future. Apparently they see an epidemic coming this flu season? Naw, there's something else going on. This is about money. What better way to line their pockets than to cause panic among the pharmacy patrons with signage like this. Let's scare people into getting a flu shot now by pretending there is a pandemic. I mentioned my observation to a friend. She didn't see it as any different than Walmart stocking shelves with Christmas items in September. But I see it differently. No one dies from buying a Christmas gift early, but there IS the potential for someone to get the flu shot early and it loses potency in that person's body by the time they're exposed to the current flu virus. A rare possibility? Yeah. But possible. Moreover, I really take issue with a company that's trying to instill fear in the public by using signage like this. That's really immoral. I wonder how long it will be before Goofmart Pharmacy sends out the same type of sign for us to use.
Today a man described TO ME the woes of his getting testosterone injections.
He says one of his testicles shriveled up then completely disappeared over a six month time period. He described it like when The Great Gazoo (Fred Flintstone's alien friend) snaps his fingers to make something disappear. Now the imagery is difficult to erase from my mind. I'm not on testosterone injections, but now I lie awake at night worrying that The Great Gazoo will appear and snap his fingers... and well... they're gone. I can guarantee that you don't have to listen to stories like this in your profession.
What's here? Flu shots. Already? Yes. Start pushing them. Get that money in here. Momma needs a new pair of shoes. It's too early to give flu shots. No, it's not. Harvard Medical School says the best time is "anytime." See: LINK. NOW is anytime, so push the flu shots. I read that article. What it actually says is "anytime you can." That's not the same thing. The article goes on to say the ideal time is October. No, push them now. We want to get the business before Wagmart and Flea Circus Drugs. This is about protecting our patients before they do. So what you really mean is that it's about money. Whatever. Just push the flu shots. The Center for Disease Control says to get the vaccination before the flu starts spreading in our area. We really don't see the flu in our area until December or January. This coincides with the CDC saying to get by the end of October at the latest. That seems more in line with having the patient best protected for the flu season. Pushing the flu shot now is not truly what's best for our patients. See LINK. Listen, bud, you work for a company that NEEDS this revenue stream to survive. Just push the flu shots, pill boy. We seemed to survive as a pharmacy for decades before flu shots were ever given by pharmacists. More likely this is just a cash cow for the company. And since it's so lucrative, why can't the company let go with a little of that money for more tech hours, especially since offering vaccinations is a burden on the already over-worked pharmacy? Hey, don't bring logic into this. Just you never mind. Push the flu shots and do it now. We need the revenue so we can give upper managers bonuses and pay for all these gift cards we're handing out for new and transferred prescriptions. I'm a pharmacist because I care about people's health. If I'm pushing something just for revenue and not for patient care, that's not only a contradiction, it's immoral. Oh, don't be so dramatic! Besides, if your store does more immunizations than any of the other stores in your division, you'll get a free pizza lunch, paid for by the company! How's that for incentive? You are aware that the same store wins that competition every year, right? They're the ones that's one of only two pharmacies in their whole rural town. At my store, there's two pharmacies, two urgent cares, and a physician's office within walking distance. That doesn't even consider that there's even more pharmacies within a three mile radius. We can't compete with that! You're making excuses. Use that energy to push flu shots. If you increase your script count you'll get more tech hours! Now there's some incentive for you! I've seen that promised before. Somehow the follow through never seems to happen. I don't think we're communicating here. Oh, we're going to communicate! We're going to have conference calls on a weekly basis and discuss how everyone is doing with the promotion. We'll have these calls on Monday morning at 10am when you're all busy. You can skip the call if you have met that week's goals. But it's not a punishment. Oh no, don't think that. I know about the conference calls. That's where you spend 5-8 minutes taking roll and then 3-5 minutes putting some poor tech or pharmacist on the hot seat by grilling them about their "action plan." You need to get excited about the program! This is why you got into health care to begin with! To protect the public! I guess I'll just ignore this article which talks about why people shouldn't get their flu shot too early. We'll just ignore those facts. Good minion. Good. Here, have another shot of Kool Aid.
I'm not happy with the Goofmart Pharmacy software. This morning it decided to fax out requests, one after another, to all the people who asked for refill requests using the automated systems. The problem is that these were requests also made last week. Many of these requests were already made and the physicians had already approved the requests. In some cases the physician office caught the mistake and denied the refill request, sending back "Request honored last week" or "Denied -- request authorized on 8/__." But way more refill requests were authorized again. It was probably just an oversight by someone who thought maybe we didn't get the authorization last week. Who knows? There could be a million reasons.
This led to a mountain of problems for a Monday. First, the printer kept printing out authentication notices indicating that that a fax had been sent. Then the e-Script software kept bumping up the queue with responses from doctor offices. It was a Monday nightmare inside of the usual Monday nightmare! It was like the movie Inception: Pharmacy Inception. And I couldn't stop it. I called the Helpless Desk only to be told that the software was clearing out its queue and that it would be finished by the end of the day. When I told them the consequences of what was happening on our end in the actual, physical world, I was told that I could take the time to call each physician and tell them the fax they just received was incorrect. Yes, I have time for that. Sure. Sometimes I wonder if these IT nerds have any clue what happens in the real world. I left my shift on Monday 90 minutes late, mostly because of the problems caused by this computer nightmare. I have no idea if it would continue into the evening. Or maybe it will never stop.