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I'm Not a Druggie

February 10, 2009
by Stacey Kramer
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I always reorder prescriptions by phoning them into the automated system. I put my pills in a case, which I refill once-a-week. And while I like the phone system very much, there is something missing from the process. You see, although it’s very conveinient to call in my prescription refill at 1 a.m., and it’s reassuring when I reach the prompt that says that my prescription will be refilled, I’m not satisfied or fooled into thinking everything is copacetic. What the system doesn’t do is tell me if the pharmacy is out of the drug (they always are), and if the pharmacy needs to wait for the warehouse delivery (they always do. I know you’re thinking, why do I go there, but it’s local, what’s why.) What the fancy system doesn’t say is that I should be prepared to wait until the drug arrives. What it doesn’t say is that I have a small window of time when my insurance will pay for more meds and when the pharmacy is going to get it in. Automated systems are nice, but they’re not so automated if you need to constantly try to outsmart them and be one step ahead.

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CVS has a system that allows you to order your medication online and set a time you would like to pick it up. Unfortunately, what they don't have yet is real time price adjudication with the insurance company so you can see the price online when you order the medication. To their credit, they have called me on the phone when I've needed to bring a new insurance card, or something like that. But I would love to see the cost of the medication, as per the insurance company, right online when I place the order. That way, it would allow people to call their insurance companies BEFORE they go to the pharmacy if the price the see is wrong, rather than taking up 30 minutes of the pharmacists time as they engage in a ridiculous three-part discussion (with the insurance company rep on the phone) as the line stretches down the painkillers aisle.

Absolutelyand Rite Aid does, too, though no phone call for me about cards. For that matter, I'd like the system to tell me how many refills I have left, and if it's too early to refill, tell me the proper date and call me then or just fill it then and notify me. Maybe I'm asking for too much.

Thanks. That's a really good point. Hospitals are looking to take the lead from hotels and concierge services. It only makes sense that pharmacies should, too, which would translate to more user-friendly services like having your medication ready for you when promised.

Thanks Stacey. It's these kinds of practical realities that get lost in a White-boarded workflow. Sounds like pharmacies could learn a thing or two from retailers like Wal-Mart, which have a reputation for World-class inventory management capabilities.

stacey

Stacey Kramer is Managing Editor of Healthcare Informatics. She writes feature stories and...