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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Hardest Questions

It is a simple Q&A that goes down in our pharmacies.  The simplest transactions and face-to-face interactions between our staff and customers.  How is it then that the most rudimentary questions are the most difficult and often give us the largest headaches and stress of our day?  To wit:
#1.  "When do you want to come back for this?" is often followed by "when will it be ready?"  Reasonable, but wrong.  If we reply "20 minutes if you'd like to wait" and you intend to wait, then tell me you'll wait and I'll tell you 20 minutes.  If you intend to return at 6pm, tell me 6pm.  My favorite answer is "well, how long til it's ready?" and we say 20 minutes and you proceed to tell me you weren't coming back til after 7pm, something like 6 or 7 hours later or even the next day!  Just tell me "I'll be back tomorrow"!
#2.  "Have you/Has so-and-so ever filled prescriptions with us before?" we ask with all new prescriptions.  "Yes, we come here all the time." Thanks.  We appreciate the business.  I shop at Target and Wal-Mart all the time too, but I've never filled a prescription there.  It will invariably follow that your entire family is in the computer but, alas, you are not.  If you used another of our stores in another town or state, great, that will help too, just please tell us.  Now, onto the subsequent #3...
"Do you have your insurance card?"  See, everyone's insurance used to predictably change the first of the year but now we are all on a different schedule.  This means it is hard enough for me to keep my own insurance crap straight, let alone being responsible for yours and the 10,000 customers I see every month.  My favorite answer is "Of course, you have it on file because we always shop here."  Okay...I shop all the time at Best Buy, but I still need to show my credit card to walk out with my new 58" plasma.  Oh, and my wife shops all the time at Kohl's, but they don't know who the hell I am.  I still need a credit card to pay there as well.
Perhaps all of this is our fault, as a profession.  We always ask "is it on file?"  At doctor's offices and hospitals everywhere, signs are overtly placed telling you to "have insurance card ready" or "please present your new card" or there's always a box to check on some form for "new insurance?".  Now this is not idiot-proof because because we ask you to be responsible enough to read and understand.  Simply put, we need to make it mandatory that insurance and all information be in the store the same time you are.  When was the last time you went to an office or retail outlet, received your services, then said "I'll bring my card (credit or insurance) when I come back"?  Only in retail pharmacy do we allow this to happen.  This usually leads to the uproar over long waits, but that's another (already covered) topic.
We need to simply require it all the time.  Period.  It is better to have it and not need it than the alternative, right?  This way, if you don't have it you can understand why you have to wait for us to redo everything.  At least you'll know our policy.  With our profession looking like any other quick-stop retail outlet (see gas station and fast-food) we help to propagate this opinion while also asking to be taken seriously and selling out from the other side of our faces.  We need to act professionally in order to get our profession back.  There is more to it than just a few simple questions, and most will be discussed at length in other posts, but sometimes, it really is the simplest questions where we start going wrong.

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