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Friday, September 9, 2011

The Future of Pharmacy

Brothers and Sisters in Pharmacy-Dom, please allow me to show you the future.  Thank you all for being here today.  Prepare to be amazed, dazzled, awestruck, and even a little weepy.  Over the next few paragraphs I shall outline for you the business model that will revolutionize pharmacy practice as we know it.

Having spent a few years in practice and devoting my life to studying the practice of pharmacy, the general public, and the evolution of our customers from thoughtful, reverent patrons to resentful, demanding, impatient douchebags (sorry, "guests"), I have arrived at the following plan for us all.  I call it "Pharmacy As Total Healthcare (P.A.T.H.)" Licensing agreements will be available to all levels of government.

The Basic Plan:  For a regular monthly fee assessed to the patient, we will perform all of the following:

  1. Schedule you doctor's appointments for you.
  2. Go to your scheduled appointments FOR you.
  3. Get your prescriptions from these appointments for you.
  4. Take these prescriptions to your pharmacist (me).
  5. Fill all of your prescriptions for you.
     As of today, refills will NOT be allowed under this plan.  We will repeat this process on a monthly basis upon collection of the monthly fee.  If you agree to pay the entire year up front on January 1st of each year, we will include refills and add:
     6.  Notify you when refills are coming due and start again.

The Basic Plus Plan:  Includes all of the above while also providing

     7.  Deliver all of your filled prescriptions to your house.

The Premium Plan:  this will add

     8.  Have all lab work and diagnostic tests performed FOR you.

The Executive Plan:  will include

     9.  We will keep your filled prescriptions on-site and take them FOR you.  This will minimize side effects and the potential that you will miss doses.

The Platinum Plan:  is only  available for our patients with narcotics

    10.  This will enable us through networking to sell your narcotics on the street FOR you so you need not risk your own life.  As a bonus for enrolling in this Plan, you will earn a 5% commission on sales, the industry standard, which is the same commission provided to our sales force.

You will find this new, innovative model will take the worry out of your life and put the Care back in healthcare.  As you can see, we offer a wide variety of plans to meet your every need and options can be changed as your healthcare needs change.  This program eliminates all of the blocks to quality healthcare in America: no longer will you have to worry about making appointments, seeing specialists, missing medication doses, running out of medication and asking for a few pills until your doctor calls, or even taking many medications and dealing with side effects.  From the safety and security of your own couch, you too can have worry-free healthcare.  We will also know what medications are the most cost-effective for you and formulary-approved through our exhaustive research and collaborative agreements with the largest health insurers.  By forcing doctors, while at your appointments for you, to only prescribe approved medications, we can save you and the pharmacy (me, again) a lot of time that we can spend on more improvements to the P.A.T.H. system.
Overall, this is a win-win-win situation.  Insurers don't have to inflate their costs since they are only paying for cheaper, approved medications.  Pharmacists know the drugs are covered when prescribed and don't have to make multiple calls to offices to track down refill requests and prior authorization.  Patients have finally achieved what they have been wanting for years-Totally Hands-Off Healthcare!  They can finally say they have absolutely no personal accountability in their own healthcare (as long as the check clears each month).

Thank you for your time.  All persons interested in investing in this world-changing idea should contact me directly and we can work out the details.

*Fees and services are non-negotiable, but may be subject to change based on volume of subscriptions, street/market value of certain substances.  Previous performance is not an indicator of future anything.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Death of a Profession

Pack it up, pack it in.  Call for the bugles, the bagpipes, the fiddles and the drums.  Pull out your best black dress attire and line the streets.  Sound the call to mourning and join this solemn event.  Today is the day pharmacy died.  Perhaps we can get Don McLean to sing about it.

Now this is not a "back in my day" rant for I am too young for that.  However, much has changed in the last two decades that seems to have pushed us at an incredible pace over the precipice.  Pharmacy people I say to you "We Have Lost"!

Today a pharmacist is measured by his customer service.  We've most always had a remarkable rapport with our customers.  Back when it mattered we were "the most trusted profession".  Today, in order to get a raise, a bonus, a job even, you have to hit certain customer service indices.  What makes this all the more unbearable is that people running our profession as well as our businesses are treating us like infants.

How many times have you had an irate customer who didn't understand the problem we were explaining to him, threaten to actually call your boss?, or the corporate 1-800-COMPLAINT #?, or the front end manager?  Of those times, how often did someone step in and say "the pharmacist is correct and you're a douchebag"?  In the last week alone, I have had the following customer interactions: Woman at drive-thru hands us 4 new prescriptions and asks for them to be ready at our other location (25 minutes away) in 30 minutes.  I told her we don't do that and she said "but you DO transfer prescriptions, what's the problem?"  Next we have the lady who cut all the information off her coupon except where it says ($$$Gift Card) and complained to a manager who told us to take it.  Someone whose doctor requires the patient to call for refills asked us to call then got mad when we didn't call her to tell her they denied our request (even though the office said the patient is fully aware of this because they are habitual problem patients).

Since when did we ever believe our profession would change from one of healthcare to one of service bitch?  I understand that as we have tried to do more things to help our patients (faxed requests to doctors for refills, automatic monthly refills, immunizations, consultants) we have also made everything an expectation instead of a gratuitous, professional service.  How much stuff do we give away for free in the name of customer service?  People come to us expecting us to hand everything to them.  There is no longer personal accountability when it comes to one's own healthcare.

With the transfer coupon frenzy already having sullied our profession, we have to deal with the new scourge of retail: The Entitled Customer.  He simply wants to complain to get what he thinks he deserves.  My least favourite quotes are "it pays to complain" and "the customer is always right".  When Mr. E.C. is unhappy with us as pharmacists and he complains, what happens?  Someone at the next level fields his complaint and guess what?--we get docked for poor service while he gets a letter of apology, a gift card for his trouble, the keys to the pharmacy, and the satisfaction and courage to do it again.  We are rewarding bad behaviour in the name of customer service.

It's not just my employer or my state.  This is a national problem.  I have said before, we stopped being respected when we stopped respecting ourselves.  When we had the industry at our mercy during the massive pharmacist shortages, employers begged us to work overtime, offered huge sign-on bonuses to jump ship, or to stay, this was the time to improve our lot.  Alas, that ship has sailed and we are like every other corporate business in this weakened economy--doing the work of more than one person for less money and big corporations telling us "so what?".  Their attitude is if you don't like it, leave.  We'll replace you with someone who will.

Check back next week for the ultimate business solution that will change the practice of pharmacy forever.