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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Turning the Tables...

As pharmacy staff, we are used to prioritizing. We are used to reshuffling our work. It's a stretch, but let's call it ER triage. People who just arrived and whose e-rxs haven't been processed yet get a bump and those with sick kids do as well.
Your doctor's office? Not so much. In fact, never. I don't just mean in the waiting room carefully designed like a casino with lots of magazines and TVs to distract you but no clocks to be found.

It's one thing to be like this with your patients but it is quite another to be like this with the pharmacy. I loathe that most offices do not have a phone option for "If you are a pharmacist with an immediate question about a prescription we wrote or sent electronically, Press #3". Instead, we get this...

CP: I have a very important question about an e-rx you just sent me. I literally just got it and noticed the problem. The patient just walked in and really needs it and...
Office Rep: Yeah, you have to call the refill line.
CP: But why do I have to leave a message? It's not a refill.
OR: I'll transfer you.
CP: Wait. It's important! We need the answer now.
OR: No one can answer your call right now.
CP: Can I hold?
OR: No. Transferring...

It took them an hour to get back to me. I politely explained that I had an urgent matter with Patient A.lready H.ere's prescription and it needed addressed immediately. I also mentioned that they needed to get a protocol in place for pharmacists to have their questions answered. I believe they likely laughed at me when they played that for all in the office to hear. Anyway...

Doctors' Offices tend to not respond to us. They brush us off like an early refill narcotic patient. Here is what I propose:
Whenever the phone rings into the pharmacy and it is a prescriber's office, the conversation will go like this:
Uber-Tech: Thank you calling CP Pharmacy where we are just plain awesome. How may I help you?
OR/RN/MD/APN: Calling from Dr. Zoffis with a question and to phone in a couple prescriptions.
UT: Ok. I'm sorry but we no longer accept phone calls from offices. Period. There is nothing you have to say to anyone here that you can't say to our voicemail. Our pharmacists have decided to take care of their own patients right now. We found that by not wasting our time actually talking to you, we can save hours a day and increase our flu shots and MTMs. It was a liberating epiphany. You can call back and press #666 for the prescriber voicemail. This way the pharmacist can play and repeat the message as needed. Please do speak clearly as unintelligible messages will be deleted and disavowed and we will make no effort to contact you since you don't answer our calls. Thank you and remember what a vital role we all play in the healthcare of our patients.

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