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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Secret Shoppers

Who came up with this idea? It's like getting your best friend to hit on your girlfriend to check her loyalty...or his. In this case it's not about trust. It's about being able to keep an eye on you from a remote location: to let them know Big Brother is always watching.
For those unfamiliar, here is the gist of the program: Regular people, or actual employees of a company, visit a company's stores and pretend to shop. They make some observations then send a report to corporate. Some of them actually buy things, but they are testing you.
They ask questions.
They check on your wait times.
They check to see if you walk out and put products in their hands.
They check to see if you ask them questions.
They check to see if your smock is clean.
They check to see if your name badge is on it.
I think they get close enough for breath checks.

The problem I have with this is not that I have to assist my patients. I developed that habit a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away known as my internship. It's the mark of a great pharmacist.
My problem with this culture of fear is that I am wasting my time not doing my job.

There are patients who walk directly to my counter and ask where something is. It is immediately behind them. It is in a shiny box with neon lights and a speaker that announces its presence. Rather than point it out to them, I must walk around and put in in their hands.
And here is what will happen: I will rush to finish your prescription. I will walk away from it. I will come back to it and forget where I was. Then I may miss something.

I try to provide "excellent patient service" when companies want "customer service". I think these types of programs have lead to a "factory of fear" mentality. Instead of being allowed to do our jobs, we live in fear of "THEM"; "They-who-shall-not-be-named"; "The Corporations".

I find it rather ironic that the companies put in place workflow designs and computer systems to prevent errors, but continue to open their pharmacies and pharmacists to more and more distractions.


  1. At my grocery, they have remodeled the entire OTC medication planogram and removed all helpful signage. MOST of the time people can't find what they're looking for and we have to go help them. This was done on purpose so we can introduce ourselves and ask them to transfer their prescriptions to us. I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself making an error because I was distracted because of this crap, and I really worry about the mistakes I didn't catch.

  2. I usually end up going out to help people because 9 times out of 10, when I tell them that they Benadryl is "one aisle over, on the left, at the bottom shelf in the pink boxes" they shuffle back to my counter 3 minutes later and state that they couldn't find it. So I end up having to help them anyway.