So what happens next in the pharmacy?

I remember when in college, my wife had a prescription she asked me to pick up.  I dropped it off at the pharmacy counter and waited and waited.  I couldn’t understand what could be taking so long since all they had to do was put a label on the bottle and count to thirty, right?  And there weren’t even any other customers in the store.  Well here is the answer to that secret…

Insurance problems are the number one bottle-neck in the pharmacy business.  It seems every single insurance company (and there are thousands) has their own little code system on their cards that must be exactly as they have it in their computer or it will not go through.  One good thing is that computers are getting better at giving a clue as to the nature of the problem.  I swear the number one reject message we see is “incorrect birthday”.  This is usually a simple fix but it means calling the number on the customer’s card, wading through the phone tree baloney, and hopefully getting to talk to a real person who can tell you what they have in their computer.  Sometimes they will not fix it without a call from the customer themselves.  All this can take from five to forty minutes.

So after the insurance has been processed, we double check the medication from the shelf with the printed pharmacy label and the written prescription and then we get to “count by fives”.

Then the pharmacist can hand out the medication.  The pharmacist does this so that the customer can ask questions and get any counseling that may be necessary.  We are also required to “sign out” all the prescriptions.  We do this at the cash register; other pharmacies do this at their pick up window.

Next time I will discuss how the customer can make this process faster for the customer…