Technology in the Pharmacy

I love when technology makes life easier.  New processes and inventions come along that are so much better that nobody would dream of returning to the old way of doing things.

Bulldozers and other earth moving equipment took the place of wheelbarrows & shovels for building roads.  Executive secretaries now run word processing software on a computer instead of generating letters using typewriters and carbon paper.  Doctors offices use a scheduling database instead of the old giant scheduling books.  Western Union doesn’t have much call for telegrams now that phones are so common.  New, efficient technology replaces the old, and people are happy to make the switch because it makes their lives so much easier.

That said, I don’t think we’re there yet with e-scripts.  The general concept with electronic prescriptions is that when a doctor writes a script, that information is simultaneously sent to the pharmacy and entered in a patient’s medical record.

If pharmacists and doctors were all ecstatic over how e-scripts solve a bunch of problems and make their lives easier, maybe I’d re-think my position.  They’re not, though, so I’d rather hand-carry my prescription to the pharmacy.

  1. I know it gets to the right place if I deliver the prescription myself.
  2. I know what the prescription says if I have it in my hand.
  3. I can keep a copy for my records and can refer back to it if the instructions on the bottle of pills that I’m given doesn’t match up to what the doctor told me to take.
  4. I can tell the pharmacist when I still have half an old bottle left, so he doesn’t need to fill this new prescription from a different doctor until the old bottle is gone.
  5. The pharmacist doesn’t need to do the work of filling meds I can get OTC if the prescription is for something that’s available both ways.

Doctors can still enter prescriptions into their computerized records.  It’s simple to print the prescription instead of sending it to the pharmacy wirelessly:  same result from the doctor’s point of view, better results from mine.

Pharmacy Staplers

Pharmacy Chick has a post up about tools of the trade – mostly special pharmacy spatulas (some of which look a whole lot like cake decorating spatulas) and counting trays.  In the comments section, two different pharmacists commented on how much they love their staplers.

Love staplers?  Me – I hate it when the pharmacy uses a chunk of bent metal to attach my med info to the bag.

  • I can’t read the med info when it’s stapled shut.  Since pharmacists have been known to complain on their blogs that people don’t read those med inserts, maybe they should quit stapling the things closed, making it impossible to read them!
  • That receipt that’s stapled to the bag is part of my tax records.  I have to detach said receipt without ripping, shredding, or otherwise mutilating it because my accountant is funny about those receipts being legible.
  • When the tech has to do anything other than hand me the bag, she rips that tax deduction receipt – and then re-attaches the pieces with another staple and acts like it’s completely unimportant that I will be obligated to attempt a repair job.  Argh!

I’m sure it’s faster to staple something to the bag instead of handwrite a name, but it would be nice if that staple was through the empty end of the paper instead of smack in the middle of my receipt.  I hate knowing that a wrestling match with a staple-remover will follow every trip to the pharmacy.

Even better would be if the pharmacy printer were to spit out one label for the bag (one per patient) at the same time it prints everything else related to a prescription (bottle label, receipt, drug info…).  Surely it would be simple to slap that label on a bag of meds – even easier than locating a stapler and keeping it filled.

I do not love my pharmacy’s stapler!

Pharmacy

Dear Pharmacy Computer:

I love being able to go online to refill my meds.  It’s so much easier than spending ten minutes punching numbers into a touch-tone telephone keypad.  There is one issue, however, that I’d love to see addressed.  Why can I not refill all my meds at the same time?  You have arbitrarily set a limit – and that limit happens to be lower than my number of prescriptions.

When I punch in the first six, I get a confirmation screen:

Then I start all over to add the others, and get an error:

Your system just can’t handle more than six prescriptions per day.  It’s been a challenge, but if **I** can manage to take all those &*%# pills as prescribed, I don’t think it’s asking too much to ask a computer to let me order my refills in a timely manner.  This is not rocket science; it’s basic handling of data. 

Instead of this being a time-saver, now I have to phone the pharmacy and talk to a person — a person who could be filling prescriptions if they weren’t talking on the phone, trying to straighten out a computer problem.  I finally got everything to where it fills on the same day of the month, only to discover that you can’t handle such a simple task.  Argh!