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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why Are We In Such a Hurry?

  That's the question for this post. Why are we in such a hurry all the time? Somehow we have been brain-washed into the mentality of "fill it quick"! Why does a prescription have to be filled so fast? Well, some might say its because the patient is waiting and they don't feel well. OK, I can sympathize with the not feeling well patient, but how long did they spend at the doctor's office? I can bet it was more than 5, 10 or even 15 minutes, so I'm not really buying that one. Others will say, that the sooner they get their meds the sooner they will feel better.That is such a load of crap! Most "sick" patients are getting antibiotics which, I believe I remember from school, don't work instantly. Yes, these patients may be getting cough syrup or anti-nausea meds which will make them "feel better" but a few extra minutes of suffering isn't going to kill them. A miss-fill just might! The other patients are the ones in pain. I agree, they need pain relief, but honestly when you're hurting badly enough the prescription could be filled in record time and it wouldn't matter. In that situation, five minutes fells like an hour. The sick or in pain patients I really do sympathize with but why do we rush ourselves with the prescriptions for chronic meds or refills? I have actually seen pharmacists and techs in such "hurry-up mode" that they were out of breath! AND THEY WERE WORKING ON REFILLS THAT HAD BEEN PHONED IN!! There is something seriously screwed-up with that. How did we get to this point?
  I believe that this "hurry-up" mentality has seriously undermined the credibility of this profession. We complain about our patients having a fast-food attitude with us, but we encourage that very attitude every time we rush to get a prescription filled just because the patient complains about our wait-time or threatens to go somewhere else. We cave in, no one forces us to! Why is that? Is it because we know we can speed it up if we need to? Are we afraid they will go somewhere "faster"? We have been pressured by the patient and our employers to work faster and faster. And, like the good little worker-bees that we are, we have complied, but at what cost? There is a price paid for this by the patient and the employer if there is a miss-fill, we all know that, but considering the volume we do that is really rare. But, if you really think about it, we pay a price every day, every hour and every minute that we press ourselves to perform faster and do more. Our profession pays a price in respect and image when we become so performance oriented. It needs to stop!!
  With all of that said, I personally maintain a wait-time of under 10 minutes on average. I can do this without the stress of being in a rush for the most part because I have trained my staff to be efficient rather than fast! I have worked in high and low volume stores and I can say I have never felt rushed or over-whelmed. I maintain efficiency by not allowing things like cell-phone, facebook, twitter, blogging, e-mail or long personal phone calls  to steal my time. I'm there to work not to socialize and I'm sure my employer agrees. I see pharmacists that waste their time on stuff like this and then wonder why they are so far behind. They usually try to blame it on not having enough staff or they try to blame it on  the staff. That's usually when I drop the bomb of being able to breakdown the wait-time indices to see where the delay has occurred. I've also gone so far as to watch security videos to see who is doing what and when. That's sneaky but sometimes necessary. After all, I work with the same techs as all my other pharmacists to so I know what is possible if we just stay focused. Do you remember freshman chemistry when they taught us about the rate-limiting step in a chemical reaction? Well, I've always thought of the pharmacist as the rate-limiting factor in filling a prescription. Nothing can leave the pharmacy until it passes through me (our work-flow makes it pass through us twice), so I control how fast or slow things get done. When I am steady and unstressed so are my staff members. That trickles down into their demeanor with the customers. How the customers are treated ultimately results in a better experience for them, they are willing to wait for their prescription and they are more willing to return. So building our business is not all about speed (which some say equals convenience).
  So, my friends, slow down, take a breath (or bathroom break)  and enjoy yourselves. Be at peace and create a peaceful atmosphere by not rushing yourself or your staff. They will love you for it, they will enjoy their work and your patients will be well taken care of and want to return. Just remember: YOU ARE IN CONTROL!!

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