Sunday, June 17, 2012

Beating "The System"

by Leann

First, Happy Father's Day to any fathers who happen to be reading this blog. Hope you have a wonderful day.

Onto the topic of my day--no, make that my life of late. I don't know about you, but I am tired of getting pushed around by the healthcare system. I believe the current thinking is that patients are dumb and aren't worth the time it takes for human interaction. Patients are apparently so stupid, in fact, that they'll fall for anything you tell them.

This week I am venting about my mail order pharmacy. The problems I have had with them span a full decade. They have a merry-go-round phone system where it's nearly impossible to talk to a living, breathing anyone and they love to change my prescriptions. They don't go through me, of course. That would take a phone call to me. Instead, they fax the doctor and say, "Wouldn't you rather order this drug rather than that drug?" And the ancillary staff at the doctor's office (don't get me started on that) rubber stamp anything the mail order people ask for. I ended up with an extended release form of one of my regular medications instead of the short acting one I've taken for years. Talk about side effects! And getting that changed back? About a month.

This week, I get a letter--no phone call mind you, let's just kill a tree while we're at it--saying "at your request we are holding one of your medicines. If you ever want this filled you will have to call us." HUH?? I never told anyone to hold anything. What did happen is that my doctor's office likes to SAVE trees and they will write 4 prescriptions on one page. So this medicine wasn't due to be refilled for several weeks. In the past, because this happens all the time, the mail order pharmacy simply fills the medicine when it's time. Well, that wasn't the route they chose to take this time. I wanted to know why. Rather than get on the merry-go-round phone system time sink, I e-mailed them. Over and over. Kind of sarcastic e-mails, I will admit. Maybe a little bit angry sounding, too.

This tactic (no, I am not stupid, pharmacy) was exactly that--a method to get results. They called me Friday. But of course the e-mail person who read everything I wrote to them knows nothing about medications and wasn't "qualified" to talk to me. (Then why is answering e-mails?) He had to put me on hold so I could wait for someone else. (Their tactic being, Maybe she'll hang up.) I get someone who sounds like she is about 12. Before she can start her spiel, I ask her what her qualifications are to be discussing my medication with me. Simple answer. None. She's "customer service." And though she played dumb (her next tactic) she knew EXACTLY why I was complaining in those e-mails. My very simple question to her was, after all the years of this company sending medications when it's time without ME having to call, (and thus wait an extra two weeks for said medicine), why have they sent me this letter?

Apology comes from her. (next tactic). "We just sometimes do it that way. Call us in a month." My tactic: "How does that answer my question as to why this happened?" This is when I get the final tactic. "I don't know. It's the system and I can't change the system." My question: "Isn't the system developed by people? Are you saying people can't fix the system they made?" This is cause for complete silence. She has no scripted answer for this. I proceed to be a broken record on this topic, waxing philosophic about the system and how I just don't understand why she or someone else cannot answer my simple question. After 10 minutes, my customer service girl is frustrated beyond belief. Final answer from her? "Why don't I just send you your medication today? Will that solve the problem?"

Oh yes, child. Oh yes it will. :-)

How about you? Any trouble with "the system" lately? There's a lot of "systems" out there, it would seem.