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.


FirstOfMay said...

Not really "the system" exactly, but I have had trouble with certain people in the medical field. Two Christmases ago, I got a new wheelchair. Since the hospital I usually went through for this dropped me, I had to find a new company. My local dr. recommended one. The girl who came to fit me for it was, I'm sorry, a 20-something blonde twit. The whole time, she looked at my mom and talked to her. She told me I'd have to have a bigger chair. Mom & I both said NO. It can't be any wider. I finally get it, everything seemed fine. But I just assumed all the doorways in the house were the same size, so I only tried a couple. After the delivery guy left, I tried to get into the hall to get to the bathroom. No go. Got stuck. I called immediately. Got the twit on the phone, and it ended up being a shouting match. She said we talked about how the chair had to be wider. I said no, YOU said it had to be and WE said it couldn't be. She wouldn't listen and kept talking over me until I actually told her to shut up and let me talk. It took a while, but she finally reluctantly had it changed. It's still not right, but it's functional.

The other thing is my eye doctor. Last December, I broke my glasses. I hadn't been to the eye doctor in over 20 years. Turns out they lost me in THEIR system---even in their backup system. So I had to get re-examined. I was seeing pretty decent at the time. We get through the exam, and he says he wants to give me a new prescription--lenses with 3 levels--bifocals, middle sight, and distance. I said no because I knew that would mess up my eyes. At the end of the exam, he asks if my mom can come in. I said yes if we are done. So then he tells my mom about the prescription he wanted to give me because he knew I'd do what she thought was best. (It was either that or the walk home would've been very unpleasant). That was December. Sure enough, the prescription is lousy. My eyes have to focus every time I go from looking at one distance to another. I barely use the bifocals. Reading isn't as easy as it used to be, and taking a picture of my sweet nephews with my digital camera has become almost impossible because it takes so long for my close up vision to focus. I swear, from now on, I'm getting my glasses at Sears.

Aurian said...

Wow FirstofMay, so because you are in a wheelchair, you are so stupid you cannot make any decisions, they need your mom for that? That is horrible! Next time, make your mom back you up no matter what.

I have trouble with my prescriptions every time I go to the apothecairy. I am taking the same medicines for over 20 years, and I have the doctor prescribe them for me again and again by phone. And every time they try to give me inferior, cheaper, stuff, as the insurance covers them, and not the original medicine. "but it has the same working ingredient" So what? It is not the same, I want the original! Last time I got so angry with the stupid schoolgirl behind the counter I just told her to shut up and give me the medicine the doctor prescribed and that I wanted. After all, she is not a doctor and she does not know my medical history. And if I have to pay extra for the right ones, so be it. I hate pharmacies. All the over the counter stuff, I buy elsewhere.

Leann Sweeney said...

You are both dealing with the system, too. So frustrating! But this time, I outlasted the system and it sounds like both of you did, too. "we're the system and we're here to help you" is very scary to me!

Barbara said...

Boy, you really started something, didn't you? I use Prescription Solutions in California and that company is very good. I've only had one problem in many years. Their one fault? They get in touch too much. A phone call and a letter to remind me when a prescription needs to be refilled.

Leann Sweeney said...

You are very lucky, Barbara! Wish I had them. At one point I even reported this company to the State Board of Pharmacy. I don't believe it is okay for a pharmacist or maybe someone in SALES to decide what drug a patient should take. That is up to the doctor. They are getting around this by dealing with the office staff and getting them to okay prescription changes through faxes. So not okay!

CindyD said...

Our Internet, digital cable TV and digital telephone all went out yesterday afternoon. After waiting a couple of hours for them to come back I finally called Cox on my cell phone. After dealing with the automated system and being on hold for awhile, I finally got to talk to a human in the telephone department, who transferred me to another department, another hold, then that person said he was transferring me but I wouldn't have to wait. Yeah, right - the system said the wait would be eight minutes! I hung up. Calmed down, called again an hour later, waited on hold over ten minutes, was told there was an outage in our area and it would be fixed in under an hour - and it was!
I firmly believe that there should be an emergency number where a person answers - after all, if digital phone and internet are out, both normal means of communication are unusable. We only use the cell for emergencies and weekday minutes are limited. Luckily this time it was a Saturday.
Thanks for letting me vent!

Leann Sweeney said...

Yes, the merry-go-round phone system. Whoever invented this put-people-off-so-they'll-hang-up tactic will be a murder victim in my next book! :-) But of course I'd have to be put on hold to find out.

Suzanne said...

there must be something in the air. I bought a computer in May due. Got a shipping notice for a Friday in June. On that Friday received box 2 of 2. On Monday no box 1 of 2. So I called, they had no idea, they would email the computer company and it would take 2 - 3 days to find out. Told me to call back Thursday, call back again, still no answers, tell me call back on Monday. Call back, no answers but then they ask me if I received a 23inch monitor, no I said, no monitor. Well, they could have send them by mistake and if I got one I could keep in instead of the one I bought but they had no shipping info, could be anywhere from 10 - 14 days. No good, I will be out of town, then they ask if it could be shipped elsewhere, no not if I don't know when it is coming. So I told them I was sending it back and they better not charge me shipping. It gets picked up and I come home the next day to another computer that had been overnighted. I am now waiting for a call tag to send that one back. URRRRHHH. I feel your pain. Just an honest response would have been nice, like that maybe production was behind but no, just none answers.

Leann Sweeney said...

Well, Suzanne, that is "the system" at it's worst. And you wasted so much time trying to get it straightened out without satisfaction. I understand!

Susan L said...

Dell Computers a few years ago. I was on my second laptop with them. I now no longer own any Dell products (to make an excruciatingly long story short).
Recently, I went to the "doc-in-a-box" urgent care center because I'm too lazy to find a new family doctor (and want to avoid confrontation when I call the office staff at my doctor's office--the staff being the reason I don't go to my regular doctor if at all possible--to ask for my records to be forwarded to another doctor with another grrrr...staff). I described (after keying in my symptoms...isn't too much technology grand?) my symptoms to the triage nurse and then the "doc" as acute sinus pressure and pain, difficulty breathing because of upper respiratory distress, but that the good news was that the sore throat caused by the drainage had almost gone away. "Doc"'s diagnosis? Tonsilitis. I couldn't even respond to it.

FirstOfMay said...

OK, I have another one for you that is recent. My printer is broke. It gets to the end of the page I'm printing and won't eject the page. It's just jammed in there, and i have to pull it out, which ruins the end of what I'm printing. I know it's discontinued and cannot be serviced by the company. Again, I am not an idiot. But I figured they might still at least be able to tell me what they think the problem is. Nope. No such luck. They just told me they couldn't do anything for me. Heck, I wasn't even asking them to do any labor. I didn't think that was fair, but who am I, right?

Debra said...

I use a mail order for my pets medication & have no trouble at all! Why can't it be that simple for humans?
As for the Internet/tv/phone, I do not 'bundle'. I have found no deal is worth putting all your eggs in one basket.If my cable goes,I call a friend & chat!

Leann Sweeney said...

I agree. So easy with the pet meds. I truly believe health insurers have a firm grip on this country and they want to keep their control. Giving in to the people who actually PAY for this might be dangerous in their minds.