Doctor gives you a prescription… now what?

I feel that there’s always so much confusion or lack of appreciation from this physician-pharmacy-patient triangle we have in society so this is just to expand a little on that. So here are a couple tips that I hope may enlighten and resolve some simple issues from this transition:

  1. Actually bring in your prescription or call in to check on your medication if it’s being sent electronically.

If the doctor or nurse hands you an paper prescription, do not assume that every doctor, clinic, pharmacy, and staff among them is connected. There are 6.2 billion people and 327 million people in the US roughly. Yes technology is incredible but there is no way to have every single thing connected. If they hand you a prescription then its probably because it’s going to tell the staff at the pharmacy what exactly to give you. Also prescriptions are sent in and done in first come first serve order. If you get out of the doctor’s office at 12 PM and arrive at your pharmacy at 12:04 PM, it’s probably not yet done. And because it comes in and is done in time order, if they send in a prescription at 12 PM but the pharmacy receives 50 prescriptions to be processed at the same time, don’t assume it will be done by 12:10 PM unless your doctor explicitly requested this time. You’re more than welcome to swing by and check the wait time or even call ahead to plan accordingly. (Side note: some pharmacies even have apps online where you can see if it’s process or ready.)

2. Have your documents handy.

There are 327 million people in the United States. Let me say that again for the people in the back, THREE HUNDRED TWENTY SEVEN MILLION PEOPLE. Of those people, about 7-9 percent are actually insured, don’t have a calculator? No worries, I got you. That’s about 27 million people. Now I’m saying that all the pharmacies throughout the nation contain the same interface and system to process prescriptions, but many now can pull up active coverage for patients to facilitate this process and help patients that maybe haven’t received their cards in the mail or are having issues communicating with the right people.

3. Be proactive

Being sick sucks. Trust me, I’m such a wimp when it comes to the cold. So the last thing I want to do is make it harder for any of my patients that aren’t feeling too hot or already dealing with caring for another sick loved one or just having a terrible day. But the pharmacy staff is caring for you and every person that walks in the door behind you. The patients in hospice beds, those traveling, those with all 5 family members deathly ill, those waiting on maintenance medications from their physician that was supposed to come in a couple days ago, those putting in refills on their antiseizure meds, EVERY ONE. With that being said, we cannot keep track of all gazillion questions and concerns from last week to last year no matter how much we’d like to remember that far. If you have multiple medications, have them on a schedule through your local pharmacy. Buy a weekly pill organizer

If you have special concerns, contact your local pharmacy so they can you both be on top of your own meds.

4. Have insurance billing information 

This may sound a bit confusing but if you have your prescription insurance card in hand then you are good to go. Most insurance plans will have the billing information that the staff needs to bill them right on the card. Even if you’re using a discount card or manufacturer coupon of some sort, it will have the same type of billing information on the card. It’ll look like this:

Even if you don’t have a picture, as long as you have these 4 numbers the staff will be able to find your correct plan/discount card:

-RX BIN ( it’ll be 6 digits)
-RX PCN (helps us narrow down your exact plan)
-RX GRP( may be different from the regular “Group #”)
-RX ID ( this may come up as subscriber for medicaid plans)

5. Be realistic

If it’s pain medication for your wife who just brought a new born baby boy into this world or your son who was tragically in a painful car crash and you’d like to wait, let your staff know. If you’re out of town and you accidentally misplaced your insulin pens on the suitcase heading back 3000 miles in the opposite direction and you’ve been feeling like poo for a couple hours tell your staff. If you don’t have reliable transportation and it’s taken you 2 bus trips and a 4 mile walk through the Sahara and you can’t really afford to come back that same day, advise the staff. Life is nuts, things happen, with or without our control most of the time. IF we can help in anyway, we will. All of us have our own demons to deal with on a day to day basis. But if you walk into your local pharmacy and see a line wrapped around the corner, with the waiting room looking like 9 AM at the airport on a Monday, bringing a prescription for weight loss that you’ve had in your possession for 2 weeks and need it stat, it’s probably not going to be done before baby Anna’s antibiotic medication.

With all that being said, I hope this clears some questions up and gives you a better idea on how some things work behind the counter. At the end of the day, our patients are number one priority, mostly because were human. We all get sick, we all have things happen, and we all are just trying to live this day the best we can one day at a time, lets help each other make the pharmacy a less scary place to be, for the both of us.

Til next time ***


Published by HonestRambles

Post-grad master's student navigating through the ugly, stressful, and worthwhile moments of being a nontraditional pre-med. Living off good energy, over-priced coffee, and reminding myself why I choose this life everyday.

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