• Waiting for your prescription?

    Have you ever asked yourself, “why does it take so long to have a prescription filled?”

    From start to finish, it takes about 2 minutes to fill one prescription….that is, if there are no other factors slowing down the process.

    One of those factors is the pharmacy benefits manager (PBM).  These are entities that manage the prescription benefit for your insurance company (examples are Medco, Caremark, Express Scripts).  All of your demographic and insurance information must be correctly entered into the system.  This processing information changes periodically, so the pharmacy must submit the claim with the updated information.  The prescription must also be submitted in a way that meets the safety and formulary requirements of the insurance company.  So if a drug is not covered, or the insurance does not allow for the amount the doctor has prescribed, changes must be made to the prescription and the reprocessed to the insurance company.  Sometimes these issues require the pharmacy staff to call the PBM or the physician’s office to get the issue resolved.  This takes the pharmacy staff away from what you want them to be doing…filling the prescription.

    Other factors that slow down the prescription filling process are clinical, such as allergies, drug or disease interactions.  Sometimes medications are not completely appropriate for the patient because a drug interaction exists or the drug prescribed may exacerbate a disease the patient has.  The pharmacy must call the physician’s office to resolve these issues as well.

    These are the most common reasons that filling the prescription may take a while.    Couple these factors with increasing number of prescriptions that are being written overall and it can become quite a task to provide medications in a reasonable amount of time.  If you or the patient(s) ahead of you have any of these issues with a prescription it can mean longer wait times.   And that is how a 2 minute process turns into a 15 to 30 minute process.

    You might be asking, “what can I do to reduce the wait time for myself and the other patients at the pharmacy?”  First, call the pharmacy with all changes in your demographic or insurance information as soon as you are aware of them.  Making a 2 minute phone call can save you several minutes later.  Second, call your refills in ahead of time and let the staff know when you will be picking them up.  Doing so allows the pharmacy staff to prioritize their work.  If your prescription requires extra attention, that attention can be given during non-busy times and will allow the staff to provide faster service to the patients that are waiting in the store.

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