My nine-year-old daughter started clearing her throat over and over the other day, which is often a sign that she’s building up to an asthma attack. A responsible parent, I took a quick look in the medicine cabinet to check on the expiration dates of her Albuterol and DuoNeb. Sure enough, both had expired. So I called the pediatrician’s office to request a refill and they told me to call the pharmacy, and ask the pharmacist to request the refill. This is sort of a hassle, but I did so and then waited to hear word that I could pick up the new meds.
Day 1 passed. No call. Day 2 passed. No call. I phoned the pharmacist again and he said the pediatrician’s office hadn’t responded to his faxed request. We both sighed. Day 3 passed. No call…so I stopped in at the pharmacy, where the pharmacist, who I know well, expressed frustration at the lack of response and suggested that I now call the office and request the refill. I agreed to do so, but felt a flash of anger at all the work this was taking, as well as a twinge of anxiety that we were heading into a weekend with no meds for an asthmatic child.
I’m sure refilling prescriptions is no one’s favorite job at a physician’s office. But it’s definitely someone’s job and it’s important. Equally important, it’s this sort of non-response that drives patients nuts and makes them vent their spleen with other residents of your community. I.e., you can rest assured that at some point in the near future I’ll be talking to another parent–maybe about asthma, maybe about pediatrician options in our community, maybe about which pharmacists we like–and I’ll tell the story about the time I waited 72 hours (I’m hoping it won’t be more) to get asthma meds for my daughter.
But imagine the opposite. Imagine your prescription re-fill person was really on the ball, someone who returned calls promptly, who valued staying on top of the flood of requests that come in each day. Imagine that, in my case, I had gotten my meds right away and had tucked them away happily, feeling secure in the knowledge that if my child woke up unable to breath I’d have the tools to help her. That’s the kind of customer service that generates trust, loyalty, and referrals. And that’s the kind of publicity you should be trying to generate from your practice–not the gripes of worried, frustrated parents.