Waiting or calling back


A comment from @L1ttlepetal on twitter got me thinking about an extremely difficult question that we all ask patients numerous times an hour…….”Are you waiting or calling back (CB)”

You would think the only answers would be, ‘are you waiting’ or ‘CB’. Maybe so in a perfect world, but no, that would be too easy. Sometimes it is a confusing yes, making me repeat the question.

Here is a community pharmacy definition of waiting: sit down shut up and entertain yourself.

The term CB is most often ambiguous. Stepping out to the shop next door and coming straight back does not qualify as CB but it is the sign of an inpatient waiter.

It seems in pharmacy there are two extremes within the CB group. One being the few who nip out and come back impatiently assuming a quick exit can magically speed up the process of checking & dispensing.

RESULT:  *rolling eyes*

The second group, return only to sit down quietly and they have already missed the calls of some pharmacists checking and shouting their name before placing the medicine away and half an hour later, the patient impatiently queries how long its going to be. Half of this second group will wait and wait and dare not ask how long its going to be until will ask them.

RESULT: *rolling eyes*

I must give an honourable mention to those who are waiting but wait in the car.
For those with young kids, I am happy to bring the prescription out to them. For those who are parked illegally, thir prescription seems to take longer for us to do. I have no idea why ; )

Some strange people ask not to wait but want it delivered. I try to persuade them to take ten minutes out of their daytime tv, I mean busy schedule and wait for it.

Others ask for deliveries but pop in for it instead. They ask where their medication is. We say its with the driver. They ask where the driver is. We say that he’s probably at your house love. ( I personally adore deliveries. See last blog for more information).

Placing the CB or waiting script in the correct basket is the crucial step to avoid A SYSTEM COLLAPSE!!

Different pharmacies have their own systems, different coloured baskets, or hanging scripts in order, with further variations in filing for deliveries and DDS ,this can be confusing for locums or even a technician with a hangover.

Other ways of reaching a “A SYSTEM COLLAPSE” is placing the baskets in incorrect areas of the dispensary for the pharmacist to check.   The worst case scenario is filing a prescriptions away before dispensing, causing a prescription hunt upon the arrival of the patient.

RESULT: *panic at the pharmacy*

The final problem is when you haven’t written the time the prescription was handed in. Resulting in queue jumpers and providing perfect opportunities for grumpy people to be…grumpy!

RESULT: *panic at the pharmacy*

This made me remember how at university, I once handed in my prescription to the local pharmacy and said that I would call back the next day. The girl on the counter seemed annoyed and asked, ‘Why can’t you wait?’ The pharmacist looked at her in anger and asked ‘Don’t you think I’m busy enough???’ and said to me that he would see me tomorrow.

Even if you are waiting or CB, its never dull in pharmacy!

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3 thoughts on “Waiting or calling back

  1. This comment is really going to throw you in to a *panic in the pharmacy*.

    My idea was to have a “two items or less” patients’ work-stream in the pharmacy.

    Yes I can here the screams from the pharmacy team already, but just hold that instant revulsion for a moment and think about it.

    That 15 item Rx could be holding up at least 6 or more acute Rxs for antibiotics etc.

    The 15 items Rx is most probably a regular user of your pharmacy, they know you keep their special brand of atenolol in for them, the acute Rxs are probably people who use your pharmacy on an ad-hoc basis.

    What will be their impressing of your service when they use you?
    Most probably the time they had to wait whilst their child screamed in agony waiting for the antibiotic which will most probably not affect the duration of their ear infection.

    So pull those 15 item rx’s out of the system, either by delivery, call-backs or my system.

    The acute Rxs get pushed to a faster turnover, dedicated work-stream to keep these patients turning over.

    I know you’re thinking that you may lose that loyal 15 item customer if they feel they’ve been pushed aside, but then it’s about doing a marketing campaign on these individuals, we’ve given them other routes of getting their meds, ordering schemes, delivery etc.

    But the acute people go away with better impression of your pharmacy, and are more likely yo become loyal customers in the future.

    Just a thought.

  2. Oh wow my first blog mention..yippee.. thanks Mr D

    It is annoying I must admit the whole waiting or calling back fiasco, this blog just describes my angst perfectly.. thank you!.. another question I used to have to ask which was in a SOP was “When would you like these ready?”.. and yes you can imagine the replies… well.. “Now”. Grrrr that swiftly changed back to are you waiting or calling back within 24 hours.. thankfully.

    Btw There is already a drive thru pharmacy in the north east in Billingham would you believe… I’m not sure how it works but Im hoping they wont be calling out Mr X’s Viagra over the tannoy for collection..lets hope! :-))))

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