Friday, March 18, 2011

Wondering: Is Rite Aid's 15 minute guarantee a good idea?

I recently posted about Rite Aid's new 15 minute guarantee.  An anonymous poster left a comment that said, "Personally it's a terrible idea. Rite Aid is essentially putting a $5 price tag on patients health. I'd be afraid to get prescriptions filled by a pharmacist working on a timer. What's next? Surgeons working on timers?"

This gave me pause.  I hadn't considered that medical errors might occur.  I know that many medications do come pre-counted and all they need to do is run the insurance, get approval, verify it is correct, and then slap a prescription label on the bottle or box.  A lot of doctors already *do* work on a timer... the rare ones don't rush you in and out or disappear after 5 minutes only to send a nurse back in with your prescriptions, which doesn't give you the opportunity to ask questions. 

But let me relay this story to you, because since I posted about the 15 minute guarantee at Rite Aid, I've actually needed to speak with a pharmacist who was likely "working on a timer."  I am not going to name the store or the pharmacist.

I popped into a Rite Aid today to get my child something for his cough.  I'd already tried something last night that didn't seem to work, so I wanted something to dry up his post nasal drip.  However, I wasn't entirely sure what to get him from the kids' medicine aisle, so I approached the counter and asked the counter person for some help in choosing a medicine.

The pharmacist came over and I explained my situation.  The pharmacist came out from behind the counter (though, I don't suspect willingly) and came over to the section to help me choose.  I felt like I was taking them away from something important since I noticed a bit of hesitation before coming out to assist me. After the selection was made, the pharmacist returned back behind the counter and went back to the work station, but called over the top that I could use both medicines at the same time.  (Definitely important information to know).

I couldn't help but wonder how much time I took off this pharmacist's timer with my needs.  After all, time spent counseling me meant that was time taken away from filling a prescription (and failure to do so would result in a $5 loss to Rite Aid).  Pharmacists do more than just count pills.  I, for one, rely on them for advice when I am not sure what to take for illnesses or whether I can take X with Y or if it will cause a reaction or overdose.  If I don't know, I ask.  That's what they are there for. 

What the 15 minute guarantee means is that pharmacy patients will get better service and those of us trolling the cough and cold aisle unsure of what to buy for their child will get 2 minutes or less of pharmacist advice before they feel compelled to vault back over the barricade to their work station to avoid paying the $5 gift card out to an unhappy customer.  Even Dominos gave up their 30 minute guarantee for safety's sake.
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