|February 7, 2013
Pharmacy automated prescript process easiest way to get refills
ST. IGNATIUS — The Tribal Health and Human Services Pharmacy Division’s automated system has been in effect for nearly two years now and the internal wrinkles have for the most part been long been ironed out.
“The fastest and most convenient way to get prescriptions filled (at the THHS pharmacies) is to access the automated ordering system,” said Dr. Mike Hertz, manager of the THHS Pharmacy Division.
The system is working well, Hertz said but there still might be some wrinkles from the patient end of the automated system. Hertz said the automated system is the most efficient way that THHS pharmacies can refill prescriptions but understands there are folks who may continue to have difficulties using it. Those folks can still call the pharmacies and talk to the pharmacists or pharmacy technicians to get their refills taken care of and to answer their questions. However, given the heavy workload of the THHS pharmacies that method slows the overall process.
• To refill a prescription through the automated system patients must always have the most recent medication container with the label on it that contains the Rx number or the appropriate detached labels with the Rx numbers that come with multi-refillable prescriptions. If there is a “letter” at the end of the Rx numbers it should be left off where ordering the refill.
The most recent refill Rx numbers are important because the numbers change with each new prescription regardless if it is for the same medication a person routinely gets.
“The prescription numbers only have the life of the of the original prescription effective dates,” Hertz said.
With that information in hand patients can then call the appropriate pharmacy, either in Polson or St. Ignatius.
• The Polson THHS Clinic Pharmacy phone number is 883-5482.
• The St. Ignatius THHS Clinic Pharmacy phone number is 745-2426.
People with multiple prescriptions can only do them one at a time. They must start the automated process over for each prescription.
Once on the line with the automated system they will be guided through the process.
When asked, press “1” to order the prescription refill.
If there are refills left the person will be asked to enter the prescription number that is on the label of the container.
If the person is out of refills they will be asked to press “1” again and that will automatically send a fax to their physician notifying them a refill is needed.
For added convenience people can also request what THHS clinic they want their prescriptions sent to. Brand new prescriptions might not be sent to the outlying clinics if there is no address notification on the label. Hertz said people should call if they are confused.
Controlled substances (narcotics) must be picked up at the pharmacy — Polson or St. Ignatius — the prescription was sent to.
The goal is to have a person’s prescription filled within 24 hours of receipt of the prescription. However, holidays and unexpected days off like snow days and weekends add to that time.
Also prescriptions can’t be picked up Friday afternoons due to the THHS facilities closing at noon.
Hertz said Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are the busiest days at the pharmacies. “We just get pounded the first three days of the week,” he said. “It’s a little quieter on Thursday and Friday. But we don’t get to look at the Friday prescriptions (sent electronically after the Friday noon hour) until Monday morning. That is really the only hitch we have other than holidays or unexpected closures like snow days.”
Hertz said pharmacy personnel understand that not all people will find the system easy to navigate. The elderly as well as hearing- and/or sight-impaired folks may have difficulties. They as well as others can still phone in and the answering system will connect them to the pharmacy personnel. “The automated system isn’t the only way to get prescriptions filled but it is the fastest, safest and most effective way. It takes us less time to process prescriptions when people use the automated system. It really improves our efficiency,” Hertz said. “But people shouldn’t hesitate to call us if they have difficulties using the automated system.”
Patients with new prescriptions can simply hand deliver the prescription slip to pharmacy personnel at the THHS pharmacies. They will be advised of the time needed to refill the hand-delivered prescription.
Prescriptions are good for one year unless they are controlled substances (narcotics) that are good for six months.
“If a person doesn’t fill them all within a year or six month time frame, they can’t get the unfilled prescription medication even if they have refills left,” Hertz said. “That’s’ the law.”
Hertz said that due to various supply dynamics patients might get variations in appearance of their prescribed medications.
“We can’t always get the same looking medication,” he said, adding that regardless of the appearance the medication is the same. Still that can confuse folks. “People should call us if they are concerned about the what their medication looks like. If they feel they may have gotten the wrong medication, call us.”
Hertz said that all THHS prescribed medications whether they are brand name or generic meet strict and specific Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quality guidelines.
Hertz also strongly recommended against ordering drugs through the Internet. “There is no way to know where the drug comes from or where it was manufactured,” he said.