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- Issue 81: April 2009
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- Issue 76: October 2008
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Does Professional Care Apply to the Patient, or the Bank?

Chris Wright
Dispensary Systems Perspective

Issue 76: October 2008
Page: 1 of 1 Author's Profile | Send to a Friend | Printer Version

I accompanied Mrs “Always” Wright to the Doctor recently, she was feeling poorly enough to warrant a stay in the waiting room that at one stage was looking as though the registration on my car might expire before she saw the Doctor.
No less than 12 Doctors practice on a rotating basis here…………pity only one was on duty on this Saturday.
A suggested “Wait” time of 80 minutes managed to stretch to 3 hours 17 minutes before “Always” managed to be seen.
This situation was not helped by the fact that this particular Doctor has the unfortunate nickname of “Thirty”, because she spends nearly 30 minutes with each patient.

Because we attended at 1.15pm, a consultation fee of $68 was to be paid.
The fact that "Alway"s was seen at 4.32pm apparently has no relevance.
Had "Always" attended prior to 1pm a consultation fee would not have needed to be paid. Another quirky little rule here is that an ‘appointment’ is charged at $55.
Yet, on several occasions "Always" has had to wait for up to 45 minutes to be seen, even with an appointment.
When challenged by "Always", they seem to cave in and not charge the $55……….presumably to protect against a surge in the high blood pressure "Always" is prone to suffer from.
After all, she lives with me, quite understandable.

By the time "Always" was ushered into the Doctor’s consulting room she had the demeanour of Puffing Billy with a full head of steam.
After an excruciatingly polite chat, "Always" asked why only one Doctor was present. “Oh, we can’t afford to have any more here on a Saturday”, was the reply.

Excuse me?

Do we now have to select a time to be ill to comply with financial considerations?

"Always" decides to wait in the car and recover from her seething mood whilst I visit the Pharmacy armed with her prescription.
I’m sort of developing an academic interest in proceedings by this stage because the Medical Centre had one Doctor and one receptionist, likewise the Pharmacy, one Pharmacist and one assistant.
I suspect the Pharmacy has a landlord of the same name as the owner of the Medical Centre, an affable fellow with a medical degree and a burning ambition to own the entire suburb.

The Pharmacy is staffed by Annabel, a young Pharmacy student already in possession of a bio-medical degree and David, a locum Pharmacist old enough to stay in the fray just for the love of it.

A young twenty something Princess who is having trouble with a great mane of bottle blonde hair is bleating about the fact she can go to Chemist Warehouse with her prescription and only pay $20.
David inspects the computer like a man intent on solving Rubic’s cube without picking it up and apologises profusely for not being able to accommodate the young Princess by matching the price of Chemist Warehouse.
The Princess throws her pretend blonde mane back and affects the haughty air of a spoilt brat denied chocolate biscuits at the Supermarket.

I suppress a chuckle and shake my head, Annabel rolls her rapidly learning eyes and David presents the prescription back into the hands of the Princess like a piece from the Ming Dynasty. This subtle sarcasm is lost on the little Princess, naturally……..the Alcopop tax is clearly ruining the charmed life of the Princess.

David gently intones that in this Pharmacy we speak to the customers, at Chemist Warehouse, they don’t.
“Yes, I know that”, snaps the Princess, and stalks out, obviously very peeved that David and Annabel failed to clean her shoes.
I bite my tongue and refrain from suggesting to Princess that if she wears dark glasses at Chemist Warehouse she may not be recognised.

I suggest to David that he handled the situation with far more patience than I’d be capable of mustering……….”Oh, it happens all the time”, he sadly declares.
This is a man who remembers the good times of Pharmacy.

Annabel tells me she isn’t in Pharmacy to be a robot.
You go girl!
This is a girl that speaks my language.

David prepares the prescription for "Always" Wright and gives me patient and precise instructions………….which I appreciate because the script is for a Bricanyl Turbuhaler.

I chat with David and Annabel for a few more minutes before realising the only customers they are getting are coming from the Medical Centre, which means about two per hour.
This brings into focus the determination of the Pharmacy to attend the needs of their patients and the failure of the Medical Centre to consider theirs.

On one hand $68 was forked out for a 3+ hour wait.
On the other, one prescription in 5 minutes with service and engaging conversation.
Do Doctors regard themselves as being so special that they are able to treat their customers with such contempt?
Yes, of course they are patients, but as customers they can make choices as to where they spend their health dollars, whether it is their own money or Medicare’s.

Mrs "Always" Wright is now faced with a dilemma.
She is on the lookout for another Doctor but is fiercely loyal to this particular Pharmacy.

It amazes me that Doctors literally get away with blue murder with regard to how they run their business, yet Pharmacists are locked into a culture of both care and retail.
The only care displayed by the Medical Centre on this occasion was that they simply couldn’t care less about anything other than the almighty dollar.

Pharmacists and Doctors are both DoHA “contractors”, yet Pharmacies are frequented by impatient time-poor people waving prescriptions with urgency, and Doctors surgeries are filled with people grateful of the opportunity to wait for hours.

Where did Pharmacy go wrong?

Chris Wright.

October 2008.


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