Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Walgreen's POWER Outages Continue: The Emergence Of "Deep Pill 2"

Get it? Walgreen's calls its initiative to redefine the future of retail pharmacy its POWER program. POWER outage....you with me? 'Cause people are outing it....bwwwaaahhhaahhaa...

I'm so damn funny it's a wonder I can be around myself all day without my head exploding.

At any rate, here's my original post featuring a source I've dubbed "Deep Pill" exposing what life is like in the real world of a Walgreens central-fill POWER pharmacy. Tonight we'll let "Deep Pill 2" give us the scoop on conditions at a POWER retail store. I am tired of body and weak of brain this night, so I'm pretty much just gonna run Deep Pill's story unedited. I'm sure you'll agree that story speaks for itself. And that we're all, pharmacists and customers alike, very fucked if Walgreen's gets its way:

 I worked for the WAG in AZ for just about 10 years.  I have seen many changes... but not as destructive as POWER.  Your article about POWER was spot-on.  I wanted to share with you some of the problems I experienced with POWER during my tenure at the WAG.

WAG, for those of you not in the know, is Walgreen's stock symbol. 

I was the pharmacist at the store-level.  Not sure if you were aware of this... but anyone who wanted to remain a staff pharmacist at the store-level when POWER was rolled out, had to re-apply for the job.  I kid you not.  After working for a solid 8 years, I had to re-apply for my job.  For those pharmacists who wanted to transfer to the CPO, they did not have to re-apply-- they were automatically accepted.  Then WAG spent a TON of money to hire an independent hiring company to make the determination whether or not we could remain a staff pharmacist at the store level.  This whole process was absolutely stressful on all of us.  Pharmacy managers who wanted to stay at store level were exempt from re-applying. 
I made the cut.  Great, right?  Not so much.  I had to deal with understaffing, angry customers who were misrouted by our "colleagues" at the call center, managing two lanes in the drive-thru, customers at the counter, and customers at the consultation window.  I forgot to mention flu shots.  Now POWER looks great on paper. All this "free time" to provide MTM services (which all our friends at APhA are probably orgasming to...).  This simply wasn't the case. (emphasis mine)  Because of the lack of staffing, we had zero time to perform MTM services.  Our District Supervisors told us time and time again to call upon the store manager if we needed extra help in the pharmacy.  Well, a lot of the store managers were not willing to come back to help us out.  They had their own crap to do.  I don't blame them... but I digress. 
One of the biggest problems I had to deal with was the amount of errors that I caught from our wonderful "colleagues" at the call center (CPO).  These errors were careless and made my job a lot harder.  Let me give you an example.  I was counseling a patient on her Prometh w/ Codeine.  The sig: Take one or two TABLETS every 6 hours as needed for cough.  Now I know this may not sound like a huge deal... but I have a huge problem letting a prescription leave my pharmacy that has a blatant error.  In order to fix this, I had to delete the prescription, find the hard copy, re-scan it so that our wonderful CPO can retype it.  Mind you, this patient is in the drive-thru wanting to get home because she's feeling lousy.  So the whole verification process at the CPO starts all over again... 
The District Supervisors encouraged us to fill out an error form online so they can take proper corrective measures with the people at the CPO. (Drugmonkey to malpractice lawyers; those error forms are no doubt stored somewhere, and subpoenable I bet) I have no idea if that was done or not.  I'd still get error after error.  Let me say this: I totally understand that technicians make mistakes while performing data entry.  What makes me frustrated is when pharmacists at the CPO are under pressure to "make their numbers" and when quantity takes precedence over quality.  This isn't totally the pharmacists' fault.  I'm sure the corporate 'tards stress the importance of quantity quantity quantity.  These verification pharmacists at the CPO did not have to worry about the drive-thru, phones, customers, etc.  Their ONLY job is to verify prescriptions without any distractions.  One error (which I caught) was Augmentin 500mg Take 4 tablets an hour prior to dental appointment.  Of course the prescription image said Amoxicillin.  And of course, we at the store-level looked like retards when the patient came in to pick up their medication.  We had to take the blame from the patients for the errors that were made at CPO.  What makes this so ironic is that the pharmacists at the store-level actually prevented harm to the patient.  We were not allowed to talk bad or against the people at the CPO. 
Arizona is a mandatory counseling state.  I have seen pharmacists who do not counsel.  Combine that with the errors at the CPO can lead to a disaster.

I'd be willing to bet a Benjamin that it already has.

And that we're all fucked.

Thank you APhA.

Thank you Boards of Pharmacy.

But the biggest thanks of all..... goes to the Pharmacy America Trusts.

At least they're still a decent place to buy cigarettes. 

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've lost all hope in the future of this "profession".

Anonymous said...

Only a couple states have this, and the ones thatdir don't, like Texas, run their pharmacies the same as always. The latest news that we receive is a clear direction change away from the power model. The latest I've heard is one where the pharmacist sits out at a desk for counseling and the techs perform all the dispensing tasks and selling. I feel sorry for the states who got stuck piloting power but it is not the direction that wag is going in anymore.

Yolanda said...

My daughter wants to become a pharmacist. I am actively trying to discourage her.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:15am, I would like to direct you to Jim Plagakis' blog and his discussion on the "new direction" of WAG. I don't think you'll find many supporters of this new program either. Please take your head out of the sand. WAG is pushing as hard as possible for the elimination of the retail pharmacist, they are just trying to disguise it.

Pharmacist said...

There are a lot of other good professions. Look around.

Anonymous said...

The whole concept seems insane. It's bad enough when you have floater pharmacists who aren't invested at all with the patients at your store, but people who are even further removed, ugh..

TiredRPh said...

I am a rph at another big box pharm in AZ. Calling wAGs for a transfer is a nightmare. Call answered by tech (noprob). I say I am rph calling for transfer. Tech asks for pt name & dob & rx needed. Then I am tx to RPh to whom I repeate the whole schpeal. "oh, let me tx you to the TRANSFER rph". WTF???? Why can't I be tx when I identify my reason for calling to the tech? Why do I have to REPEAT the pt info and rxs needed to all THREE people. It's a 15 minute minimum time to get a damn copy.

LippsService said...

Reading this makes me actually thankful for where I am working at right now. I recently got hired onto a.....wait for it.....MAIL ORDER PHARMACY! *Gasp*! I felt so dirty taking the job, I feel like I'm fucking the enemy. But reading this post, one thing is clear: the place I'm at, they actually get what Deep Pill's concerns are. When I was first hired, the higher ups came into our training group and told us, "We care about quality, not quantity". I know what you're thinking, "Yeah, right". I did too. But since I've started there, I've seen them let go of data entry techs that type faster than I because they have so may error rates and the pharmacists and higher ups stress all the time how important it is tht we have no errors since we send a three months supplies and so the patient isn't just taking the wrong meds for a month, but for THREE MONTHS. Look, where I work, it isn't perfect and I know everyone considers mail order bullshit and it's an insurance ran mail order, but at least they are getting it more than fucking Walgreens. This makes me sad for the employees of Walgreens. I worked there when it was good times and I was lucky enough to jump ship right before all of this POWER went down. Thanks for the great insight into something that, sadly, several of us already know, but just turn the other cheek.

Anonymous said...

"Drugmonkey to malpractice lawyers; those error forms are no doubt stored somewhere, and subpoenable I bet"

No they are not, and you should be thankful for that. We have modern error reporting systems because congress exempted these reports. Good points otherwise.

Anonymous said...

According to SEC filings (WSJ online, 11-19-11), Walgreens CEO received total compensation of $12.1 million for FY 2011 (a 51% increase!). His base salary was a more modest 1.2 million (only a 12% increase).
Walgreens CFO received 4 million for a 16% increase.
Meanwhile, pharmacy budgets have been slashed and techs are scrambling between stores for enough hours to keep their insurance. And Houston market pharmacists received a whopping raise of less than 1%. Interesting, no?

Glamazing said...

Ah yes, this sounds like my life. Grrr. I don't keep up on a lot of the corporate mumbo jumbo bullshit, so this actually makes the recent descent into batcrap-crazy busy days with dozens of problems. Add to that you can never get someone who speaks English when calling insurance companies for info and you have a cluster...and so do I.
Thanks, WAG. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This POWER program is an aggressive attempt to render Pharmacists unnecessary at the store level. In combination with tireless lobbying on behalf of our Corporate overlords (aka, benevolent job creators, crux of the economic machine of laissez faire adam smith philosophy, free from the evils of government oversight and accountability, remarkably uncorrupted by money, nepotistic, elite few) my extremely expensive degree from a private institution in a major northeastern city is to be rendered fucking useless. Should have known when during my freshman year, the pharmacy class was corralled into a class room to be corporately indoctrinated by good looking thirty somethings with BMW keys and snappy suits. For those of you that are thinking about pharmacy school, I have two comments. First of all, Fuck Off. You're going to oversaturate the market further and I don't want to go back to college yet. Second, get a history degree instead. Learn what no one wants you to learn, how governments are corrupted by the same fiat currency that they create. While at it, look up the definition of fascism and tell me that that is not a more accurate description of our current econopolitical system. When universities tie themselves to corporations (CVS payed for a lovely new health sciences building at my school) will they not be more open and/or susceptible to the production of workers deemed necessary by their generous financiers, over thinkers?

TheMadApothecary said...

how does making something insanely complicated save money exactly? technicians don't make much money (most don't clear even $25k per year) they still have to employ technicians and pharmacists for the call centers. now they don't accept one of the largest pdm in the market. i passed a wags today, their sign said "long lines we accept cigna, medco,and wellcare" i know cvs programs are strange, but this is just unfathomable to me.