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How To Call In A Prescription

by Dan Hughes
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How To Call In A Prescription

How To Call In A Prescription

If you’re like me, you probably take several different prescription medications at any given time. You may be taking a combination of pills from multiple doctors and hospitals, as well as over-the-counter meds and herbal remedies. And if you don’t keep this stuff in its original packaging, it gets even more confusing.
You might find yourself trying to remember what pill comes next when you pop them all in one afternoon. Or maybe you need to get refills fast so you can pick up something else before it runs out. Either way, the last thing you want is to waste money on extra shipping charges because you didn’t order enough medication online. Luckily, there are ways to save money without missing a dose.
One of these methods involves calling in prescriptions by telephone. While some people prefer to do this themselves using landline phones, others choose cellphones since they’re always with them. Whichever method you decide to go with, here are the basics for how to call in a prescription.
Call Your Pharmacy First
Before you start dialing numbers, make sure you know where your local pharmacy is located. This makes things easier later on. For example, if you live in Los Angeles but you need to fill a prescription in San Francisco, you won’t want to spend an hour driving around town looking for a place to ask. Knowing exactly where the pharmacy is located ahead of time also helps ensure that you get the right medicine — not just any old generic version. Generic drugs tend to look similar to their brand name counterparts, but sometimes manufacturers cut corners and produce lower quality products.
Once you’ve got directions for your pharmacy, check to see whether it has a customer service hotline or website listing a department that handles prescriptions. If nothing exists, try asking someone who works in the business about getting a prescription filled. Many pharmacies offer free consultations with pharmacists who specialize in filling prescriptions. Ask if such a service is available and ask how much it costs.
Make Sure You Have All Of Your Information Ready
Next, head off to the computer and pull together everything you need to complete the prescription refill request form. Make note of the patient information — full name, address, date of birth, insurance provider, doctor’s name and office location, medical condition(s) being treated, allergies, current prescriptions and dosages, and any other pertinent details regarding why you need the medication.
After making sure you have all this information handy, you should then head down to the nearest drugstore and pick up supplies you’ll need for the call. These include:
A working landline or cellphone
Cordless handsets are best because they allow you to roam outside the range of the corded handset. But if you don’t have access to one, a standard wired phone will work fine. Just make sure the line isn’t busy or tied up while you’re talking.
A pen and paper
While you could print the instructions directly from your home printer, I recommend printing out the instructions so you can read them while waiting for the pharmacy to answer your call.
Your list of active medicines
This can be printed out from a spreadsheet, or copied from the labels inside your bottles.
Note: If you have trouble reading the directions or simply aren’t comfortable writing legibly, you may want to consider hiring someone to write your prescription instead. Some pharmacies provide this service, which generally costs between $30-$50 per prescription.
Dialing Instructions
Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to figure out exactly how to call in a prescription. There are two basic types of systems used nationwide: Advanced Pharmaceutical Service (APS), which uses PIN verification; and Interactive Voice Response (IVR), which doesn’t require a personal identification number. Both systems require the use of touch tone keys. However, IVR systems often allow users to enter data via keypad, whereas APS requires customers to type in numerical codes. Be aware that each system may vary slightly depending on the state you live in.
In general, though, both systems follow the same steps. After placing the call to the pharmacy, you’ll first hear a series of tones indicating that your call needs to be routed to the appropriate area. Then you’ll be prompted to enter your PIN code or account ID. Once you do this correctly, you’ll receive the results of the prescription refill.
Here are the most common commands you’ll have to deal with during this process:
“1” indicates that you haven’t ordered any refills recently.
“2” requests new orders.
“3” asks for nonprescription items.
“4” lets you know that your call cannot be completed due to technical problems.
“5” instructs you to hang up and call back later.
“6” tells you that the pharmacist isn’t currently available to help you.
“7” advises you that the problem was successfully resolved.
“8” informs you that the pharmacy will mail your refills instead of delivering them personally.
“9” lets you know that the pharmacist will email you a copy of your prescription.
“0” cancels the entire transaction.
The important part is keeping track of the various numbers that you punch into the phone each time. It shouldn’t be too hard once you understand how the system works. Remember to pay attention to the screen while you’re inputting your information. Don’t assume that every number is going to mean the exact same thing. Even seemingly minor differences in phrasing can affect the outcome of your prescription.
For example, let’s say you’re having a heart attack and need immediate emergency surgery. You know that your surgeon wants a certain type of blood thinner called Heparin at 100 units of strength. So after hanging up the phone, you carefully navigate through the menu options until you reach “100,” hit “2,” and enter “Heparin.” Unfortunately, the person on the other end hears “100,” hits “5,” and sees “Unit Code Please Enter Patient Name.” Since you entered the wrong command sequence, you’ll now give the pharmacist incorrect information. Hopefully, you’ll still be able to talk them down long enough to correct the mistake, but if not, you’ll have to call again.
So far, it sounds like a really complicated process, right? That’s because it is. On average, Americans spend nearly 10 minutes on the phone each month ordering household goods or refilling prescriptions.
However, if you stick to the above guidelines and follow the simple steps outlined below, you’ll be calling in prescription renewals in no time flat. Before you know it, you’ll find that you’re saving money on the cost of shipping and wasting less time than ever.
Making the Phone Call
First things first: Do not leave a message! Unless you absolutely must contact the pharmacist immediately, the quickest way to avoid spending money is to have the pharmacy itself handle your request. Otherwise, you’ll incur long distance charges. Also, unless you’re dealing with a particularly friendly pharmacist, he or she may ignore your messages. Instead, you should follow up within 24 hours to confirm receipt of the prescription and to inquire as to when it can be picked up.
Keep in mind that you should only call for prescription refills if you absolutely cannot obtain the medicine elsewhere. If you have health issues or are pregnant, you should consult your physician before attempting to purchase medication over the phone.
Most pharmacies charge fees for handling your prescription refills. Prices vary widely by region and pharmacy, so it’s a good idea to shop around before committing to a specific price point. Typically, the highest prices occur during peak times, such as weekends and holidays. You should also watch out for sales and discounts offered by certain pharmacies.
As mentioned earlier, many pharmacies now offer online services. They usually allow you to schedule appointments, search for medications, review patient info, and order refills. Depending upon your particular situation, you may wish to utilize these services for faster service.
Finally, another option you may wish to explore is a third party company that specializes in providing telephonic prescription renewal services. Online pharmacies typically offer cheaper rates than those found at brick-and-mortar establishments. Third party companies also eliminate the possibility of human error, which can result in mistakes being made during refills. With these advantages, it’s easy to see why so many people opt to use online pharmacies rather than calling their local ones.

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