Want “Everything” Refilled?

Indisputably, the VA Health Resource Center’s business line Pharmacy Customer Care, PCC, a call center that answers the phones for a bunch of VA pharmacies, can be a good deal for veterans and their family members calling for medication. Talking to a person is generally a whole easier than dealing with, for example, an automated refill line that makes you punch in presciptions numbers for the meds you need. You just tell a person that you want your Atenolol and Simvastatin and–PRESTO!!! With PCC contact reps’ being timed, however, it can get a little tricky if you get a contact rep more concerned about his time than the veterans whose calls he’s answering. Sadly enough, you’re likely to run into one sooner or later since not only contact reps’ bonuses but their jobs also depend on their average handle times. You can take charge of the call, however, and make sure you get the service you earned.

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To be sure, the PCC contact representative is going to answer the phone and start driving the conversation. They’re going to get the information they need to look up your files, figure out what you need, and get you off the phone as quickly as possible in most instances. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because you probably don’t want to stay on the line chatting with someone you don’t particularly know anyhow, and lots of other vets are waiting in queue for their turns. A contact rep simply concerned about helping you quickly but still helping you fully before going on to the next caller will likely do a fine job for you and what you’re calling about. It’s the contact rep who’s trying to protect his average handle time at your expense that you have to watch out for.

If all you’re calling about is a couple of meds, you simply tell the contact rep you need those two meds and let him go to work for you. He will tell you if it has refills, if it needs to be renewed, or if some other action needs to be taken like being removed from a “hold” status. No sweat. Let’s say, though, you’ve got a bunch of medications, and you want them all taken care of, every one of them, so you’ll get them in the mail in a week or week and a half or so. MAKE SURE your contact rep (1) refills all active medications that have a refill, and then (2) takes renewal action for anything that didn’t refill, whether that medication has expired or just run out of refills. Either way, your VA doctor will have to write new prescriptions for you. (Some pharmacies require PCC to transfer callers to their VAMC primary care team, a renewal line, or the VAMC’s own call center when they need a new prescription.) Don’t let your contact rep just say, “OK, I’ve refilled everything.” Make him call out each and every medication that he refilled, and THEN tell you each and every medication that did not refill and needs renewal action so you can tell him the meds for which you want him to ask the doctor to write a new prescription. It’s a two-step process: first, refills and, second, renewals. If the contact rep is overly worried about his average handle time, you’re likely to hear an ever-so-subtle change in his tone of voice, but you just hang right in there and make him do his job. Good contact reps won’t mind a bit. Who cares what the bad ones think, eh?



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