Pain of Prescribing by Phone

Whether due to the government shutdown or other factors, and not surprisingly, DEA has not yet responded to my questions about allowing stylus-signed fax orders for control substances. With pharmacists now administering flu vaccine in addition to their traditional duties a single telephone order for a control substance can take me 10 minutes or more.

Typically, the pharmacy technician answers the phone: "Can I put you on hold?" Five minutes of variously tolerable music later and the technician asks, "How can I help you?" I respond: "I need to order a refill of buprenorphine/naloxone for patient John Doe." Pharmacy technician: "Please hold for a pharmacist." Five more minutes of variously tolerable music later: "This is the pharmacist. How can I help you?"

In the time this takes I could have completed a short patient encounter.

Maybe the time has come to reconsider signing up for eprescribing of controlled substances. My electronic medical record service, Practice Fusion, still does not allow eRx of controlles substances in my state. I contact DrFirst, the only company I know that does. One year of service is $900, and they only connect with about three pharmacy chains, too few to be worth the money.

My new plan: Pharmacy technician: "Can I put you on hold?" Now I respond, "Yes. FOR A PHARMACIST."

So far it seems to work.

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