7 alternatives to calling your pharmacy

Long hold times and automated menus are frustrating. These tips can help you get in contact with your pharmacist.

Trying to call your pharmacy, but no one is picking up the phone? As seasonal respiratory infections continue to surge and U.S. drugstores struggle with staffing challenges, getting a pharmacist on the phone can sometimes be a challenge. But, that doesn’t mean you should give up and skip filling your meds. Here, we discuss ways to contact your pharmacist without the hold time.

7 alternatives to calling your pharmacy

It can be frustrating to navigate automated phone menus and wait on hold for long periods of time. If you need information about your prescription and can’t reach your pharmacist by phone, here are 7 other ways to get the help you need.

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1. Use the pharmacy’s website or mobile app

When customers call the pharmacy, they often ask questions that could be answered using the pharmacy’s mobile app or website.

Nowadays, most pharmacies offer an app or an online account to manage your prescriptions. These tools allow you to conveniently access your prescription records from your phone, tablet, or computer. From the comfort of your home, pharmacy apps typically allow you to:

  • Order prescription refills
  • Check on the status of your prescription
  • Find out how much your prescription will cost
  • Schedule a vaccine appointment
  • Request delivery of your prescriptions to your home

Some pharmacy apps also offer an option to request a new prescription from your healthcare provider when your prescription has no refills left. If your pharmacy doesn’t offer this option, you may be able to request refills on the patient portal website for your healthcare provider.

While it initially might feel like a hassle to set up an account, embracing the available technology will save you a lot of time calling your pharmacy in the future.

2. Consider the reason for your call

If you can’t get through to your pharmacist on the phone during business hours, it’s likely a sign that the pharmacy is extremely busy, short-staffed, or both. Oftentimes, however, customers call the pharmacist to ask questions that really should be directed elsewhere. 

For example, you may be wondering why your prescription copay has increased since last month. Instead of calling the pharmacist, consider calling your health insurance company. The member services department can access the details of your coverage, check on unmet deductibles, and tell you why the copay has changed. Your pharmacist does not set the copay amount. They simply submit an online claim, and the insurance plan determines the copay amount.

3. Call a different pharmacy

If you frequently have problems with your pharmacy not answering the phone or not having prescriptions ready on time, try switching to a different pharmacy. Since 90% of Americans live within 5 miles of a pharmacy, other options shouldn’t be too far away if you’re not receiving adequate service at your current pharmacy. Even if you have an insurance plan that prefers a certain in-network pharmacy, you may be able to use a pharmacy discount app, like SingleCare, to save money without insurance at an out-of-network pharmacy.

The easiest way to switch pharmacies is to ask your doctor’s office to send all of your prescriptions to the new pharmacy. Another option is to bring your empty, labeled prescription bottle to the new pharmacy or use their mobile app to request a transfer. As long as you still have refills remaining, the new pharmacy can typically transfer the prescriptions. (Some restrictions apply, however, depending on your state and the type of medication.)

4. Visit the pharmacy instead of calling

If your pharmacy isn’t answering the phone, you may have better luck going to the pharmacy in person for service. If you’re able, go inside the store instead of using the drive-thru window. Pharmacy staff members tend to prioritize customers who are waiting inside the store over other customers—including those calling on the phone—especially when the pharmacy is short on staff.

When you’re visiting the pharmacy in person, these steps can be real time-savers.

Avoid rush hour. If you can, plan your visit to the pharmacy during off-peak hours. On weekdays, pharmacies are usually less busy during the first hour after they open and the last hour before they close. Also, keep in mind that most pharmacies close for a lunch break in the early afternoon, so you’ll want to avoid visiting then.

If possible, avoid Mondays. Mondays are the busiest days for pharmacies. If possible, visit your pharmacy any day besides Monday. This is because most doctors’ offices reopen on Monday after being closed for the weekend, and pharmacies typically receive an influx of new prescriptions to fill. Pharmacies also tend to be extremely busy on the days leading up to a holiday weekend, the day after a holiday, and before a snowstorm. To avoid long lines and waiting, plan around these times if your situation allows flexibility.

Allow processing time for discounts. If you have an updated insurance card, a manufacturer savings voucher, or a prescription discount card, allow extra time for the pharmacy staff to update your records. They’ll need to reprocess the billing if your prescription was already prepared before you presented the card or coupon. Drug savings programs and discount cards are not simply scanned at the register like grocery coupons: Instead, the pharmacist or pharmacy technician has to process an online claim in order to apply the insurance or discount. It’s important for you to use these to save on your medications, but keep in mind you’ll need to practice a little patience.

5. Sign up for text notifications

Pharmacies are busy places. You may have experienced the frustration of waiting in a long line at your pharmacy, either in the store or at the drive-thru, only to find out that your prescription isn’t yet ready.

Do yourself the favor of signing up for text notifications from the pharmacy. This way, you will know whether your prescription is ready before you head to the pharmacy and won’t waste time calling to find out if it is ready. You also won’t waste time waiting in line only to find out it isn’t ready. 

6. Ask for a printed prescription

You may be trying to call your pharmacy to find out if they’ve received a new prescription from your healthcare provider. Providers commonly submit electronic prescriptions directly to pharmacies. This can be quite convenient, but unexpected delays sometimes occur. If your pharmacy isn’t answering the phone, it can be stressful not knowing the status of your prescription especially if you need to start taking it right away.

One way to avoid this scenario in the future is to ask your healthcare provider to give you a printed or handwritten prescription if your state allows it. This way, you have more control over the situation and can take the printed or written prescription to the pharmacy of your choice.

7. Plan ahead

Whenever possible, it is best to plan ahead when it comes to your prescription refills. Don’t wait until you take your last dose of medication to call for a refill, just in case of an unexpected delay. Allowing a buffer of a few days is always a good idea, just in case the pharmacist needs to order your medication if it’s out of stock or contact your healthcare provider for more refills.



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