Rite-Aid has made a critical error

Jp Enlarged


The Slide Show above is from our friend Peon.  Peon has gone above and beyond to support you in a professional life on the job.  He deserves our gratitude.

Rite-Aid has made a significant tactical error with the 15 minute guarantee program.  I suspect that the designers of this project are not pharmacists.  I also suspect that the mid-management pharmacists acted as “Yes Men” because they fear for their jobs even more than the pharmacists in the stores worry.   Rite-Aid could fire every single middle-manager, but they could not fire pharmacists and get away with it. 

At this very moment:  Rite-Aid stock shares sell for $1.03  That has got to tell you something.  What kind of company would purposely alienate its most important employees by bullying them?  Actually, that is easy to answer.  The kind of company whose stock shares have sold for less than a 20 ounce soda for over a year. 

Unwittingly, Rite-Aid has created the conditions that are ripe for “Rebellion”.   I use that word “Rebelliion” because it fits.  Not a violent “Rebellion”, but a very quiet “Rebellion”.

Get this:  Every single time you step away from the “Prescription Mill” and engage in an independent professional activity, YOU ARE ENGAGING IN A PROFOUND REVOLUTIONARY ACT.  You are stepping away from the strict piece-work role where Rite-Aid wants you to stay and you are acting as a medical professional.  The key word is ”independent”.   You are a professional.  You can act independently.  You have that discretion.   Remember, you have the law on your side.

It can be as simple as this.  You leave the “Prescription Mill”  and you walk over to the register.  Mrs. Wisacki, an elderly widow, is there.

“Mrs. Wisacki, I notice that it has been 50 days since you last got your Avapro and it is a 30 day supply.  Are you taking it every day like you are supposed to.?”

Mrs. Wisacki looks at her hands and mutters, “Every other day.  I’m in the donut hole.”

“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.  I’ll call your doctor and see if we can switch to Losartan.  It’s generic.  It will be less expensive.”

That is independent professional behavior.  That is you practicing pharmacy.  That is not any of Rite-Aid’s business.  You make them look good because you practice in a Rite-Aid store and they should be thankful that your nametage says “Rite-Aid” and suck it up.  That 30 second REVOLUTIONARY ACT is the kind of behavior that will get pharmacy back for pharmacists.

This essay is coming from my thinking path as I start writing “The Rebels of Comfort”.  I hope to have it up for sale on Lulu.com before the 4th of July.  Read “The Prisoners of Comfort” and “The Dangerous Book for Pharmacists”.   They will make a difference in your life on the job.  Trust me.



  1. Peon  •  Mar 23, 2011 @4:33 pm

    Jim, you hit the mark: Rite-Aid has made a tactical error. If any one has recently been to a hospital or a more modern physician office, you will find a change. The change is toward better quality healthcare and better patient satisfaction. This is exactly the direction in which pharmacy should be moving. We need to be ‘taking care’ of the patient, trying to improve patient satisfaction, and provide better quality care. Chains like Rite-Aid are stepping back in time by re-creating the ‘prescription mill’. Patients may be happy and satisfied to get their prescriptions in 15 minutes without counseling, but is that quality care? Will the pharmacist have time to look over the patients records and catch problems? Yes, Rite-Aid has made a tactical error because the pharmacists cannot meet that guarantee without cutting a lot of corners, and the pharmacists are not going to do that. I am betting on Rite-Aid pharmacists being professionals and when they act in a professional manner that will spell doom for the 15 minute guarantee. The CEO is going to look like he has ‘egg’ all over his face when he has to retract those ads.

  2. Peon  •  Mar 23, 2011 @9:01 pm

    In one of my past posts, I said that all pharmacists should contact their state board about Rite-Aid and the 15 minute guarantee, and I said that I had contacted my state board. I received a reply from my state board and they said this issue would be brought up at the next board meeting. Everyone…and I do mean everyone needs to get on board this issue. This one is winnable because Rite-Aid has made a stupid error in judgement.

  3. NY Peon  •  Mar 23, 2011 @9:24 pm

    @Peon That’s great about your BOP. I am looking forward to see what happens. And actually, if even one BOP kills the program for safety reasons, that could spell the end of the program nationwide. Imagine the competition latching on to that in their TV ads.

  4. pharmacyslave2000  •  Mar 24, 2011 @6:08 am

    I’d like to thank everyone who has contacted their State Board about this program and especially Peon. We can win this battle. RAD is on the ropes. They have stores on strike in suburban Cleveland (due to other issues) and I’ve read many negative comments on this new program on other message boards. I’m actually excited about what we may be able to accomplish and how this accomplishment may start pharmacy back on the right path. Let’s finish the job.

  5. Peon  •  Mar 24, 2011 @9:26 am

    This is a bit of an update on Rite-Aid. It appears that patients are not enthused about the 15 minute guarantee and that the vast majority don’t want the pharmacist rushing to fill their prescriptions. As Jim says, Rite-Aid has made a tactical error. Pharmacists certainly don’t like it, but something unexpected to Rite-Aid, is the patients don’t like it either. Please check out the link below to see what patients are saying about it.

  6. Retired R.Ph.  •  Mar 24, 2011 @12:47 pm

    In 2008, Philip Burgess, national director of pharmacy affairs for Walgreens, testified in a deposition that he saw no link between pharmacist workload and errors.
    Again, in 2008,James DeVita, Massachusetts Board of Pharmacy, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and CVS’s director of quality assurance was quoted in the media with a statement regarding pharmacy workload volume saying that before the board would take any action, they should assess other factors, including whether a pharmacy has technology that lets it handle higher volumes safely.-whatever that means.
    When it’s all boiled down, what these regulators are really saying is that they’ve got great jobs with very little heavy lifting and they want to keep them.

  7. pharmacyslave2000  •  Mar 24, 2011 @6:11 pm

    We need to get the word out on these “coupon” and “customer” forums. Urge these people to call 1-800-riteaid or email the company to voice their displeasure. The customer opinions are much more important than the employee opinions.

  8. Davey, RPh Intern  •  Mar 25, 2011 @11:34 am

    I work for WAG. It seems like “making everyone a waiter” has been out the door for some time now. We are implementing some kind of MTM program soon, and I’ve heard a lot of the particulars. They are going to roll out the program and collect a fee from patients, and try to get third party payors to pay for it eventually.

    In our company, I’ve felt free to make someone wait as long as possible, with very little flack and mouthing back. One poorly speaking woman rolled in the drive thru last night and gave me a script, and just like every 1 in 5 people, they asked me “when will this be ready?” before I even saw it. Bad start. THEN, the woman said “I don’t want to wait for it, I want it right now”. Without a word, and to her surprise, the drive thru bin opened up right back to her before I even looked at it. I said one word right before she sped off: “Ok.”

    We are more in control of our daily lives in a pharmacy than we think. These companies roll out programs and force their staff to do the impossible. I’m an intern, but I just do what I do. I always overestimate wait times (an “hour” if I know it will take “15 minutes” to allow for insurance rejections”), and I do this with confidence. Your patients will admire your confidence and won’t talk back to you. Have a spine and stand your ground.

    I’m off to work myself and will continue to confidently suggest somewhere around one hour waits. I always keep my promises and this is why they don’t contest me. RAD can’t possibly guarantee the wait time because it’s up to the STAFF’s judgment.

    Have a good weekend, pharmers.

  9. Peon  •  Mar 25, 2011 @6:27 pm

    Davey, I am glad to hear that at WAG you don’t have the company pressuring you to get rx’s filled quickly. I work for Wal-Mart and the company does not put any pressure on us pharmacists at all regarding wait times. It is better to over-estimate the wait time than under estimate it. If you under estimate it, the customer comes back and gets mad because it is not ready. We give a wait time depending on how busy we are and this can vary greatly. At the first of the month, an hour wait is not unusual. What is so ridiculous about Rite-Aid is that there is no way the pharmacists can meet such a schedule unless it is a new store and they don’t have many customers. Lets say you get to work and look in the que and there are 30 to 50 rx’s to fill, the phone rings and Elmira calls to request her 5 usual refills, a customer walks up with a list of 7 rx’s after being discharged from the hospital. Now, here comes a patient with 1 rx and expects to have it 15 minutes. What do you do about the 50 in the que the 5 phoned in and the 7 rx’s from the waiting patient? I have not mentioned that one of the patients that walked up, you may need to get patient information from them and insurance information. Lets suppose they have an odd insurance card and you have to phone to get the bin and pcn numbers or even the id number? We all know the problems we have with insurance companies. Suppose the company is having problems processing insurance claims. Suppose the insurance companies computers or down. Suppose you need an over-ride. At the same time, you run out of paper in the printer, you need to change the ink cartridge, a customer comes to the window to ask for a recommendation, you cannot read one of the rx’s. Sometimes all this crap can hit you at one time. The Rite-Aid guarantee is so out of touch with reality that it is completely absurd. It had to be some moron that came up with this idea; someone that never worked a day in a pharmacy. It makes you wonder if the whole company is run by a bunch of morons.

  10. WrongAid  •  Mar 26, 2011 @10:02 am

    “Every 1 in 5 asks when will it be ready”. Wow Davey! Where are you and is anyone hiring? We have a 100% “How long’ll it take?” rate here in my slice of heaven. I worked one if these mythical stores once. Only about 45 minutes distance. It was a Saturday. Filled about 100 scripts. I saw 0 Medicaud scripts. Yes zero! They openly displayed Sudafed for the public to see. The people could understand basic concepts such as how to use a signature capture device or the term “no refills”. Man I should never have worked that store. 20% pay cut if I want to apply for the area though.

  11. Davey, RPh Intern  •  Mar 26, 2011 @3:01 pm

    Haha I should be explicit: 1 in 5′s first question is “how long”. Other dumb questions at the beginning may be “is this covered by my insurance?”…”how much is it?”…Ok, you’re right. It’s more like 3 out of 5. But those other questions are just as annoying. I love saying “it will take me ten minutes to process this and figure out” when really it would take 2 minutes, but because I want them to leave so badly, I say the former.

    But I have empathy for you WrongAid. I do get sent to wonderful stores. WAG is pretty organized, less its 24 hour stores, which always seem to attract the worst, most down-trodden technicians and staff with various licensures. We still get crazy monsters who resort to name-calling if they can’t have their Vicodin 3 days early, because a staff person let them have it before, but now me, a young gun who is just “substituting”, is saying no.

    Every store I work at, I complain and tell the pharmacists I’m working with that something has to change, and that they should dare to dream about how much better they could have it if they OPENLY COMPLAINED about their jobs in hordes and droves to their actual patients, to get them on their side. You see, regular Americans know how bad it sucks to work in this country. Very few reap the real monetary benefits of the back-breaking work of the suffering hoi polloi. “PEOPLE” can overcome slave drivers. Pharmacy is just another meek enclave of the US work sector that has been brow-beaten into sedation with, let’s face it, a pitiful amount of money for what they do after taxes are taken out. You need to win people to your side, and complain openly about your job with people when they complain. You can say “I know my company promised this and this to you. But let’s face it. I’m just a man. I can’t physically do that for you, no matter how much I want to. I just can’t do my job correctly in that amount of time. If you could give me as much as an extra hour more, I would really appreciate it. If that’s a deal breaker for you, I understand.”

    If your patient actually LEAVES and never comes back after that, I’ll be very very surprised. People power is so underrated. Show them what your job is like, explain to some people what we actually do all day. They’ll be grateful that you’re taking the time.

  12. The Redheaded Pharmacist  •  Mar 26, 2011 @8:18 pm

    I will be formulating my letter to my state BOP tonight to complain about this 15 minute guarantee promotion. The fact that this kind of farce still exists shows me that there is no recognizable leadership from within the profession of pharmacy and that we must fend for ourselves if we ever want anything done. It’s time for pharmacists to really stir things up and explain to our respective boards just why this Rite Aid promotion is beyond idiotic.

    Honestly, watching a company like Rite Aid being managed by complete morons makes me want to go to business school. If those idiots get well paying powerful jobs in the business world then I surely have enough brains to make it myself! Seriously, how hard can it be?

  13. Aaron  •  Mar 27, 2011 @1:07 am

    You have all the winning points. The battle for pharamcy’s place in the future should be won. You have to continue the fight until the middle managers are subsumed to the professionals.

    The problem is not with new pharmacists expectations entering the profession, they expect the world. The problem whether discussing Rite AIDs, CVD, or WAG is the MBAs, who also beleive the world is their oyster. The MBAs though understand nothing of the salty musky taste of a great oyster. The professionals oyster is service to society and civilization. The MBAs want only to take, but what makes a great medical professional is the give-and-take. Yes, you get your check, but god-dammit you did some good. The MBAs consider that a liability.

  14. LGM!  •  Mar 27, 2011 @10:05 am

    While I don’t work for Rite Aid and my company will not match this idiotic gift card idea….the pressure they put on us about “wait times” is darn near as bad. We get a weekly email from our SP with a chart of our “wait times” and “ready when promised” times….and they highlight the stores not making the cut. These are things the company always kept track of but never hassled us like they do now…and this is on top of all the outreach calls etc we have to make. Oh yeah….we also get a weekly report card on how long it takes us to pick up the drive-thru/phone!
    Instead of letting us use our professional judgement to determine when a script will be ready?

  15. Peon  •  Mar 29, 2011 @8:24 pm

    Wal-Mart got on this ‘wait-time’ trip a few years ago, but they stopped bothering us. One reason we need to win the Rite-Aid battle is to keep these other chains from pushing it or something similiar to it. If we could get the state boards to regulate against guaranteed wait times, it might send a message to the other chains that they had better not rush pharmacists.

  16. Dan  •  Mar 29, 2011 @11:48 pm

    I am sorry Davey but you are incorrect. While it is true Walgreens does not guarantee a specific wait time, their goal is less than 15 minutes for all waiting rxs and between 35 and 40 % of rxs to be waiters. A very senior executive told me on a store visit that all their “research” shows patients do not want to wait any longer so this is what we need to try to deliver. I am not a strong believer in this policy but, while I have not heard of anyone losing their job over it, underperforming stores may be subject to disciplinary action. So it most certainly on every managers mind. And as far as MTM, we have been doing it and getting paid for about a year now.

  17. WrongAid  •  Mar 30, 2011 @6:46 am

    “Honestly, watching a company like Rite Aid being managed by complete morons makes me want to go to business school. If those idiots get well paying powerful jobs in the business world then I surely have enough brains to make it myself! Seriously, how hard can it be?”

    You have to be able to make consistently bad decisions. And when you know they’re bad decisions you have to be able to BS people into thinking they are good decisions. Think of your immediate manager. You know that person thinks most of the policies are stupid but they always put some positive spin on it because that is what they get paid to do. Could you do it?

  18. Peon  •  Mar 30, 2011 @9:18 am

    WrongAid, I have thought the same thing. Pharmacists are intelligent people. They would not be where they are today if they were not. So, if you are smart enough to be a pharmacist, then you are smart enough to do just about anything.
    The 15 minute guarantee by Rite-Aid is something totally out of touch with everyday pharmacy. The people at the top could not have a clue about pharmacy. They are living in their corporate dream world.

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