Due reasons of proximity to our family doctor and loyalty to a locally-owned pharmacy, we have our prescriptions filled at Murphy’s Parkdale Pharmacy.
It turns out that rather than a bona fide end to end digital system, requesting a refill sends a fax to the pharmacy.
On the other end of the equation, when renewals expire and the prescribing doctor needs to update the prescription, the pharmacy sends a request to the doctor. This request is sent by fax.
It’s remarkable that a mission-critical system is built on an ancient technology that amounts to a telephone-based network of remote printers. We once talked about building an online pizza ordering system using the same setup, but that was in 1995.
In my case, this creaky retro tech was exacerbated by the pharmacy having the wrong fax number for our doctor in their system, and so repeated faxes requesting approval for renewal went undelivered. But nobody knew that, because faxes.
I didn’t know that until today, though.
Last night I used the app to request a renewal, and everything went through without issue, but when I arrived at the pharmacy to pick it up this afternoon, it was nowhere to be found. While the pharmacy clerk was looking into the issue, one of their colleagues called me to tell me the prescription had expired and couldn’t be refilled.
The prescribing doctor is out until next week. Our family doctor’s office is closed. What to do? Fortunately the pharmacist had the discretion to issue a “continuing care” supply to keep me going.