CVS Will Automatically Refill Your Prescription, Consent Be Damned

CVS pharmacies apparently don’t need consent to enroll customers in ReadyFill, a program that signs customers up for the maximum allowable number of prescription refills and then robocalls them when their drugs are ready. According to a veteran pharmacist, the automatic enrollments began after CVS’ corporate office set specific performance targets that would affect bonuses for managers and pharmacists. Inside, the pharmacist tells us what ReadyFill is, how it works, and how to escape those annoying robocalls…

1) ReadyFill is a voluntary opt-in program for maintenance medications to be refilled when you’re about to run out. Nearly every pharmacy has something like it, CVS took it company wide in the middle of last year. It’s a fine idea in theory.

2) You receive a call when it’s ready (which is actually three days after it’s filled in the case of ReadyFill prescriptions since they’re filled slightly ahead of time). If any filled prescription is not picked up, a reminder call is made on day three and day seven. Most people like this.

3) There are also two other types of calls that happen. There are robo-calls that supposedly remind people that medication is due to be refilled. This sucks because the pharmacy has no idea who is getting robocalled, and this person will usually call the store up and talk to a confused technician who can only guess at what you might need refilled. These calls are also apparently misinterpreted that the medication is ready, which it’s actually not so sometimes people come in expecting to pick it up and are upset when the pharmacy has no idea what they’re looking for.

4) The second type is store-generated calls about refill reminders. The criteria used to be that a maintenance medication had to be coming up due for refill and there also had to be at least one medication that was overdue. Earlier this year they added a category of just overdue medications. In high volume stores, this can be over 100 people that have to be called. Every single employee hates these. They’re incredibly stupid because people generally stop taking a medication for a good reason, but we’re supposed to ask people if they want to refill it. One store once called a customer that had died. Oops.

5) Okay, back to ReadyFill. What happened at the start of this year is one of the internal performance metrics for each store became the percentage of prescriptions enrolled and filled by the ReadyFill program. Since this (officially referred to as the Execution Scorecard) actually affects things like pharmacist (and upper management, natch) bonuses, a few stores took it upon themselves to automatically enroll *everything* that they could possibly enroll in this program, regardless of whether the customer wanted it or not and of course without their knowledge. I know this happens beacuse my father fills his medications at a store different from the one I work at and when he tried to refill his drugs over the phone the automated system told him it was already finished. He didn’t seem to mind it but I know there are customers who are going to be livid over this, and it’s just to satisfy an internal metric. Oh, and the refill reminder calls in #4 are also part of store execution, which is the only reason stores bother with them even though they’re hated.

I approached my district manager with the fact that the store was auto-enrolling prescriptions, which I felt could be an issue down the line. He didn’t care because as soon as they started doing that, they started making the number needed to satisfy the metric.

Please, please, please, if you are annoyed with the phone calls or were enrolled in ReadyFill without your knowledge, take it to corporate, not the store. It’s a pipe dream, but if enough people call and say that they’re pissed off by what they view as “world class customer service programs,” (really it’s “sneaky ways we fill your prescription and hope to collect insurance payment plus your copay”) maybe they’ll cut back some. I would even go as far as to threaten to take all your business to another pharmacy if the calls continue.

PREVIOUSLY: “Why Is CVS Automatically Refilling My Prescriptions?”
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