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Tips for better care from your doctor or pharmacist

Four Tips To Help You Get Better Care From Your Doctor And Pharmacist

“Sorry, but we never received your prescription. You better call your doctor.”

“We sent your prescription refill to your pharmacy a few days ago. Call them back and tell them to re-check their records.”

“If this is a true medical emergency please hang up and dial 9-1-1. If this is a hospital, doctor or pharmacy please press 1. If you want the billing department please press 2. If you want to schedule an appointment please press 3. For all other calls press 0.”

The differences between then and now

As much as technology has simplified our lives it has, at times, also made them more difficult and frustrating.

Growing up our family doctor made house calls. Yes, I’m that old! He came to our house with his big black leather bag filled with all kinds of goodies to help us feel better.

Think of it as the Mary Poppins bag for physicians.

If we needed him we’d call his office, his nurse would answer and BAM! We’d have an appointment that same day.

That was then and this is now. I’ve changed neurologists four times since being diagnosed 28 years ago. Overall that’s not too bad.

One of them had an impossible office filled with staff who were overworked and overwhelmed, so much so that once, when I needed a written prescription to initiate a pharmacy mail order plan, I was forced to mail them a self-addressed stamped envelope to make sure they sent me the darn scrip.

The frustration of trying to address urgent concerns

I can’t blame everything completely on technology, the state of healthcare, or human error, but if you have an urgent matter and need to speak to a doctor, or you need to order/reorder a prescription(s) in a timely fashion, it can be more than frustrating to spend time trying to get what you need. (And I’m not even mentioning issues with insurance companies.)

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me get what I need:

Get to know your pharmacist

Your pharmacist is an important ally. They are always available to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. Open communication with them can optimize care between them and your doctor that, in the end, will benefit you.


Be open and honest with your physician. I once had a neurologist who never looked at me when I spoke. He typed information onto his laptop, answered phone calls from his staff but never looked up. Once, after examining me, he tried to escort me out of his office before I was finished discussing my list. I spoke up by advocating for my needs. Then I changed doctors.

Be your own advocate

Bring a list of what you want to discuss and don’t leave the office until you are satisfied. If you’re uncomfortable asking questions ask someone to come along with you to help communicate with your doctor.

If you don’t understand something that’s been said, ask for it to be repeated or have the doctor write down the instructions or names of medications. This will help you avoid any confusion and lessen the need to phone the doctor’s office. It’s always optimal avoiding the pain of waiting through the entire number system before you can speak to a real, live person.

Cognitive help with apps

There are many available apps to download to your phone that will help remind you of important tasks. Setting up reminders to order medications or schedule doctor appointments will help you avoid any problems with your pharmacy, doctor or your own memory! Here is a list from Business Insider that runs the gamut from free to a few dollars, and here’s a list of apps (written by our own Jeri Burtchell) on the best MS apps for iPhone and Android.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • itasara
    12 months ago

    I miss the old days sometimes! I communicate with my physicians these days with MY CHART. Otherwise I hate calling on the phone. One doc was in an office and when I called the voice message listed every doctor in the office and I just wanted to get off the phone and scream. I hate listening to the voice mail message. I don’t mind the electronic chart, but at the same time, it is very impersonal. If I haven’t seen a particular doctor in several months b/c I don’t need to, then if I want to send that doctor a message or make an appt, the docs name is removed from the list so then I’m forced to use the phone. I am rather loyal and I stayed with my neurologist over 12 years — way too long. When he sent me to an MS specialist to read an MRI, I realized I should have gone to the specialist long before I did. As for prescriptions, I thought the electronic ones were novel, but now there are times I would rather have a paper script in my hand. The electronic ones don’t always go thru as planned.

  • Shelby Comito moderator
    12 months ago

    I hear you @itasara! So frustrating! Technology should allow for more efficient and thorough care, but sometimes it feels like it sacrifices quality for quantity. Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective here. – Shelby, Team Member

  • chalknpens
    5 years ago

    It’s great advice, Cathy, but for the problem that we don’t have good reception in our area and so have ditched our cell phone package. The more expensive packages with internet access are beyond our reach (and probably well beyond our cognitive levels.) I use sticky notes all over the desktop of my computer, and in most books that I am reading, and on the cabinets of the kitchen for a while. Calendars are essential, too, and I no longer balance the checkbook without my husband sitting with me. ‘Benign’ (just cognitive and emotional) rrms is a cruel term. I have a memory of having once had a good memory. I can’t learn new things, new technology, new passwords, etc. etc. I need a ladies’ maid, like Downton Abbey’s cast. But if wishes were horses…

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    I am sorry you have such terrible cell service in your area. I wonder if there’s someone you could contact to see if you can get special dispensation for having a disability – a way of paying for the more expensive service. That said, it sounds like you are making lemonade out of lemons by creating your own way of managing. Good for you.

    Yes, RRMS can be a cruel thief. I hope you have better days ahead…

  • Strider
    5 years ago

    Cathy, thank you for sharing this well put advice. I have experienced many of these issues over the past 15 years and learned these tips by bumps and grinds. At one point while completing my question list with my neurologist, I was charged double for using too much of his time. “Then I changed doctors.” I hope others will read and heed your advice. I wish I had the road map when my MS journey began!

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago


    So sorry you had to also experience these bumps but so glad we learn from our experiences. Thanks for sharing your views with us! Cathy

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