Simplicity is not a word generally used to describe life in a wheelchair — or my career in technology — yet I find myself continually striving to simplify my life. My latest attempt is signing up for mail-order medications.
I tried Walgreens mail order a few months back and was completely frustrated. Despite the mail order business and pharmacy being part of the same company, the departments seemed to have little access to each others’ records, couldn’t figure out billing and just didn’t send my medications a few times. So I gave up and resumed my monthly trek to the pharmacy.
Later, returning to my quest for simplicity, I fired up the laptop one Saturday morning and typed “online drug store” into Google, hoping to find a company that wasn’t distracted by its brick-and-mortar business. Rather than do a bit of research or taking time to read customer reviews, I clicked on the first link that came up — Drugstore.com. It has a cool tagline — “the uncommon drugstore” — and an overly cluttered site that made me feel just like being in an actual drugstore. The pharmacy button took me to a page displaying a person in a white coat, so of course I went ahead and signed up. Yup, I have a few advanced degrees in technology, several certifications, and I decide that a website is legitimate after about three clicks. I really need to include some sort of “don’t use my methods at home” disclaimer with this column.
The signup process was not exactly self explanatory, but I muddled through. First, I added all my medications and saved them to my profile, after indicating I had insurance. Then I went to a different place on the site and entered in my insurance info, which they validated after three or four days. I proceeded to get a copy of my prescriptions from my doctor and mail them in as instructed. At this point I was having difficulty convincing myself this was going to be simpler than the local pharmacy, but I was already invested. After another week I received an e-mail saying my prescriptions had been accepted. I had asked my doctor for 90-day prescriptions at my last annual visit, thinking that made perfect sense since the bottle is always about 10 times bigger than it needs to be and I’m supposed to be on these pills for the rest of my life. However, apparently my insurance company only allows 30-day prescriptions. Boy, do I wish I could lower my ramp into the side of that insurance exec’s Beemer.
When I logged in to pay my co-pay via credit card, I noticed that instead of the regular $10 co-pay for each of my three medications, one costs $21, the second costs $8, and the other $3. All are generics, so I have no idea what is going on there, but I’m not about to let the extra $2 a month derail my quest for simplicity. Now the uncommon drugstore sends me very common e-mail invoices, shipping notices, and my meds in the mail dutifully each month. Now if I could just find a website that would pump gas for me every week.
With my newly acquired freedom from drugstore runs, I had time to play with a couple of useful new iPhone apps. The first is Dragon Dictation, which allows basic voice dictation to a text pad within your iPhone. The gratis price tag makes this a must-download, even for those with full hand function. After launching the app and dictating some text, you have the options to send the text to an e-mail, the clipboard or a text message. I particularly like it for composing a quick e-mail on the go and text messaging smack talk to my friends on game day.
Another free app recently launched by Logitech is the Touch Mouse. This basically turns your iPhone or iPod touch into a wireless touchpad for your Mac or PC. I wouldn’t recommend it if you already have a mouse or trackball setup that works well, but if you have some hand function without shoulder movement, this app could be fantastic. It also works well as a wireless mouse on your home theater PC.
My new favorite website is www.dropbox.com. This is basically a personal file sharing site that allows you to sync up to 2GB worth of files between computers and mobile devices for free. This completely erases the need to fumble with a USB thumb drive – yes, more simplifying. Dropbox has lightweight apps for Windows, Mac, Linux and iPhone, along with Web access if you’re using a friend’s computer. It also eliminates the need to ever e-mail yourself a file — and everything is automatically backed up.