I recently switched pharmacies, and realized that sometimes software is not the best solution. The previous pharmacy had a system where I could order refills by calling a phone number and typing in the 7 digit prescription number. When it was ready to pick up I got a text message (formerly an automated call). This works for anyone with a phone, even a landline. The new pharmacy has a phone app and a web site. But I am dead set against putting any apps on my phone except for music streaming. It is way too much of a hassle and I don't really use the 'data' feature on my smartphone (I use WiFi for music when I am at home). I am not going to register on yet another web site.

For me, the best UX is no UI - just the phone call. There is no security risk, no password to remember, nothing to get lost (I can call from any phone)... Where is the downside to not having any software? Can we move in this direction rather then trying to get everyone to "Download our App!" and "Register on our Website!" We don't want to.

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    It's also going to depend a lot on the users preference, my girlfriend would much prefer to order food over the phone while I refuse to order food if I can't do it online. Each has their own benefits, quicker response vs. saved credit card/order, but neither is objectively better. – DasBeasto Jan 31 '17 at 19:15
  • @DasBeasto Yes, I have preferences too. When you say "order food over her phone" do you mean call and speak with someone or use an App? Personally, I don't use my phone browser or any apps for something that seems much easier to do on my laptop. But, my laptop is at home, so there is an availability issue. I have known two women who only owned a smartphone and no computer at all. I cannot imagine doing things like email on a phone. If you lose or damage the phone (think 'ocean' here) then you cannot get in to your bank, your voicemail, your email, recover your passwords... Nightmare++! – user67695 Jan 31 '17 at 19:35
  • As for credit card, I would only store a credit card in a case of digital goods or shipped products (like Amazon). If I have to go in to the store to get my purchase anyway, I use the credit card (or even cash - wow) right there. The less places it is stored, the better. Cash even more so - not even trackable. – user67695 Jan 31 '17 at 19:38
  • I was referring to calling over the phone for her. Although I do mine online via laptop or app, makes little difference to me. I also do a majority of my email and banking via apps on my phone. Passwords, bank, email, etc is all store online so nothing is lost by the ocean except the device (and my temper likely). – DasBeasto Jan 31 '17 at 19:44

The best user experience would be multiple options to order refills from the pharmacy. Some users (like you) would prefer to call. Some might prefer to text. Others may prefer to use an app to remind them their Rx is running low. Let the user decide which method they want to use.

I agree that you shouldn't require customers to download an app, but many people hate making phone calls. I disagree that you have "nothing to lose" when calling in. Personally, I would be more likely to lose a phone number than to forget a password.

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  • So long as the "one best way" philosophy and cost-cutting do not eliminate the option I prefer. My phone remembers the phone number. But even if I am somewhere else, I can look up a phone number. I cannot look up my password if I am away from wherever it is stored or written down. And I am not going to remember lots of passwords for lots of sites, so that is just not an answer, probably for anyone. The password system is the single biggest issue facing computer use today. The next biggest issue is storing personal data. The phone-in system does not store anything beyond what the pharmacy has. – user67695 Feb 1 '17 at 14:37

It all depends on the complexity of a process. For simple stuff like the described situation, an automated phone call is easier and faster. But there are situations where the process is much more complicated and requires giving personal info. In that case an app or website is a better solution.

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  • I just wonder if the design process, after gathering the requirements and evaluating cost and benefit, could come up with "no user-software needed!" as the best approach. I hope so. – user67695 Jan 31 '17 at 19:13
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    If the process is simple enough, it will. – Patryk Michalik Feb 1 '17 at 6:42

To answer, there is no downside. Ultimately the goal is best UX, which here can be defined pretty easily: people getting their prescriptions can do so easily and efficiently, and perhaps memorably and conveniently.

Considering what you've shared about your own experience, there's a demographic that enjoys the no strings attached method of calling in. There's also, undoubtedly since they built mobile app, pay of their clientele that do use apps and do so happily. Perhaps they can order refills more easily than picking up the phone and calling into an automated system.

Even if they can't, it's more than likely that the ease of just keeping an app for your pharmacy for many people is more convenient than remembering a phone number.

So what's the right experience? It's a tough question to answer without more data from the pharmacy and it's regular visitors. It's possible that more people prefer your method but they see a trend where more people are using the app every month. In which case they are planning for the point where that mechanism is the primary be eliminating the alternative options, which is an absolute inconvenience for yourself and others but will save them money by only maintaining one system and training their employees for just the one.

There's no doubt that the app is more complex than a phone call, but the system running it all is likely very similar. The UX, however, depends on what's more expected by users. If they see more people using apps as a general practice, then it's safe to assume that eventually the same practice will occur with ordering more prescription drugs. It may never be the only method, but it may be what's best for users today.

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  • I don't even have to remember the phone number, it is stored in my phone! I also store the outgoing number that calls come from them (and other reminder sources like doctors) because I do not answer numbers I don't know (like ever)! It would be really unfortunate if the easiest and most secure method was lost because people didn't know about it and just went with the lemmings rushing toward the App cliff. This is actually what bothers me. I can't tell you how many times a product I liked disappeared because not enough people bought it. Phone Apps have been hard to install so I won't use them. – user67695 Feb 1 '17 at 0:29
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    I totally get it, and I'd argue (not knowing all of the facts) that you're probably in the right, though only for the time being. This is in part why SMS is still so prevalent, even with major chat services like FB messenger and WhatsApp; it just works. But, as in that case, there are serious limitations with just a phone number and phone-based system, which an app can build upon and make better...in theory, and if done right. But sure, what happens to people without smartphones? Or who don't want an app like that? It's a definite problem, which is why demographics is so critical. – Jamezrp Feb 1 '17 at 0:55

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