(Today’s guest post comes from Patrick Bailey. Patrick writes in the field of mental health, addiction, and Recovery. If you have been contemplating adding dispensing services to your practice, you will find this helpful)
In recent years, many physicians have begun offering in-office dispensing services where they provide patients with their prescribed medication right at the office. This has emerged as an important source of revenue for many physicians in an era of declining insurance remittances. While practices obviously see increased revenue directly from the in-office dispensing service, there are also many auxiliary benefits that can indirectly increase revenue. For example, patients often report a higher level of satisfaction with their physician when they offer in-office dispensing services, which can indirectly increase revenue. To learn more about the many benefits of in-office dispensing, read on.
Improving the In-Office Experience For Patients
One of the biggest positive effects that physicians see in their practice when they begin in-office dispensing services is improved patient satisfaction. This improved patient satisfaction comes from the higher level of care that patients receive when their physician offers in-office dispensing. To put it simply, physicians end up giving each patient a higher level of personal attention when they offer in-office dispensing services. In a day and age where many patients are unhappy with the amount of time they get with their physicians, this can make a big difference in patient retention.
Increased Adherence to Treatment Plans
Another huge benefit that physicians can see from in-office dispensing is increased patient adherence to treatment plans. If patients are adhering to the treatment plan that their physician designed for them, they will see better outcomes, and they will be more likely to visit the practice again. Many patients who are prescribed medication will not actually go to the pharmacist and fill their prescription, which is why dispensing medication in-office can make such a big difference when it comes to treatment plan adherence and thus to patient outcomes.
Greater Convenience for Patients
Another benefit of in-office dispensing that will increase patient retention is the greater convenience of obtaining their prescription medication. No matter what the prescription is, it will be more convenient for the patient if they can get their medication right away in their physician’s office. However, this is a much more important benefit for patients who are on relatively uncommon medications. If they were unable to get their medication from their physician, they may have a hard time finding it at their regular pharmacy. These patients may even have to drive long distances to specialty pharmacies to get their medicine. For these patients, in-office dispensing can be a huge benefit.
Decreased Likelihood of Prescription Drug Abuse
Yet another benefit that has brought many physicians to the practice of in-office dispensing is a decreased likelihood of prescription drug abuse. As you no doubt already know, there is an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the United States right now. Things are especially bad when it comes to opioids. With in-office dispensing, physicians can keep a closer eye on the amount of medication that each of their patients are getting. Quite a few pain management doctors have begun offering in-office dispensing services for this very reason. This benefit may not directly impact a practice’s bottom line, but it is still an important reason for physicians to dispense medications themselves.
Direct Profits from the Dispensing Services
Some physicians may not want to admit this, but one of the primary reasons that more and more practices are beginning to offer in-office dispensing is to increase profits. It has become harder and harder for practices to turn a profit in this day and age, as remittances from insurers have declined. This is especially true for family medicine practices. Some physicians are turning to in-office dispensing in an attempt to turn a practice that is losing money into a profitable practice. The profits that physicians see from in-office dispensing can vary, but such profits can be significant.
Minimizing Waste Through Split Fills
One of the most underrated ways that practices can benefit from in-office dispensing is by minimizing waste through split-filling prescriptions. Many patients will stop taking medication if they have undesirable side effects or if they do not believe the medication is working. This could lead to a great deal of medication being wasted. For example, a patient that fills a 30-day prescription at a pharmacy and stops taking it halfway through will have wasted 15 days’ worth of medication. A physician that offers in-office dispensing can split fill medication based on the patient’s scheduled visits to their practice. If they are planning to see the patient in two weeks, they can prescribe them only two weeks’ worth of medication at a time. They can then confer with the patient about side effects and the effectiveness of the medication at their next visit.
More Accurate Health Records
One more benefit that physicians are seeing from offering in-office dispensing services is more accurate health records. As previously mentioned, many patients who get prescriptions do not actually end up filling these prescriptions. However, these prescriptions will be part of their health records because they were prescribed to the patient. With in-office dispensing, there is a record that the patient actually filled the prescription. When the patient actually takes the medication, the physician will be able to record the efficacy of the medication as well as any potential side effects. This could save both the physician and the patient a great deal of trouble in the future.
Starting In-Office Dispensing Services
Many physicians decide they want to start offering in-office dispensing services after researching this service or perhaps after hearing about it from other physicians. Offering in-office dispensing is a big change for a practice, and the professional managing the practice has to be sure that the practice is set up to make this change. The practice must establish a clear framework and process for the in-office dispensing service to ensure that it is implemented in the most efficient way possible. Also, the practice needs to acquire a large store of medication to dispense. Some practices are hiring services that specialize in setting up in-office dispensing operations.
Have you set up in-office medication dispensing? Was it easy? How is it going? What lessons did you learn that would be helpful to others who are about to start?