The Benefits of Adding a Prescription Help Desk to Your Practice

According to multiple studies, medical practices spend an average of $30,000 annually on human resources managing pharmacy calls, faxes and pharmacy-initiated changes to patients’ formularies. To make matters worse, there is no return on investment (ROI) on that $30,000; it is simply a cost of doing business.

The time and money spent on calls and faxes back-and-forth with pharmacies is not just a
challenge for the physician owner, it’s an ongoing frustration for the practice providers, staff and patients. Providers and staff have multiple responsibilities, with the number one priority being the patients in front of them at that moment. For patients, like most people, time is scarce, so having to wait at the pharmacy while a formulary is adjusted due to a high co-pay or a lack of inventory of the prescribed medication is not well-received.

Lack of visibility to patients’ pharmacy benefits is the epicenter of this challenge and the direct cause of the resulting sunk costs to the practice. Most dermatologists do not realize that they can cost-effectively add a “prescription help desk” to their practice operations that is also revenue-generating. That $30,000 does not have to be a sunk cost; it can have an ROI.

The Problem: No Visibility to Pharmacy Benefits

Pharmacy benefits are a “black hole,” causing both the provider and patient frustration and costing everyone involved a lot of time. In addition, lack of visibility to pharmacy benefits can result in patients not beginning prescribed therapy, resulting in poor outcomes.

How often does a patient go to the pharmacyto pick up what his dermatologist prescribed, only to discover that the cost of the medication is too high, or the pharmacy is out-of-stock? The pharmacist can talk with the patient about medication options that are available in the pharmacy and/or have lower co-pays. The patient either leaves the pharmacy without his prescription, or the pharmacist calls the dermatologist’s office to adjust the formulary while the patient waits. The latter scenario costs everyone involved unnecessary time and frustration.

In addition, the patient questions why his provider prescribed such a costly medication. After all, the patient likely does not know that his dermatologist cannot see his pharmacy benefits; if the physician’s office has access to the patient’s medical insurance, a patient may assume that pharmacy benefits are also visible.

The Solution: Point-of-Care Dispensing

Easily integrated into the clinic’s operational workflow, the point-of-care dispensary becomes part of the patient checkout process so that he does not have to make a second stop at a retail pharmacy. The practice not only saves time and money but generates incremental revenue. How?

  • The provider sends the prescription to the point-of-care dispensary.
  • With visibility to pharmacy benefits, the on-site dispensing technician quickly determines the patient’s out-of-pocket costs.
  • If costs are high, the provider and dispensing technician immediately consult and make a formulary adjustment, while the patient is checking out.
  • Understanding the most prescribed medications, the point-of-care dispensary has stock on-hand.
  • The patient leaves the dermatologist’s office with the most clinically appropriate, cost-effective medication and begins treatment immediately.
  • The practice fills patient prescriptions in-house, generating incremental revenue for the practice and increasing patient satisfaction and therapy adherence simultaneously.

Point-of-Care Dispensing: Quantifiable Benefits

Patient surveys and analysis of practices that have implemented point-of-care dispensaries reveal the solution’s quantifiable benefits to three key challenges of running a practice:

  • Costs of running a practice: As previously shared, practices without a point-of-care dispensary spend an average of $30,000 annually on human resources managing pharmacy calls, faxes and pharmacy-initiated changes to patients’ formularies.
  • Therapy adherence: Compliance with drug therapy is 60% to 70% better when medications are delivered at the point-of-care versus when patients must go to another location to fill the prescription.
  • Patient satisfaction: 75% of patients would have their prescription filled in their doctor’s office instead of a pharmacy if given the choice.

All these challenges are overcome because the point-of-care dispensary becomes the dermatologist’s exclusive “prescription helpdesk.” With visibility to pharmacy benefits, time and money for all is saved and, most importantly, the health of both the patient and the practice is improved.

As published in Executive Decisions in Dermatology, a publication by the Association of Dermatology Administrators and Managers

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