Direct dispensing describes the process by which a physician or healthcare clinic prescribes and fulfills prescription medication directly to their patients, rather than simply writing a prescription to be fulfilled at a nearby pharmacy. This avoids the steps of sending a patient to the pharmacy, instead directly providing the medicine in-office.
Research has shown that medication adherence can be improved through educational intervention at pharmacies, but only if kept up consistently. In-office direct dispensing provides doctors with an opportunity to educate their patients themselves, and this practice has been steadily on the rise. With medication non-adherence leading to approximately 125,000 deaths a year, it’s critical to find effective solutions.
#1 – Direct Dispensing Saves Time
Your patients are busy. Many take personal time from work to see you. Others must schedule rides because they are unable to drive themselves. Most medical professionals are aware that it is difficult to convince many patients to regularly schedule their needed appointments and any follow-up visits.
Even if the pharmacy is located right down the street from your office or in the same building, time is still a factor. Most major pharmacies take an hour to fill a prescription. Some patients do not have the time – others do but are likely frustrated by this process, especially when they are ill.
Even when not ill, it is an inconvenience that some might deem unnecessary – to the point that they might even skip taking their medication altogether. Physicians are already aware that there are enough obstacles on the path to proper medication adherence – why add more? By removing inconvenience, you are helping patients better adhere to their treatment.
#2 – Direct Dispensing Allows for Follow Through
You cannot force your patients to be compliant, but eliminating inconveniences can make it easier for them to adhere to their medication regimen. As previously noted, in-office dispensing system eliminates the excuse of not being able to get to the pharmacy.
Additionally, it also allows you to check their records to see if they are keeping up with refills. If they have never called in for a refill, they are most likely not continuing to take their medication. This gives you a chance to contact the patient before their next appointment to find out why.
By providing in-office prescriptions and status checkup calls, you are encouraging patients to follow through.
#3 – Direct Dispensing Minimizes Errors
It is estimated that one to five percent of prescriptions are fulfilled with an error. As workloads increase, pharmacies today can be overwhelmed with orders, and that kind of pressure contributes to mistakes.
While they are still rare, these mistakes can do major damage to a patient’s health, and even cost lives. By doing the work yourself, you are in control of factors that were previously uncontrollable, further minimizing errors and saving more lives.
#4 – Direct Dispensing Helps Educate Patients
When your patients go to the pharmacy to fill a prescription, a store clerk hands them their medicine and asks loudly if they need to see a pharmacist to answer any questions they have. Your patient looks at the pharmacist in the back of the room who is obviously behind schedule and shakes their head no. Or perhaps, they simply are not comfortable speaking to a pharmacist behind the counter, while waiting in line, during a busy day.
More often than not, patients simply refuse consultation – even when they need it. They are given a stack of papers to read through and sent on their way. Many patients do not understand what their medication does, or why they really need it. Most critically, however, they might not understand when to take their medication, or what other substances and medicines to avoid. This can lead to life-threatening situations avoided by a very simple and rudimentary consultation.
At other times, patients simply cannot afford their medication. Through in-office direct dispensing, you can better care for your patients by helping them navigate the healthcare system and get the care they need.
If you offer in-office direct dispensing of medicines to your patients, you have the perfect opportunity to provide them with worthwhile information regarding the medicine they are about to take. They can find out if the medicine you prescribed interacts with other medications. They can also be taught when to take their medicine, how to take it and for how long.
#5 – Direct Dispensing Ensures Confidentiality
Waiting in line to hear your name called at a pharmacy can be anxiety-inducing. And if it is over the intercom, it can be quite embarrassing. People do not really want other customers to know who they are. It’s likely that they’re already annoyed, tired, and ill.
In-office dispensing systems make confidentiality a priority, in conjunction with convenience. As a physician, you are already following privacy guidelines strictly. Adding a service such as this is simply an extension of those guidelines, helping your patients ensure that their conditions and care are entirely confidential.
There will not be a lengthy line of people waiting behind or in front of your patients. There will never be any privacy violations, accidental or not. Your interactions are protected and kept private, and your patients can feel at ease knowing their healthcare is not at danger of being overheard.
A Final Thought on Direct Dispensing
The best way to truly take note of the benefits of direct dispensing is by going through the process of buying prescription medication, step by step. Notice how often patients try to cut corners or avoid what they deem an unnecessary hassle.
Take note of how pharmacies provide information to their customers about the drugs they are taking. Once you learn what your patients experience at the pharmacy, you can be more confident in your decision to provide in-office medicine dispensing.
Proficient Rx is the nation’s leader in facilitating direct dispensing between physicians and their patients. We work with our physicians to streamline the process of prescribing medication, helping them ensure that their patients are getting the exact medication and dosages they need.
With our easy-to-use dispensing software, doctors can keep track of their in-office dispensing and take advantage of the freedoms afforded through planned, controlled, and efficient direct dispensing.