Medical dispensing creates many benefits for both healthcare facilities and patients, but the term has changed throughout history to what we know today as medication dispensing.

Medical dispensing refers to the ancillary service of a physician prescribing and filling medication orders at the point of care. Meaning, physicians can give patients their prescriptions before they even leave the office.

Dispensing saves patients time and is a great convenience for not only the patient, but for you and your staff.

Medical dispensing is relatively a new process. While pharmacies have been around for centuries, physician dispensing is now gaining popularity and taking the place of pharmacies around the world.

Medical Dispensing Origins

The first pharmacy was established by King James 1 in the 17th Century. This set the tone for how pharmacists and medical professionals would operate from then on.

If a person needed to visit what was then called an apothecary, they would be greeted by a staff member and the medicinal expert at the apothecary would create a product to help heal the patient.

As time went on, the patient would visit a medical professional who would then recommend a treatment for the patient. Up until 1951, pharmacists prescribed medications, except narcotics, themselves.

But with the passing of the Durham-Humphrey Amendment to the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, pharmacists were required to have a prescription from a physician. After obtaining a prescription, the patient would consult a pharmacist to obtain the recommended medication.

Pharmacists, in the 1980’s, however, were tasked with educating and consulting the patient about their medication. This was set forth in the Medicare Prescription Drug Improvement and Modernization Act. This placed a very important part of the prescribing process on the pharmacist.

Unfortunately, not all pharmacists go the extra mile to ensure patients are educated.

To be completely sure patients receive the best treatment and education, many physicians are choosing to dispense medications at the point of care. This is what is considered modern medical dispensing.

Medical Dispensing Now

While some accounts date back to the mid-1200s, physician dispensing as we know it now was introduced in the early 1980s. This is when the Federal Drug Administration began allowing repackaging of medications.

Because of the extremely strict regulations repackaging companies must follow, the FDA approved the physician’s ability to prescribe, fill and profit from the distribution of pharmaceuticals in-office.

Repackaging makes your job easy. It also allows you to feel confident your patients’ medicines are protected from cross-contamination or any other errors that regularly take place within pharmacies.

Repackaging Regulations

Repackaged medication simply means a medication is taken from its original packaging that comes straight from the manufacturer, and placed into a smaller, safer and simpler type of packaging. Repackaged medications are often separated into individual doses, making it easy for the patient to keep on track with their medication schedule.

Repackaging steps include environmental testing, labeling, securing controlled substances, and keeping good records throughout the process.

Medicines must be tested at this point to ensure they are of the same quality as they were when created at the manufacturing facility.

Records must include the date of repackaging, prescription name, physician who will be dispensing the medicine, and drug name. The strength of the drug must be listed, as well as the quantity.  These steps must be verified and signed by an authority figure in the repackaging company.

Keeping good records is required. Repackaging companies must keep quality records for at least one year after the date of being repackaged. This process allows all medicines, including controlled substances, to be traced and identified when needed.

Introduction of Electronic Prescribing

When computers began gaining popularity and were made accessible for everyone, pharmacies and doctors were able to take advantage of computerized benefits also. Meaning, medications could be ordered and prescribed online.

This eliminated hand-writing every prescription, cut down on typographical errors and misunderstandings between pharmacists and doctors. Electronic prescribing also created the ability for doctors to prescribe directly to the patient, at the point of care.

General guidelines have been established to ensure patient safety and doctor protection. For instance, the patient’s name, address, date of birth must be printed on labels used with electronic prescriptions. The doctor’s contact information must also be made available on the label.

Furthermore, the label must include dosage and how to consume the dose, strength and preparation, if any.

In-office dispensing software can prevent errors with medicine.

The Process of Medical Dispensing

Today, physicians who dispense medications at the point of care meet with the patient to determine if medication is needed to help them resolve an issue. If they can benefit from medication, the physician can then simply enter the medical information into the dispensing software. The next step is to print the label, adhere the label to the medicine package and distribute to the patient.

Even filling refill prescriptions becomes much easier for you, and using the dispensing software, helps remind your patients when they are due for a refill.

It really is that simple. However, there are a few things you can do to ensure this entire process is consistently successful. You can regularly take part in safety checks with your staff. Provide trainings that keep you and your staff updated on changes to laws and regulations.

The World Health Organization defines good dispensing practices as the way you provide medicine to your patients. Using good practices, you give the right patient the correct medication. The medication is labeled correctly, with all accurate data, including clear instructions for the patient to follow.

Working with an in-office dispensing company is the best way for you to ensure you are compliant and running your practice properly. They do most of the work, allowing you to focus on caring for your patients.

Medical dispensing offers many benefits. One of the most important is that it gives you the ability to track compliance. You have measurable techniques at your finger tips to see whether patients are sticking to their treatment plan and therefore, reaching their treatment goals.

Improving patient health outcomes is the goal of physicians. With the arrival and progression of medical dispensing, that goal is more attainable.

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