The landscape of medicine has changed over the years, as have patient-doctor relationships, and patient expectations. Medicine and healthcare have become increasingly commercialized, and the retailification of healthcare is abundantly clear and inevitable. For independent practices and larger hospitals alike, taking advantage of these facts without disrupting a physician’s responsibility and moral obligations towards their patients and their community is a difficult balance.
Doctors must remain impartial yet must keep the lights on in an increasingly aggressive and competitive environment. They must keep costs down yet contend with the fact that costs are rising everywhere. And they must address the needs and expectations of their patients, which include increased patient convenience and individualized care in an increasingly digital world.
There are no one-size-fits-all solutions for each of these problems. But there are many different changes practices might be able to adopt to help bring their clinic into the future, to the benefit of their reputation and the overall health and wellbeing of their patients. One of those changes may be utilizing in-office dispensing as an additional source of revenue, an alternative access point to crucial medication for patients, and a way to help meet patient expectations.
What is In-Office Doctor Dispensing?
In-office dispensing, or physician dispensing, describes the practice of providing medication at the point-of-care, rather than only providing a prescription. Most forms of medication dispensing are limited, based on state law, to samples or emergency usage. However, a growing number of states are relaxing the requirements on in-office dispensing, allowing more and more physicians to offer patients the alternative of purchasing medication from them rather than making an additional trip to the nearest pharmacy. This has a few distinct advantages. Let’s explore them.
Why Do Patient Expectations Matter?
Some physicians might wonder why it isn’t enough to do their medical duty toward the care and well-being of their patients.
Well, the truth is that a large part of that rests on the patient’s expectations of healthcare, including expectations of outcomes and procedures. The mind is a powerful thing, and patient satisfaction, like all other forms of satisfaction, depends entirely on the relationship between what patients expect and what they receive.
It’s not just about identifying problems and finding solutions in a strictly clinical sense – it’s about understanding their needs as a customer and recognizing that these feelings can actively play a role in medical outcomes, inform the success of certain procedures, and even significantly alter a patient’s treatment and wellbeing.
Yes, assessing your patient’s needs in much the same way a business might consider what the customer wants has a legitimate impact on their well-being, making it an important priority in healthcare.
But how do you assess a patient’s expectations? By asking them, of course. More and more practices and hospitals begin probing a patient’s understanding of their condition and treatment in an effort to establish what they know, and what they expect. Once you have a better grasp of what your patient thinks, you can begin to mold those expectations to match reasonable outcomes, which will improve your patient’s satisfaction – as well as help them hope for the best, especially if they fear the worst.
Patient expectations are often disease-specific. For example, patients presenting with lower back pain often have an expectation that a doctor will perform imaging tests on them. A patient’s specific expectations are also molded by previous outcomes. If they’ve experienced failed back surgery syndrome, they may be more wary of additional invasive procedures.
In-office prescriptions and medication dispensing give physicians ample opportunity to better understand their patient’s expectations and exceed them by providing a novel alternative to filling a prescription at a pharmacy. Furthermore, in-office dispensing can be mutually beneficial for patients and practices alike for the following reasons:
- Convenience for Patients
Convenience is a big one for all parties involved. While physicians and hospitals do need to prepare additional paperwork to manage, procure, and provide medication at the point-of-care while remaining entirely within legal bounds, they save themselves the trouble of communicating and coordinating with pharmacies to ensure that patients refill their prescriptions or check and double-check that certain medications are in stock.
Patients, on the other hand, save themselves the time and expense of an additional trip, which can often be a barrier to treatment. Patient convenience is an important metric, especially for independently practicing physicians or smaller clinics. Physicians have very few ways of controlling or improving patient convenience. Drug prices are often fixed by the market, and procedures can only cost so little before physicians risk offering treatment without being able to afford medical equipment loans and lease payments. An additional service – one that makes no effort to replace existing options, such as the pharmacy – offers patients a potential alternative without forcing them into anything.
- Increased Medication Adherence
Medication nonadherence is a growing problem in the United States – and conversely, medication adherence is something physicians and healthcare associations everywhere must aim to improve. While there are numerous different factors that contribute to medication nonadherence, in-office dispensing helps alleviate at least some of them.
In addition to offering greater patient education via a face-to-face dispensing process in the privacy and comfort of a doctor’s office, the additional convenience of being able to acquire a diagnosis and treatment with the same appointment in a single trip helps reduce non-adherence. Furthermore, physicians can be sure that their patients have the medication they need – and are more easily able to schedule follow-ups to check up on their patients.
Work With Us
The greatest challenge for physicians is implementing in-office dispensing effectively and safely. There are rules and regulations to beware of, as well as logistical problems, from drug storage to individualized pill labeling, proper pill counting, safekeeping, and data management. A one-shop-solution is welcomed – and something Proficient Rx can provide.
Our turnkey software solution makes ordering and managing your inventory of available medication easy, while our state-of-the-art drug repackaging facilities ensure that the medication you prepare for your patients remains maximally effective without bloating per-pill costs and while maintaining unit-of-use quantities for all orders for safety. This also helps minimize drug waste and improve patient safety.