What is medication dispensing? Medication dispensing — also called in-office dispensing or physician dispensing — is a system where healthcare providers supply patients with over-the-counter and prescription drugs directly instead of sending them to a separate pharmacy.
How medication dispensing works is doctors receive prepackaged medications from a dispensing company according to their preferred formulary and sizing, as well as any necessary supplies. Once the items are received, they can conveniently dispense meds in-office. In-office medication dispensing delivers numerous benefits for the patient and the dispensing physician. ShaLearn more about these advantages from Proficient Rx.
Enhanced Patient Care and Convenience
Medication adherence is a significant problem. Patients may not administer the medication as prescribed by the physician, not stop taking an initial drug when replaced with a new one, or fail to take the medicine at all.
Patients may have personal reasons for not wanting to take prescription medications, but sometimes it’s the lack of doctor oversight about what happens at the pharmacy. For example, wait times can be an inhibiting factor in patients following their medication regimens. According to a report from Statista, the maximum amount of time most patients are willing to wait at pharmacies is 8 to 10 minutes, with practically the same number of patients saying only 4 to 7 minutes.
Another aspect that impedes the patient’s experience with pharmacy services is access. Patients may struggle with mobility, lack access to transportation, live in areas with no pharmacy nearby, or simply find it inconvenient given their busy schedules. Additionally, not all drug stores have all medications readily available, meaning patients may need to wait longer to obtain much-needed medicine or make multiple trips to the pharmacy.
With in-office drug dispensing, patients can get medications instantly, bypassing the stress of waiting in lines at pharmacies. Physician dispensing can also supply them with certain types of medication more quickly than a typical drug store. Ultimately, it gets medication into the hands of patients quicker, which means they can start their treatment sooner and be on their way to better health.
Patient Education and Counseling
One of the main reasons for medication nonadherence is a lack of patient knowledge about their medications and how they help treat their condition. However, patients may be less inclined to ask questions at their community pharmacy.
For one, these environments are less private than a doctor’s appointment. Other people may be waiting in line to get prescriptions, which can discourage patients from asking questions about their medications they deem too personal to say in a public setting.
Additionally, patients generally don’t have the same relationship with pharmacists at drug stores that they do with doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and other professionals at the clinic. They might not feel as comfortable asking questions of the pharmacist who seems less involved in their care or aware of their conditions.
In-office prescription dispensing boosts patient counseling by housing care and pharmacy services in the same place. It allows patients to ask about drug therapies without apprehension, and doctors can more accurately explain why these medications will enhance their overall treatment plan. It also gives doctors more insight into their patients’ concerns about taking medications, which can help reduce nonadherence and ensure proper medication use.
Improved Patient Safety
With more patient education comes better medication safety. Doctors are more informed of their patients’ conditions, so more easily identify potential complications between the drug’s side effects and the patient’s symptoms. With an in-office pharmacy dispensing system, physicians can more easily modify medications as soon as adverse effects become a possibility and ensure patients are aware of these changes and adhere to the new drug or dosage.
Doctor dispensing proves advantageous in matters of public health, as well. For example, during the height of cold and flu season, sending patients to wait in lines at pharmacies can mean exposing them to more bacteria and viruses. For all the disinfecting a pharmacy might do to eliminate germs, it can’t compare with the safer option of receiving prescriptions directly from physicians.
Streamlined Workflow and Time Savings
The benefits of dispensing medications in-office extend to clinicians, as well. When prescriptions are filled at pharmacies, physicians may need to confirm the availability of certain medications and coordinate with pharmacists to find replacements for unavailable drugs.
Additionally, when patients have questions about their meds, they may be inclined to call the doctor’s office, but some questions are more appropriate for the pharmacy. Office staff can become intermediaries, calling pharmacies on the patient’s behalf. All these tasks can diminish productivity.
When pharmacy services are available on-site, providers can increase operational efficiency. It not only expedites the dispensing process but also gives physicians more supervision of their patient’s medication regimens. It can also help reduce medication errors, such as incorrect labeling and other discrepancies — issues doctors might not know about when they happen at pharmacies. With less time spent on the logistics of drug dispensing, providers can focus on their main goal of delivering the best possible care and improving the patient experience.
Increased Revenue Generation and Practice Sustainability
Dispensing prescriptions in-office also provides an opportunity to boost revenue. Depending on which repackaging company they choose, physicians may be able to purchase medications at a lower price, marking them up for a profit while still offering them at a comparable cost as a patient’s co-pay from insurance coverage. It can also enable providers to experience higher reimbursement rates, further driving revenue.
Customized Medication Solutions
In-office dispensing can also increase a doctor’s ability to meet a wide array of patient medication needs. Relying on external pharmacies means patients are limited to only what these stores can supply. When working with a repackaging company, physicians can secure prepackaged medication tailored to the specific requirements of their patients. This empowers more effective compounding and helps doctors to better address issues like allergies and intolerances with prescriptions.
Enhanced Patient Satisfaction and Loyalty
Since in-office dispensing supplements care services, it produces more patient satisfaction. Patients not only get the convenience of on-site dispensing but also gain more trust in their doctors to guide them through treatment. It allows providers to build stronger relationships with patients and their caregivers, showing their commitment to attentive and personalized care at each step during treatment.
In response to these benefits, patients are more likely to be loyal to the physician that offers in-office dispensing. In this way, hospitals and practices can leverage dispensing in marketing to help them stand out from the competition and potentially grow and retain their patient base.
Adherence Monitoring and Follow-Up Care
As mentioned, medication adherence is essential for ensuring patients experience the best results with their treatments. It’s especially important for those patients with chronic conditions who may have complex instructions for administration.
When prescription dispensing is out of the hands of the physician, they have to trust patients receive the correct information about their meds, including dosages, route of administration, and other special precautions like what activities or foods to avoid with the drug. In-office dispensing enables better medication management and allows doctors to more effectively monitor changes with new drugs during follow-up appointments to make necessary adjustments.
Other Considerations for In-Office Medication Dispensing
Given the various advantages of in-office dispensing, many healthcare professionals wish to implement it at their clinics. Before making the first steps, physicians should note that pharmacy services are different from other medical services. There are several aspects to keep in mind, including:
- Obtaining licensing and approval from state pharmacy boards to conduct in-office dispensing
- Maintaining compliance with applicable federal and state regulations regarding dispensed medications
- Devising safety protocols and quality control measures to account for the loss of intervention provided by retail pharmacies
- Integrating other resources, such as electronic medical records, into a medication dispensing system for enhanced operational efficiency
- Collaborating with pharmaceutical re-packagers like Proficient Rx
- Developing efficient inventory management practices or using software to track all inventory
- Handling insurance coverage and reimbursement
- Managing controlled substances
Choose Proficient Rx for Medication Dispensing
From primary care physicians to urgent care centers, any healthcare provider and their patients can benefit from in-office medication dispensing. For clinics new to the idea, it can be difficult to know where to begin, especially considering the licensing and regulatory components, as well as the additional responsibilities like inventory management and patient education. These practices need the service and guidance of a reputable medication dispensing company like Proficient Rx.
A national leader in the pharmaceutical repackaging industry, Proficient Rx delivers high-quality, FDA-approved prepackaged medication directly to practices and clinics in their requested quantities. We also provide dispensing software that allows providers to manage, order, and track medications.
When it’s time to dispense drugs, a physician can simply enter the patient’s information on the computer and select the desired medications. Our software keeps records of these prescriptions for monitoring inventories and guiding reordering.