For many people, visiting a doctor’s office and then having to travel to a pharmacy to have a prescription filled is a hassle. Things would be easier if the doctor could just fill the prescription at the office, saving the patient time and the doctor’s office the inconvenience of numerous pharmacy calls verifying prescription and insurance information.
"There are tremendous benefits for both physicians and patients who take advantage of in-office dispensing," said AADP CEO Gary Brown. "For the patient, it is much more convenient to pick up a prescription at the time of the doctor’s visit. And there are fewer confidentiality issues, since they can discuss their concerns with their practitioner while in the office, instead of in a public setting like a retail drug store.
"It also helps both the patient and the physician with compliance issues, because people who receive prescriptions for medications don’t always get them filled," he added. "Filling the prescription in the office ensures that patients are receiving the medications they need."
Having a prescription filled in-office also eliminates doctors’ handwriting issues, which can result in pharmacists dispensing the wrong medications when they can’t read a doctor’s writing.
Physicians benefit from in-office dispensing as well. "Physicians are inundated with pharmacy requests to change medications based on a payor’s willingness to pay for certain medications,"
According to Philip R. Oranburg, M.D., a participating member of AADP, the ability to dispense medications from the office is a win-win situation for doctors and patients.
"My patients really appreciate the convenience of not having to go to the drugstore after visiting the office," said Dr. Oranburg, who began dispensing prescriptions six months ago. "I also like the fact that in-office dispensing enhances my relationship with my patients by giving me greater control over this facet of their care."
Doctors also appreciate the additional revenue stream this system affords. "For years, physicians were not compensated for all of the phone calls, refill requests, and management issues that come from writing prescriptions,"
In order to help physicians take advantage of in-office dispensing, the AADP provides a turnkey system that includes medical storage cabinets and placement of the system, as well as the help of a staff member with a pharmaceutical background to develop the formulary. "Practitioners decide what medications to dispense, based on what they typically prescribe for their patients," said Brown.
Depending on the size of the practice, setting up the dispensing operation requires an approximately $10,000 investment, with renewal fees costing significantly less each year. In Florida, practitioners also need to add a dispensing practitioner’
In addition to setting up the system, AADP also enrolls all third-party payors, and coordinates compliance issues, all state and federal regulations, and technical training of the office staff. "Physician dispensing has always been a good concept, but it was such a quagmire that no one could do it," said Dr. Oranburg of why physicians should consider using AADP. "This is the first time to my knowledge that someone has developed a system that is user-friendly, and also offers on-going support for practitioners.
"As a board member of AADP, I’ve been privy to what it takes to make such a system work efficiently,"
As more physicians become aware of the advantages of dispensing in-office, Brown expects this field to continue to grow. "I’d like to see physician dispensing in all of the states that don’t have limitations, and I’d like to see those states with limitations repeal or change those laws," said Brown. Utah is the only state that does not permit physician dispensing, with limitations on the practice in seven other states.
"There is such a benefit to patients and physicians,"
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