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In-Office Prescription Dispensing: Key Questions

Jul 14, 2019

In-office prescription dispensing is growing in popularity across the United States. In 2019, only a handful of states still ban the practice, and one of these, Texas, is currently considering allowing physician prescription dispensing.

Still, many doctors and medical practitioners have questions about the dispensing medication procedure, since this isn’t a subject commonly covered during their training or continuing professional development. This article aims to answer to some of the most frequently asked questions.

How to Dispense a Prescription

Many doctors and administrators are concerned that the process to dispense prescription drugs is complex or expensive, or that they will have to invest in prescription dispensing machines or expensive software. This is not the case. In fact, suppliers and partners like DocRx can get a clinic or doctor’s office set up very quickly, usually within days, and usually without any additional purchases. In most cases, the office printer that you currently use will suffice.

Is In-Office Dispensing Time-Consuming?

The prescription filling process does not need to be time-consuming. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that the average doctor has approximately 25 patient appointments per day, each of which averages 1.4 prescriptions written per visit. Even with a robust medication dispensing program, many prescriptions will still be filled at the pharmacy, because you will not be able to efficiently carry every drug that your patients need, and some patients will also prefer to have their prescriptions filled by a pharmacist for cost or insurance reasons. The remaining prescriptions can be dismissed in a few minutes per day. While regulations around who can dispense medication vary by state, in many states, physicians’ assistants, nurses, and other medical practitioners can be the ones actually dispensing prescriptions once they are written. With a minimal amount of training amounting to a few hours, your staff should be familiar with the dispensing process steps.

Can Doctors Claim Prescription Dispensing Fees?

In most cases, yes, although it should be pointed out that these only provide one component of the financial benefit from direct doctor dispensing. Other benefits come from the difference between wholesale and retail cost of the drugs and increased patient satisfaction and referrals from offering this convenient service. Taken together, these will generally significantly outweigh the average cost of dispensing a prescription.

Who Sets Regulations for Filling Prescriptions In-Office?

Your State Board of Pharmacy is the ultimate source of rules and regulations around point of care dispensing. Please Contact Us for more information – we can help you navigate these regulations quickly and effectively and get set up in no time.

Is there a Pharmacist Right to Refuse to Dispense Prescriptions?

This depends on the state as well. In some states, pharmacists (or in-office pharmacies) do explicitly have this right, while in others the opposite is the case. Please Contact Us or your local State Board of Pharmacy.

What are Patient Benefits to Physician Dispensing?

The biggest benefit to patient comes in the form of improved primary medication adherence. Approximately 20-30% of prescriptions are never filled. By putting the drugs in the patients’ hands, you eliminate this problem entirely.

Further benefits come in the form of improved patient convenience. Using in-office prescription dispensing allows patients to get the drugs they need in a “one stop shop” and avoid traveling to the pharmacy. This is especially important for patients who are older, very sick, have mental health challenges, have reduced mobility, or for whom time is at a premium (e.g. single mothers). It is also especially important for patients who might not live or work near a pharmacy.

Avoiding the extra trip to the pharmacy also avoids introducing possible prescription errors or the risk that the wrong prescription will be dispensed through miscommunication with the pharmacist.

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