Physician Dispensing – Not for everyone

I was recently asked: What type of medical practice is best suited to medication dispensing?  It is a very interesting question because the tendency is to believe that doctors who prescribe a high volume of medications are the best suited for pharmaceutical dispensing. In reality, the answer is not practice-oriented at all. Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly factors that make some practices better candidates for clinic dispensing – narrowly focused formularies, high patient volumes, generics-oriented prescriptions – however, I think the best answer is more basic than practice type.

In years of working with physicians who have enhanced their practices by offering in-office medication dispensing, I have found some commone threads among the doctors who I would classify as successful dispensers of medications:

  • The physician must feel that the act of dispensing medications provides great value to his/her patients.  If they don’t believe in it, then it won’t work.
  • The physician sees himself/herself as a physician AND a small business owner.  Medication dispensing works best when the physician is truly motivated to grow the practice and extend additional services to patients.
  • The physician must be comfortable offering dispensing services to patients.  If the physician does not promote the clinic’s dispensary, patients will not ask for it.
  • The successful dispensing physician generally offers other valued-added services to patients that extend beyond the traditional medical clinic.  Onsite lab services, medically-related products, alternative medicine services and weight management services are a just a few offerings that are complementary to dispensing services.

Ultimately, the ideal profile for a dispensing practice is not so much the type of practice but the personality behind the practice.  Physicians who are comfortable promoting their dispensing services and expect dispensing to supplement their practice revenue will derive the greatest value from offering the medications to patients.
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