A Patient’s Thoughts on Clinic Dispensing

There is nothing like firsthand experience when it comes to the products and services we provide to our customers.  About a week ago, I had the unfortunate honor of utilizing highly convenient urgent care services.  A playful romp with one of my dogs left me with a fairly nasty cut in my hand and prompted me to visit my neighborhood urgent care.  After much poking and prodding, a couple of shots and an x-ray, I was deemed well-enough to return to the normalcy of my life.  As fate would have it, we reached this conclusion at nearly Midnight.  One result of my visit was a prescription for an antibiotic.  Finally, after a few hours of healthcare, I was ready to leave with script in hand.  Being a purveyor of clinic dispensing services, I asked if I could simply purchase my medication at the clinic. "No, we don't dispense medications." 

Seriously?  I was completely drained.  It was midnight.  All I wanted was to retire peacefully to the comfort and safety of my bed as quickly as humanly possible.  Fortunately, there was a 24-hour pharmacy nearby.  Did I go?  Nope.  That pharmacy was not in my health plan and I was not going to take any amount of time to drive to it and wait for my prescription to be filled.  The result was that I waited for another 10 hours and made an additional trip in the morning to get my antibiotic.

Overall, I was very fortunate to have access to an urgent care at the time I needed it.  For that, I am very thankful.  A trip to the ER would have been far more expensive and even more time-consuming.  However, complete service would have entailed the closing of my experience with my dispensed medication in-hand as I left the the health center.  I would have been happy to pay MORE THAN MY COPAY to have left the clinic with my medicine.  This antibiotic would have been a $15-$20 item; no-brainer from my perspective.

There is a lesson here for all of us.  What did the urgent care lose?  A little bit of profit from my drug purchase?  Sure.  However, the bigger loss was my complete satisfaction.  We all have choices.  Given similar circumstances in the future, will I chose this particular urgent care?  Maybe.  In the larger scheme, offering medication dispensing services is a small part of a clinic's potential overall value proposition.  As you consider how you position, what your competitor's offer and what you want your patients to feel as they leave your health center, I encourage you to think of the small things realizing that pharmaceutical dispensing might be that one little detail that makes a big difference.

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