dispensing-medication-300x200In our December 22, 20014, Medication Adherence-Why Patients Fail to Take Their Meds, we discuss the mystery of why patients don’t take their medications as directed.  In this article, we reference a study that says that about 50% of patients don’t take their medications correctly.  This is truly a problem.  However, there is another startling statistic, about 50% of prescription go UN-FILLED (Harvard and Brigham and Womens Hospital Study).  This abandonment rate is is amazing because medications play such an important role in helping patients get better.  In another twist, e-prescriptions were 65% more likely to be abandoned than hand written prescriptions.  The report goes on to say that first-fill prescriptions are three times more likely to go unfilled as refills.

Factors in these results include:

  • Co-pays – higher co-pays resulted in higher abandonment rates.
  • E-prescriptions – prescriptions that were sent electronically seemed to have higher abandonment rates because they do not require any extra steps from the patient.
  • Patient age – younger patients tended to abandon prescriptions more frequently than older patients.

These numbers highlight the important of the provider-patient relationship in ensuring medication adherence and the importance of making sure patients get their medications.  The reality is that proper medication adherence helps the patient get better faster, keeps the patient out of the hospital and improves overall patient outcomes.

This one of the reasons I’m so passionate about dispensing at the point-of-care!  If we are seeing 50% of prescriptions going unfilled, we can impact a large portion of unfilled prescriptions simply by giving the patient their medication during their office visit.  No, we can’t control how the patient takes the medication but making sure they have their prescription in hand when they leave the office is a great start.

Worksite Clinics Get-It

Over the last few years, we’ve seen major growth in the onsite/nearsite clinic market.  Employers are bringing healthcare home to their employees with easy to access, easy to use primary and acute care clinics.  These clinics not only help patients get better faster, they also provide wellness services to keep employees healthy in the first place.  From a medication dispensing perspective, we’ve seen savings of 50%-60% for medications kept in the clinic and great success in making sure patients are leaving with health-improving medications in hand.  Why does this work so well in worksite clinics?

  1. No co-pays.  The patient shows up, is diagnosed and treated by the physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant, and walks out of the office with his/her prescription medication.  VERY EASY.
  2. No extra steps. The patient is not required to drive somewhere else or take extra steps to get their prescription filled.  It is already filled, there is no wait and it is on or near their workplace.
  3. It must be important.  If my provider has the medication on hand for me at the time of my visit, it must be important that I take it.  Making the medication available at the point-of-care reinforces this message.  YOU NEED THIS!

The good news is that it’s not just worksite clinics.  All medical clinics and practices are in a unique position to impact abandonment rates by offering medication dispensing at the point-of-care.  No, this does not eliminate the need for pharmacies, but is a supplement to them.  A fully stocked clinic dispensary goes a long way toward getting the patient better faster.

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