In the United States, physicians have the right under their medical license to diagnose, prescribe, and dispense pharmacologic agents. Physician dispensing refers to this legal right of physicians to supply their own patients with medication directly at the point of care instead of having to write a prescription that gets filled at a pharmacy. However, there are several points to keep in mind before considering whether physician dispensing is right for you or your practice.
A recent post for First Coast Health Solutions, “Things To Know When Setting Up Physician Dispensing,“ details a few such points to consider to ensure a successful in-house pharmacy program. Of the benefits, the posting indicates:
- Convenience: Both patients and providers appreciate the ease of being able to complete an office visit from start to finish, including receipt of any indicated prescriptions. Those who are elderly or disabled find this option particularly helpful as it eliminates the need to stop at a pharmacy and also invites the opportunity for a more detailed discussion and understanding of the patient’s medication regimen needs.
- Profitability: Reports indicate an increase in clinic revenue of up to 15% when they choose to offer an in-office dispensing option to their patients.
The posting also describes several points to consider when deciding if physician dispensing is right for you, including:
- Physical space: Storing all the medications you plan to offer requires sufficient physical space, as well as the right security and environmental conditions.
- Patient flow: Are there enough patients to meet your revenue goals? If your practice has a high patient retention rate and the ability to handle dispensary patient flow without significant disruption to your current processes, then this may be a viable option.
- Staff involvement: Staff needs to fully understand the benefits of the program to be able to effectively communicate the option to patients. Trusted staff also need to be involved in setting up and maintaining in-office dispensing.
Each state’s guidelines vary in regard to the circumstances under which physicians are permitted to provide prescription medications to patients at the point of care. These guidelines are regulated by each state’s Board of Pharmacy, so if you feel that physician dispensing might be right for you and your practice, it’s important to review the specifics for your location.