Physician Dispensing: Dispense medication at the point-of-care directly to your patients.
This saves your patients time and money while differentiating your practice and earning a significant revenue stream.
Several rulings by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have also upheld the right of physicians to dispense medicine. The FTC believes this maximizes a patient’s purchasing power as increased competition could lead to potentially lower cost of medicine. The Commission also believes that any restriction in physician dispensing is deemed as an illegal restraint of trade.
Until very recently, there was clear separation in the prescribing and dispensing of medicines. Doctors made the prescriptions as pharmacists took care of dispensing the medicines. Currently, all states allow physician dispensing with the exception of New York, New Jersey, Texas, Montana, Utah and Massachusetts.
Why should doctors consider physician dispensing in their practice?
The advantages and benefits should first be evaluated from the patients’ perspective as emphasized in the AMA Code of Ethics.
- Physician dispensing allows greater convenience on the part of the patient as this does away with their going to the pharmacy to make a purchase.
- Costs could be lower especially in the case of uninsured patients. Drug formularies as well as substitutions can be handled with greater ease leading to a reduction in the cost of medication.
- Compliance issues are taken care of as physician dispensing ensures that the patient gets the medication he or she needs. Studies point to compliance rates being recorded as 60 to 70 percent higher compared to pharmacy purchases.
- Lesser confidentiality issues as the patient can discuss matters in an office setting rather than in a retail drug outlet.
- Doctors have greater control in the care of the patient. Physician dispensing increases compliance rate of patients and eliminates writing and dispensing errors. This also leads to significant reduction in overall healthcare costs.
- The potential to turn pharmaceutical-related matters into revenue streams. It is estimated that each doctor spends up to one hour a day for pharmaceutical matters. This task, which is usually done to comply with requests from the pharmacy and the patient, eats up overhead costs and provides no revenue to the doctor.
- Physicians would appreciate the additional income provided by the system. It is estimated that a great majority of doctors have the potential to add more than $50,000 in annual income via physician dispensing. One estimate points to a potential earning between $5.50 and $6.50 for every dispensed prescription.
For doctors who are contemplating on setting up physician dispensing in their practice, there are now available several software packages that allow drug inventory management, prescription tracking, patient and invoice recording as well as drug interaction monitoring.
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