Point Of Care Dispensing – How It Can Benefit Your Practice

Written by on October 31, 2012 in Practice tips - No comments

There is a misconception in the United States that every physician is making too much money or that all physicians are rich. “M.D.” does not stand for “Many Dollars” unless you are speaking of the dollars it takes to operate a practice.  Just think of where the income from your practice is spent: employee salaries, employee benefits, office supplies, medical supplies, office equipment, maintenance, malpractice insurance, EMR, etc…And then there are the repayment of tuition loans. In order for most physicians to take home $100,000 per year, the practice likely needs to gross around 1 million dollars. Additionally, as expenses increase and reimbursements continue to decrease, the financial outlook does not look good.

With that in mind, many physicians are looking for ways to decrease business expenses and increase revenue. Physicians are outsourcing collections, joining a physician’s buying group or hiring a practice management consultant to combat this ever growing problem.  Physicians are also looking at ancillary services to improve profits.  One very simple ancillary service that physicians can take advantage of today is Point of Care (POC) Pharmaceutical Dispensing.

“But I am not a pharmacist”, you may think. That may be true, but you do not need to be a pharmacist.  Forty-three states allow physicians to dispense pharmaceuticals to their patients with few, if any, restrictions. The only states that restrict dispensing to such an extent that it becomes problematic are New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Texas, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.  Most other states specifically mention physician dispensing as an allowable practice in their regulations and laws.  Since it is legally allowable, it is highly probable that it will not result in an increase to your malpractice insurance.

So how can POC Dispensing help your practice? Let’s look at 2 ways – time and money – and they are closely linked. First of all think about your time. How much time per day do you or your staff spend on the phone with pharmacies? You probably get several calls per day to clarify prescriptions or get them changed. If you spend 1 hour per day on the phone instead of seeing patients you may be conservatively losing $100. That is over $25,000 per year.

How can POC Dispensing increase your revenue? Simply by filling the prescription utilizing pre-packaged medications instead of having your patient go to a pharmacy.  The average physician sees 100 patients per week. Most of those visits will result in writing at least 1 prescription. Presently, you do not make any money on that prescription. POC Dispensing may allow you to fill that prescription and make an average profit of $10 for each bottle dispensed. This could increase your income by over $50,000 per year. And it only takes a minute or two to dispense since the bottles are prepackaged and sealed, there is no pill counting. It works best with generic, acute-care meds such as antibiotics and pain control.

If you treat Worker’s Comp (WC) patients and your state recognizes physician dispensing, you can earn substantially more income from dispensing. If you practice Occupational Health or another modality such as Orthopedics, Pain Management or Neurology and you treat Worker’s Comp patients, you could be losing $100,000 or more per year.

Which practice types does this work especially well with? In addition to the Occupational Health and Orthopedic practices mentioned you can add Family Practice, Oral Surgery, Urgent Care and Podiatry. There is also a medical practice model that is gaining popularity which is based on membership. This Concierge model typically limits the number of patients and has them pay a monthly fee for physician services. Since these patients are normally uninsured, POC dispensing is a great fit.

As you see, Point of Care Dispensing can significantly improve your practice’s financial health.

How can it help the patient? It will be beneficial to your patients because it will assure compliance. Many paper prescriptions go unfilled simply because the patient does not feel that they have the time to wait for an hour or more at the pharmacy. Those patients that do wait may spend the entire time impulse shopping at a large retailer that has a pharmacy. Many of your patients would rather get the medication from you even if it means bypassing a $4 bottle cost. In the end, your patients will walk away happier and more compliant.

By Jeff Bugonian, CPht and Dispensing Consultant for MedX Sales

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