Frequently Asked Questions About Physician Dispensing

Physician dispensing, also known as in-office dispensing, is one of the most prevalent healthcare trends in the United States. Physician dispensing provides unmatched convenience to patients, allowing them to receive their prescription drugs directly from providers, thereby eliminating the need to go to their local pharmacy. Not only does it offer convenience and improved outcomes for patients, but it also provides an additional revenue stream for the practice itself. If you're considering offering in-house medication dispensing within your practice or clinic in the United States, you likely have questions. In this article, you'll find the answers to the most common questions that we receive from our dispensing clients.

What do I need to get started dispensing?

This will vary by state, but in general, you will need a state license, DEA registration, appropriate storage facilities, patient education materials, and a reliable software system for tracking inventory and prescriptions. Before you begin dispensing, you will need to check the dispensing requirements for your state, including obtaining the necessary licensing from your state's board of pharmacy. It is important to note that following federal laws and DEA regulations is crucial in physician dispensing, as failure to do so can result in severe penalties and potential action against your medical license. You can learn more by reviewing our article on state-specific dispensing regulations.

How long does it take to begin dispensing?

Starting physician dispensing typically takes 2-4 weeks. This includes setup, training, obtaining necessary approvals and receiving medication inventory. Factors like state regulations and drug shipping times can affect the timeline.

How much does it cost to begin dispensing?

To begin dispensing, costs typically include software fees, medication inventory expenses, and any regulatory compliance costs. The initial investment will vary based on the size of your clinic and which medications you plan to dispense on a regular basis. Monthly expenses for medication purchases and any software maintenance should also be considered.

Can All Types of Medications Be Dispensed by Physicians?

Physicians can dispense a wide range of medications, including non-controlled and controlled substances, as long as they are within their scope of practice and comply with state regulations. Special permissions may be required for certain medications. Be sure to review the dispensing regulations for your specific state to learn more.

How Do I Ensure Medication Safety and Regulatory Compliance When Dispensing In-Office?

To ensure medication safety and regulatory compliance when dispensing in-office, it is important to follow strict protocols and dispensing rules for storage, handling, and documentation. These rules should align with FDA regulations such as DSCSA and those pertaining to labeling, sourcing medications, and maintaining the integrity of products. Regularly reviewing and updating compliance measures is crucial to meet any changes in legal requirements. It is also important to train staff on safety procedures and conduct regular audits to ensure adherence to regulations. One way to streamline this process is by using a trusted physician dispensing application like MDScripts..

How do I store medications in my office or clinic?

Storing medications in your office or clinic requires careful attention to detail to ensure both medication efficacy and patient safety. Proper temperature control is essential to prevent any degradation of the medications, so it's crucial to store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Secure storage areas should be designated for medications to prevent unauthorized access and potential tampering.
Regular inventory checks should be conducted to monitor stock levels, identify any expired medications, and reorder as necessary to maintain a sufficient supply. Many times this can be completed by a trained and trusted staff member.

What are the best practices for inventory control for dispensing physicians?

Implementing regular audits, utilizing electronic tracking systems, setting par levels, and conducting thorough checks for expired medications are key inventory control practices for dispensing physicians. Efficient management helps maintain accurate stock levels and ensures patient safety.
In addition to these practices, it is essential for dispensing physicians to establish clear protocols for ordering and restocking medications. This includes monitoring medication usage patterns, forecasting demand based on patient volumes, and establishing relationships with reliable suppliers to ensure timely deliveries. Automating reorder points and submitting electronic orders to suppliers can often be accomplished within your inventory control and dispensing software such as MDScripts.

What Are the monthly Costs Associated with In-Office Medication Dispensing?

For a successful in-office medication dispensing operation, it's important to factor in monthly expenses such as software fees, medication costs, packaging supplies, and staff training. These expenses may fluctuate depending on the volume of medications dispensed and any extra services offered.

What Is the Difference Between Physician Dispensing and Traditional Pharmacy?

Physician dispensing allows doctors to provide medications directly to patients, offering convenience and immediate access. In contrast, traditional pharmacies dispense medications based on prescriptions from healthcare providers, focusing on a wider range of products. This distinction impacts patient experience and treatment speed, making physician dispensing a valuable option for improving patient access to medications. To learn more about the difference between physician dispensing and the traditional pharmacy model, you can read this article.

How Does Physician Dispensing Affect Pharmacy Relationships?

Physician dispensing has the potential to create tension in traditional pharmacy relationships, as pharmacists may perceive it as competition. However, it also presents opportunities for collaboration that can enhance patient care coordination. By fostering mutual understanding and establishing clear communication channels between physicians and pharmacists, the focus can be shifted towards improving patient outcomes and achieving shared goals. This emphasis on teamwork and cooperation can help alleviate any strains on the relationship and lead to a more integrated approach to healthcare delivery. Additionally, leveraging technology and data sharing platforms can further streamline communication and ensure that both parties are working towards the common objective of providing optimal care for patients.

How Can I Train My Staff for Dispensing Medications?

Training staff for medication dispensing involves educating them on drug safety, dosage calculations, regulatory compliance, and proper handling procedures. Utilize training modules, hands-on practice sessions, and regular assessments to ensure competence. Ongoing education keeps staff updated on new medications and guidelines.

How long does it take to train staff on how to dispense medications?

Training staff on medication dispensing typically takes a few hours and can vary based on staff experience and complexity of medications and dispensing systems being used. When evaluating a dispensing and inventory control system you should look for ease of use and time it takes to complete the dispensing process.

What Are the Common Challenges for In-Office Medication Dispensing?

Challenges for in-office medication dispensing include managing inventory and medication selection, ensuring regulatory compliance, staff training, and maintaining patient safety. Additionally, dealing with insurance reimbursement and handling expired medications can pose hurdles. Prioritizing these aspects is crucial for successful physician dispensing practices. For additional tips on how to be successful dispensing in your practice or clinic, you can read this article with 10 Essential Tips for Physician Dispensing Success.

How Can Medication Dispensing Increase My Practice or Clinic Revenue?

By offering medication dispensing services, your practice can generate additional revenue streams through increased patient convenience and in-house sales. Dispensing commonly prescribed medications can boost patient retention and satisfaction, translating into a significant revenue boost for your clinic.
Moreover, providing medication dispensing services allows you to have better control over the quality and availability of medications for your patients. This can lead to improved health outcomes as patients are more likely to adhere to their prescribed treatment plans when they can conveniently obtain medications directly from your clinic.
Additionally, offering medication dispensing services can set your practice apart from competitors and enhance your overall patient experience. Patients value convenience and being able to receive their medications during their visit eliminates the need for separate trips to a pharmacy, saving them time and effort.
As you can see, physician dispensing offers healthcare providers a valuable opportunity to enhance patient care and practice revenue. By navigating legal requirements, ensuring medication safety, and establishing efficient inventory control, doctors can seamlessly integrate in-office medication dispensing. While challenges may arise, proper training and adherence to regulations mitigate risks. Ultimately, the convenience of immediate access to medications for patients, coupled with the potential financial benefits for the clinic, underscores the significance of physician dispensing in modern healthcare practices.
If you're ready to add in-house medication dispensing to your practice or clinic, reach out to our dedicated customer support team today!