Elizabeth Woodcock over at Physician Practice Pearls newsletter (from Physicians Practice magazine) has some tips for managing prescription needs. Here are some of hers, and some I’ve added:
1. Send patients back to the pharmacy directly if there is still an active prescription (refills already authorized). Now, if patients are pharmacy hopping, that can be a problem – but it should be their problem, not yours. Patients should be encouraged to use the same pharmacy for convenience as well as safety. If a pharmacy has all of a patient’s prescriptions, it can do a complete screen for interactions.
Here is a fact sheet that you can give to patients to help them keep track of all of their medictions, courtesy of the Ohio State University Extension: “Systems to Keep Track of Taking Medications“.
2. Use a Medication Record form that summarizes all active meds. Keep it in the front of the chart so it is easy to find, and make sure that all changes are recorded there. 3. Review all meds with your patients during their visits.
4. Ask if a refill is needed, and do it then.
5. When scheduling follow-up appointments, schedule them before the prescription runs out. For example, as Woodcock notes, if you want to see a patient in three months for a follow-up for a new med, make sure that the appointment is before the three months – and the new meds run out. If you decide to discontinue, the patient hasn’t wasted their money, and if you do continue, you can write the scrip on the spot and hand it to the patient. If the patient will then be switching to a mail order pharmacy, give the patient samples and fax in the new scrip (many mail order houses allow this).
6. If you have an electronic prescription system, use it,
7. If writing, write clearly – pharmacies make millions of phone calls every year because of bad hand writing or unclear directions.
8. Have a separate prescription refill number and selection on your phone, so calls can be taken by an answering machine if need be.
If any readers have ideas that have worked for them, let me know and I’ll write it up here (with or without your name).