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Why It’s Time to Offer Online Refills

Why It's Time to Offer Online Refills by Elements magazine | pbahealth.com


July 10, 2013


As a businessperson and a pharmacist, you know all too well that unfilled prescriptions and impatient patients waiting on their refills can be a headache you’d rather avoid.

Patients have a few options to refill their prescriptions. They can come into the pharmacy or call for a refill. To streamline the refill process, many independent community pharmacies offer automated prescription refills via phone, so clerks or pharmacy techs don’t have to spend extra time taking calls. And, patients can just refill their prescriptions by pushing a few buttons on their keypad.

Now, they can do it with a few clicks of their computer mouse. As patients today become more technologically savvy, you have another refill option to consider—online refills through your pharmacy’s website. Whether you already have a website for your pharmacy or are in the process of creating a website, offering the option for patients to refill their prescriptions online is an increasingly important element to consider including. Here are a few more reasons why it’s time to provide patients with the option of online refills.

Convenience for patients

A web-based refill service adds convenience for patients with 24/7 availability. They can refill their prescriptions at 2 a.m., 2 p.m., whenever. By just entering a few pieces of information, such as name, birthday, prescription number and contact information, your patients can quickly refill their prescriptions from their home computer, laptop, smartphone or tablet.

Some online refill services even allow patients to create an account, so all they need to do is enter their username and password each time they want to refill their prescriptions. These accounts can even store patients’ prescription records, making it easy for patients to manage their prescriptions online or to print off records to show to their doctors. Many online refill solutions even allow you to set up text message or email refill reminders for registered patients.

Besides making your patients’ lives easier, online refills can also streamline operations at your pharmacy. Fewer phone calls and online refills that go straight to your pharmacy’s computer system will help your pharmacists and technicians stay organized and it will free up time.

Better adherence rates

Online refills can also benefit your patients health-wise. Every year, more studies are released with data proving that medication adherence is a major driver to keep health-related costs down and to improve patients’ health. As it turns out, offering online refills is a simple and convenient method to encourage patients to adhere to their medication regimens.

A 2012 study published in the American Journal of Managed Care calculated adherence by measuring the proportion of days covered and found that “patients who have utilized an online account have significantly greater medication adherence across 7 out of 8 therapeutic groups studied, as well as overall, compared with non-users.”

The same study also found that “the users group had a higher proportion of patients achieving the 80% adherence mark, which can be crucial for chronic illness management.” When patients have the ability to stay involved with their medication management and to do it at convenient times for them, their adherence rates and correspondingly, their health, improve.

Good for business

Online refills aren’t just helpful for your patients, this service is also beneficial to your business. Patients are beginning to expect this kind of technology from their local pharmacy—you can bet national chains and big box stores already have it in place.

Check with your pharmacy’s software vendor to find out the options for you. Many pharmacy software companies today offer turnkey online refill solutions that are compatible with your current system. Better yet, some even have options for smartphone apps, too. The American population is modernizing—and fast. Independent community pharmacies that want to stay ahead are smart to embrace this new technology.

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