5 Tips, Tools to Simplify Prescription Refill Workflows

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Editor’s Note: This article is based on a webinar titled “Automated Medication Compliance Tools for the Provider and Patient,” presented by Melissa Welch, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer, and Jo Laucirica, PMP, Customer Success Operations Lead, both of Health Catalyst.

Healthcare provider burnout, a consequence of a system strained by inefficiencies and administrative redundancies, persists despite attempts to address it. A Medscape 2022 survey indicates that 60 percent of physicians attribute their burnout to these administrative inefficiencies. Moreover, Institute for Healthcare Improvement research reveals that 40 percent of clinical work is considered either redundant or a “wasted effort.”

Manual procedures for medication management, which involve reviewing patient charts for renewal prescription information, are a prime example of such inefficiencies. These processes cause patients to wait longer for prescriptions, sometimes up to three times longer. They also lead to an increase in duplicate refill requests and create additional administrative tasks for providers. 

Technology can help identify Rx renewals, standardize protocols, retrieve patient data, and reduce redundancy. However, developing and maintaining medication protocols from scratch using off-the-shelf tools is expensive and time-consuming. This puts a strain on information technology staff and stops many organizations from automating these processes. 

A proven solution involves customizable technology tools to improve workflow efficiencies, reduce provider burnout, and promote top-of-licensure work while reducing patient prescription refill turnaround times.

Embedding Efficiencies in Prescription Refill Requests

An automated tool called Embedded Refills™ helps with prescription renewal by applying standard protocols and filling in important patient information. Embedded Refills utilizes an approved set of evidence-based protocol requirements at the time of a refill request. It analyzes patient charts and identifies compliance and non-compliance with the protocols, bringing the latter to the medical staff’s attention.

Protocols can allow non-physician staff to process common medication refills, reducing the need for time-consuming chart reviews. Also, by delegating tasks, providers can work at the top of their licensure. The tool also promotes consensus on clinical rules and workflow customization.

Enhanced Automated Messages to Streamline Patient Outreach

Twistle Patient Engagement by Health Catalyst™ software is a two-way secure messaging technology that integrates with Embedded Refills to promote medication adherence, identify care gaps, and streamline prescription refill workflows. Health systems use the tool to automate communications between providers and patients.

For instance, when a standardized protocol specifies that a patient is due for a lab test or routine doctor’s visit, the application sends a “Care Due” message via mobile technology, alerting medical staff and the patient, prompting patients to schedule an appointment. Automated patient outreach promotes medication adherence and reduces patient refill turnaround times, improving the patient experience.

Improving Clinical Quality and Efficiencies with Automated Technology

Health systems incorporating these technologies have yielded significant results. For example, after implementing Embedded Refills technology, Martin’s Point Health Care reduced duplicate requests from pharmacies by 3.5 percent, found over 10,000 possible medical errors, and saved an average of 47 staff hours per month.

In addition, Credena Health experienced a 57 percent decrease in delivery arrangement time and a 4.4 percent increase in medication adherence after implementing the same technologies.

Extended Benefits of Automated Medication Compliance

It’s not just about shaving minutes off tasks, experts say. Automating medication adherence protocols can have several benefits. It can reduce provider and staff burnout, bolster treatment initiation and adherence, and reduce the number of renewal requests requiring provider review.

As a result, healthcare professionals can rely on established prescription refill protocols and work at the top of their licensure, experiencing significantly streamlined workflows and freeing time for providers to focus on hands-on patient care. Indeed, deploying patient care management strategies such as this can enhance workflow efficiency, diminish staff burnout, and elevate patient care, benefiting providers, patients, and the healthcare system.

5 Strategies for Using Prescription Refill Solutions to Improve Outcomes Measures

Melissa Welch, MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer at Health Catalyst, highlights five pivotal strategies to unlock the full potential of automated prescription refill technologies:

  1. EMR Integration: Seamlessly incorporate technology into the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system to ensure smooth data flow and accessibility.
  2. Agile Deployment: Begin with a small-scale launch, gather feedback, and make necessary refinements for a streamlined process.
  3. Engagement Amplification: Use automated reminders to consistently keep providers and patients in the loop, reinforcing participation.
  4. Data-Driven Decision-making: Leverage data analytics to measure outcomes, identify areas for improvement, and make evidence-based decisions.
  5. Continuous Improvement: Regularly review and refine practices to prioritize provider and patient satisfaction, ensuring the technology remains relevant and beneficial.

Additional Reading

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