Estimating the cost of unclaimed electronic prescriptions at an independent pharmacy

Electronic prescribing continues to expand across the health care system in the United States. A study was conducted in a Midwestern state independent pharmacy which estimated the cost of unclaimed electronic prescriptions towards the operational pharmacy practice. The study was organized in an area with a population of 6,000 over a six-month period. Researchers had to analyze the incurring costs to prepare, fill, and return the unclaimed prescription after 14 days In addition, the cost of personnel and contacting the patient were incorporated in the total expenditure.

The results showed that the unclaimed electronic prescriptions consisted of 0.44% of total prescriptions and 0.82% of the total electronic prescriptions. There were 147 unclaimed e-prescriptions and the cost ranged from 18.54 to 25.02 per unclaimed e-prescription depending on the cost of dispensing and staff.

I think that this study brought attention to the importance of medication adherence and obstacles the independent pharmacies face as they continue to operate on slim margins. Geographical location, patient population, and number of local competition factor into the success of the independent pharmacies. However, they do not have the capital of corporate community pharmacies to remain afloat from the decreasing reimbursement rates. Inflation of AWP contributes to the problem with single-source medications, drug manufacture mergers, and tighter regulations from FDA that increases the cost from inception to market. Areas with larger populations face potentially more unclaimed e-prescriptions leading to a greater cost without compensation.

Question: What can be done to curb this problem and maximize efficiency as electronic prescribing rises?

J Am Pharm Assoc. 2016;56(1):58-61.

1 thought on “Estimating the cost of unclaimed electronic prescriptions at an independent pharmacy”

  1. To directly answer your question, I think that the key to decreasing the number of prescriptions that need to be returned to stock and improving adherence in general is better a better communication system between the patient and the pharmacy. There should be a system that exists, especially one easily accessible to independent or rural pharmacies that may not have resources on their own, that notifies a patient when the pharmacy receives a prescription for them. Calling home phones that hardly anyone ever answers anymore should not be the main method of communication. Integrating cell phones and applications could be a great way to move pharmacy in a more modern direction, and it would help with cost for the pharmacy and health for the patient.

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