9 Ancillary Services That Can Boost Practice Revenue

Leigh Page

Disclosures

August 07, 2014

In This Article

5. Dispensing Medications From Your Office

Because PCPs write a lot of scripts, Aburmishan said selling prescription medications out of your office has great revenue potential. She adds that this is a great convenience for your patients, because the prescription is filled in the doctor's office. Moreover, patients are more likely to be compliant, since they walk out of the practice with the prescription already in hand.

Here's how in-house dispensing works: A vendor provides the practice with prepackaged prescriptions with set amounts of the medication. The vendor also credentials the practice with key insurers, which is essential to getting paid, and provides software to process the payment and oversee inventory.

Because the drugs are prepackaged, having a pharmacist on site is not necessary. When the physician writes a prescription, someone on staff selects the right packet, prints out a label, and hands the packet to the patient at the end of the office visit. You'll need a separate printer and a barcode scanner to process the packets and a locked cabinet for storing them. Controlled substances have to be double-locked: that is, placed in a locked box inside a locked cabinet. Your security for the other medications is the same as for the drug samples your keep in your office.

Warren Moseley, President of Physicians Total Care (PTC), an in-house dispensing company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said his clients earn an average of $4-$5 per prescription. He said one physician can earn more than $40,000 a year if he or she makes sure to dispense as many drugs as possible in-house.

Virtually all the drugs you prescribe can be put on the in-house dispensing list, Moseley said. Whereas some vendors advise practices to focus on the 15-20 most prescribed drugs, he thinks practices should include as many as possible. "You have to use the service to make it pay off," he said. "Our best customers are the solo practices. Those doctors make sure they do all their scripts this way, because it's their business."

Moseley said start-up costs for a solo practice are less than $10,000. PTC levies a one-time charge for the software, which costs $5000 for one site or $4000 per site for multisite practices. The other major start-up cost is buying the inventory in advance, which runs about $2000-$3000 per doctor, Moseley said.

He said it usually takes his clients 6 months to cover their start-up costs, but he notes that practices that take full advantage of in-house dispensing could achieve this in just 3 months. Then, 5 months after start-up, PTC begins charging a $235 monthly maintenance fee, which covers a 24/7 pharmacist hotline for patients and updating credentials with all key insurers. The other ongoing expense, of course, is paying PTC for drugs to replenish your inventory.

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