3 Ways to Build Strong Prescription Referral Bases

Here are 3 ways to build lasting prescription referral bases.

With a current population of more than 260,000 residents, my sleepy northern California county boasts 7 independent pharmacies and no less than 23 chain or big-box stores.

We know that patients have mostly unrestricted free will to choose the pharmacy that they would like to frequent for their prescriptions and medication advice. What we may forget is that medical and nursing staff, social workers, hospital case managers, and discharge planners can have significant influence over the choice any particular patient makes when fulfilling that free will.

We employ fantastic efforts to refine our pharmacy workflow while developing and implementing cutting-edge services. Our employees are certified with the latest clinical programs, and our pharmacy software and point-of-service systems are second to none. These are the fundamental steps we need to take just to stay in business.

More importantly, however, how do we endear ourselves to medical and nursing staff members in our community so that our pharmacy is the first to come to mind when they’re discharging a patient or writing prescription medication orders for a new diagnosis? Here are 3 ways to build these lasting prescription referral bases.

1. Learn to recognize when a prescription is a hospital discharge order.

In the past, this was obvious, but nowadays, most hospital discharge orders come through some e-prescribing system, so it takes a little more effort to discern the origin of the order.

Hospitals don’t want to readmit patients simply because they couldn’t pick up their prescriptions. From years of experience, we all know that patients are quite often discharged from the hospital with an order for a medication that may be difficult to fill in the community. Alert your technicians and pharmacy staff to this issue and be proactive as soon as a discharge order is identified.

If there is a difficulty, don't just simply call the hospital and state that a prior authorization is necessary. Take the time to find a solution for the patient, then call back to the hospital and ask to speak with a representative from the discharge planning team. These folks understand the importance of decreasing readmissions and will work with you to implement a solution to the situation.

2. Call your local community hospital and ask to speak with the nurse case manager team leader.

Take a moment and explain that you understand the importance of patients receiving their medications upon discharge, and that patients who don’t do so may lead to an acute readmission.

Offer your services as a pharmacy with the understanding that you have diligent technicians and pharmacists. Assure the hospital representative that your staff will work with the patient, prescriber, and hospital discharge team in order to come to an acceptable resolution for each and every difficult-to-fill prescription.

3. Understand that prior authorizations and treatment authorization requests are both difficult and time consuming for medical staff offices.

Take some time to call the local medical groups and single-provider offices that you deal with the most. Ask to speak with the office representative who performs the prior authorizations and then find out how he or she would like to be notified when an authorization is necessary.

Perhaps you can get the representative’s direct line and provide your direct line for follow up when necessary. Become the go-to pharmacy in your county for medications that require special authorization.

Building a strong prescription referral base takes time. In my experience, prescribers and office staff truly appreciate thoughtful and consistent follow through from a pharmacy. When you simply hand the prescription problem back to the medical office or hospital, you’re closing the door on future opportunities.