From a pharmacist: challenges in specialty prescribing

November 12, 2015

Mark is a specialty pharmacist in south Florida and a former pharmaceutical representative. Over the course of a long day, he deals with a host of frustrations related to inefficient communication with physicians and patients. He believes ZappRx’s prescribing solution is a promising new way to alleviate these problems and create a better, safer health care experience.

Where do you work? Can you describe the environment?

I work at a large retail pharmacy in south Florida. Because of our location, we get a lot of prescriptions for specialty HIV anti-retroviral medications — so we’re officially designated a specialty pharmacy. However, we also fill many non-specialty prescription orders. In fact, my pharmacy fills hundreds of prescriptions per day, and I work alongside one other pharmacist with whom I split my hours. The environment is very fast-paced, and unfortunately, customers are all too often frustrated because their prescriptions aren’t filled fast enough. This is largely due to the long specialty prescribing process. We often wait for additional paperwork or a call back from doctors.

How are specialty drug orders filled by pharmacists?

Sometimes, we receive prescription orders electronically, but many come in through faxes or over the phone. Our printer will print off big, long sheets of prescription labels with the patient’s name, the drug name, and the price. Then I fill bottles of pills and add the labels. For each prescription, there are three to four to a half dozen issues that come up on the computer screen. And, I’ll have to check out each issue and decide whether to override it, call the physician, or talk to the patient. Next, I do a final check and store the prescription in an alphabetically-organized bin for pickup.

How is managing prescriptions for specialty drugs different than non-specialty drugs?

The specialty prescriptions we fill are mainly for HIV medications, and in the case of these drugs, I’m usually very concerned. Therapy for HIV patients is always very complex. They take a lot of medications, and it’s important they strictly follow their treatment plans. If they’re able to adhere to a regimen, HIV becomes just another chronic disease, and patients are able to live almost normal lifespans. Another thing about specialty medications is that they are very, very expensive. A lot of drug manufacturing companies will issue copay discount cards, which add another step to the process. Often specialty patients take many medications at once and switch regularly, so pharmacists have to watch out for drug interactions.

What could ZappRx do to make your life easier?

In theory, it's not hard to fill a prescription. It should be a simple process, but communication back and forth between doctors and pharmacists is very poor. As a pharmacist, we only get half of the picture of what is going on with patients.

Some doctor offices even have staff dedicated to issuing authorizations to pharmacists and insurance companies. It’s that time-consuming. Streamlining the communication process through health technology will return prescribing to what it should be – a simple and quick process.

Learn about ZappRx technology for pharmacists or call one of our representatives at 617-982-3728 to schedule a demo.