Mail-order Pharmacies

November 1, 2004

We are having a lot of trouble with mail-order pharmacies. They are constantly on the phone, asking about changing a prescription to a drug on formulary, asking when the patient's next appointment is, verifying the diagnosis, and so on. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle these calls? They consume a lot of staff time.

Question: We are having a lot of trouble with mail-order pharmacies. They are constantly on the phone, asking about changing a prescription to a drug on formulary, asking when the patient's next appointment is, verifying the diagnosis, and so on. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle these calls? They consume a lot of staff time.

Answer: The first thing to note is that your policies and any changes you make should not impede patients from getting their medications.

It would be wonderful to work with the main mail-order companies and develop a form that includes all the information they need. You could provide that completed form to patients at the time of their appointments so they can pass it on to the mail-order companies.

From an operational perspective, it might help the practice to establish rules. For instance, require that information requests be faxed, not called in.

Also consider contacting the management of the mail-order company to help get it the information that it needs in an efficient and timely manner. Explain that its administrative processes are negatively affecting the care that you're delivering by consuming excessive staff time.