Did you fax my prescription yet?

These words should never be uttered in a modern health care system. The use of fax machines decelerate care:

  • Questions cannot be answered in a timely fashion
  • Responses cannot be captured without the use of technology such as OCR
  • Information can be compromised if physical health data (fax pages) are not stored correctly
  • Information can be sent to the wrong location or disappear into a void if a fax number has changed or is incorrect.

What patients want

When patients visit their primary care provider or specialist today, they expect that when something needs to be done, it will be completed in a safe and timely manner. Despite this, one of the major challenges seen in primary care is the utilization of the fax. Patients are subject to prescriptions that don’t make it on time or don’t make it at all.

For some patients, this can cause significant anxiety, frustration and consternation.

One patient’s experience!

This pain point was particularly evident for one of my patients who requires monthly dispensing of medication for pain.

  • Her prior pharmacy used a fax, had limited hours, and only one staff member answered phones. The pharmacy couldn’t accept a verbal order due to the nature of the prescription.
  • Every month, she made two to three calls: “Has my prescription been sent yet? Did you send it? I called the pharmacy…they didn’t receive it.”
  • Sometimes up to 30 or 45 minutes could be spent coordinating the transmission of a single prescription by fax, with all parties growing increasingly frustrated.

How did we overcome this?

After some discussion, we decided to find a pharmacy that was PrescribeIT-enabled. From my previous experience with other patients, it became apparent that when a prescription is sent via PrescribeIT, it arrives — every time.

After the last challenging refill, I received a secure reminder message from my patient with the instructions to send the prescription to the new pharmacy.

What happened? I sent it, the pharmacy received it, and I saw when it was dispensed. The loop was closed and all of the previous struggles were removed. The future had arrived and my patient’s care was changed forever — she used to spend up to two hours every month ensuring prescriptions arrived and now was sending a single message and the script was received.

How does PrescribeIT change the experience for patients?

Our current state:
  • Patient requests medication from pharmacy → pharmacy sends fax to office → fax received by primary care → fax filed and message send to primary care provider → primary care provider reviews fax
PrescribeIT state
  • Pharmacy sends a prescription renewal request for medication → primary care provider reviews and approves medication → prescription sent and received

Patients deserve to have prescriptions filled in a timely manner. And they deserve to never have to ask the question, “Did you fax my prescription yet?”

Dr. Daniel Pepe | MD CCFP, Family Physician London Lambeth Medical Clinic

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