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Physician Dispensing

Dispensing better care

How physician dispensing improves patient care at Comprehensive Urologic Care.

Case study

Comprehensive Urologic Care

Expanding solutions

As more oral medications become available, physician dispensing has become an increasingly vital component of specialty healthcare. True to its name, Comprehensive Urologic Care sought to add physician dispensing as one more way to provide a single source of care—particularly as the practice began to treat more advanced prostate cancer.

“Our goal is to provide patients with more treatment options,” said Dan Schonwald, Practice Administrator. “We recognize physician dispensing as an important addition to help us do that. Patients are already visiting us once a month for treatment. It just makes sense to give them the option of picking up their medications while they’re here.”

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Leveraging relationships

Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions was already distributing products to the practice. With the added value of its group purchasing organization—VitalSource™ GPO—the practice found the one-stop physician dispensing solution it was seeking.

“They offered a better solution than anyone else,” Schonwald said. “And in our view, it’s better to do all of our purchasing from a single source, so that we can receive more comprehensive service. When I see an opportunity or have an issue, I’d rather make one phone call than several to get the job done. When I call VitalSource™ GPO, I know I’ll receive a quick response. I heard that physician dispensing programs can be a challenge to get started, but VitalSource™ GPO made it all go as smoothly as possible.”

The patient care advantage

“Physician dispensing is a better experience for patients and their caregivers,” said Richard B. Troy, MD, FACS. “Big-box-store pharmacies don’t know our patients on a first-name basis like we do, so the comfort level here is much higher. Plus, obtaining medications at our practice is more discrete than potentially bumping into someone they know at a local pharmacy.”

Obtaining medications at the practice also helps improve adherence. Patients are more likely to fill the prescriptions and take their medications if they can pick them up while already at the practice, instead of having to visit a local retail pharmacy or contact a specialty pharmacy.

Just as important, Dr. Troy and other practice physicians can counsel patients on their medications right in the office and discuss potential risks and side effects—versus getting that information from a handout or package insert. Many patients are older, so they and their caregivers have more time to get all of their questions answered.

In short, physician dispensing is not only more convenient, it also supports better patient care. And there are financial advantages for the practice and the patient as well.

“We spend a lot of time getting patients qualified for medications,” Dr. Troy said. “Until now, there was no way for us to be compensated for that time. With physician dispensing, we can capture new revenue that would otherwise be unavailable to us. At the same time, we have better control of the cost to the patient—to help ensure it’s reasonable. We can review if a patient’s plan will cover the prescribed drug or if a lower-cost alternative is available. We can also help the patient enroll in financial assistance programs, if needed.”

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Onboarding success

The practice began dispensing medications just three weeks after the implementation process began, starting with generics on a cash basis. While the staff became accustomed to dispensing, they were collaborating with VitalSource™ GPO to add specialty oncolytic drugs to the program, which occurred in the weeks to follow.

An entire team worked together to expedite the program’s launch—including Schonwald, the practice staff and VitalSource™ GPO. “There was a lot of paperwork, but it wasn’t complicated,” Schonwald said. “We all worked together and made it a priority to get this done.”

Because every specialty practice conducts business differently, no single implementation process can work for them all. So VitalSource™ GPO followed a proven onboarding process that could tailor the physician dispensing program to the exact needs of Comprehensive Urologic Care.

“This is a very advanced, independent practice,” said Aric Burke, Regional Sales Director—Urology at Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions. “They focus on best-in-class care and wanted to provide the physician dispensing service as quickly as possible. We collaborated closely to expedite results.”

Why choose physician dispensing?

  • Improve adherence
  • Ensure patients and caregivers receive thorough counseling on medication use, side effects and potential risks
  • Serve patients longer in-practice
  • Improve convenience for patients
  • Provide a greater comfort level and enhance patient satisfaction
  • Help control costs to patients, while creating a new revenue stream for the practice
  • Assist patients with insurance claims and co-pay assistance
The key to onboarding success was maintaining close communications throughout the onboarding process. And then, continue that collaboration into the future. “We don’t disappear after the training is completed and the program goes live,” said Greg Sieg, Manager of the Physician Dispensing Program at VitalSource™ GPO. “We continue to work closely with the practice to expand the program, add new medications and streamline the claims adjudication process. But most importantly, we’re doing our part to help Comprehensive Urologic Care improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.”

Seeing the results

The practice’s cash-only medications began producing immediate results, with its six physicians prescribing approximately 4,500 generic doses every month. Specialty oncolytic drugs are also now available.
The dispensing program requires no additional time commitment from physicians, who are highly satisfied with the results. Program administration hasn’t been a burden to the staff, either. “The physician dispensing service hasn’t added a lot to my workload,” said Deborah Lucchesi, Medical Assistant. “It fits nicely and is about 10-15 percent of what I do. It takes only five to eight minutes for cash prescriptions—and slightly longer for insurance-paid drugs. The program basically runs on its own, and patients appreciate the convenience.”
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Creating a closer bond between practice and patient

What is Schonwald’s advice for other specialty practices considering the addition of physician dispensing? “Do it! It’s a great program that benefits patients and practices alike,” he said. “It may sound challenging at first—but it’s not as much work as you might think. VitalSource™ GPO does a great job of keeping everything on track.”

“While there are administrative challenges when making a change as significant as this, the upside outweighs the time and effort required to get started,” Dr. Troy added.

Physician dispensing is part of a comprehensive solution for specialty practices that can help improve business operations. Other VitalSource™ GPO services include a sophisticated suite of data analytics tools— including Advanced Practice Analytics—plus a highly competitive contract portfolio and innovative strategies for generating new revenue.

About Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions

Cardinal Health Specialty Solutions partners with healthcare providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers to ensure patients have access to the therapies they need. From supporting manufacturers on the path to successful drug commercialization, to delivering the products providers need and the efficiencies they want, we use our expertise to improve specialty care.

About Comprehensive Urologic Care

For more than 34 years, Comprehensive Urologic Care has provided both surgical and medical services to patients in Chicago’s Northwest suburbs and surrounding area. An independent, private practice, Comprehensive Urologic Care is affiliated with two major hospital systems in the area: Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital and Centegra Health System.

Call 866.300.3838 or email to learn more today