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Improving prescription refill workflows with automation

As the volume and complexity of prescription refill requests increases, physicians are spending more time evaluating incoming requests, resulting in less time for patient care. Ultimately, it takes a toll on patients and the entire care team.

Primary care physicians would need to work an average of almost 22 hours a day to properly care for their current level of patients. These demands are unsustainable, especially considering the growing number of patients entering the healthcare system. It’s no wonder that more than 50% of providers report symptoms of burnout.

On the patient side, when resources aren’t available to process all the incoming requests, the turnaround time suffers. It’s not uncommon for it to sometimes take three to four days to process requests, which can cause stress and potential treatment delays for the patient. Further, medications often have specific labs or visits required for patients’ ongoing health maintenance, which can easily slip through the cracks with a backlog of refill requests.

Automating the process

Solutions that help automate tasks and reduce administrative burden on physicians are some of my favorite solutions in our Allscripts Developer Program portfolio. Specialized technology can have a real influence on alleviating the challenges of performing some of these routine, daily administrative tasks for providers and clinical staff.

Physicians need an application that fits into existing workflows, such as healthfinch’s Charlie Practice Automation Platform. Charlie’s Refill Management application seamlessly integrates with Allscripts TouchWorks® EHR. Once a request hits in the inbox, Charlie:

  • Reviews the patient’s chart and gathers key medication data – such as last refill, last visit and last lab
  • Compares this information against 1,000+ evidence-based protocols to determine whether the request is in protocol, out of protocol, off protocol, a duplicate or a controlled substance
  • Enables staff to quickly and easily approve In Protocol requests, delete duplicates or forward the requests on to providers for further review

This process enables the delegation of refill management to other clinician staff. Providers only need to review requests flagged as Out of Protocol or a Controlled Substance.

Implementing Charlie within TouchWorks EHR helps clinicians identify care gaps. Not only does Charlie review the current medication request, but it reviews the patient’s entire medication list and identifies missed visits, labs or procedures. These missed events can then get scheduled and close gaps in care, leading to more refill requests being marked as In Protocol and a more engaged patient-provider relationship. 

Health systems across the country are realizing the efficiency and savings that Charlie can bring to their organizations. St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare quickly saw benefits after implementing Charlie about a year ago. As the organization processes more refills and close gaps in care, metrics continue to improve. Heritage tripled the efficiency of technicians by enabling delegation of 69% of their refill volume to non-clinical technicians. Staff are now capable of processing 200 refills per FTE per eight-hour shift.

Interested in learning more about Charlie and how its Refill Management application can improve your clinical workflows? Register for the upcoming webinar with healthfinch and St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare on September 25 at 1 p.m. ET. Or register to meet healthfinch in the expo area of our user group meeting Oct. 3-5 in St. Louis, MO.

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