Dawn Burke
Author: Dawn Burke | Date July 9, 2020

Pitfalls of Long Prescription Renewal Turnaround Times

Prescription renewal turnaround is the measurement of time between when a prescription renewal request is received by a clinic and when it is returned to the pharmacy to be filled. The industry average for prescription renewal turnaround is 24-48 hours, although it’s not uncommon for this to reach upwards of 72 hours at times.

At healthfinch, our goal is to help our customers reduce turnaround to less than 24 hours on a regular basis. We have some customers who have achieved a 12-hour turnaround or less! Why is it so important to look at the turnaround time and reduce it to under 24 hours? Here’s how lengthy turnaround times can negatively impact the health system, patients, and staff, as well as what you can do to improve it.

Higher percentage of duplicate renewal requests

Duplicate requests can consume an unnecessary amount of staff time, having to review each incoming request as if it were the first. This increases workload and reduces efficiency. Duplicates can also muddy data by skewing metrics surrounding true prescription renewal volume, making optimization of this task more challenging.

Often, renewal requests that are not acted upon within 24 hours will trigger an automated second request from the pharmacy or Surescripts. This can happen again if no response is received after 48 hours and so on, potentially creating two, three, or more of the same request. Thus, when turnaround time is below 24 hours, the number of duplicates is significantly reduced.


Related reading: See how Martin's Point Health Care saves over 40 hours of staff time each month from reduction of duplicates.
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Potential interruptions in patients’ medication management

In a perfect world, patients would request renewals several days sooner than the day they run out. However, the reality is that many patients wait until they have no more medication left to take. Having long turnaround times may mean a patient skips a day or two of medication. Shortening turnaround times as much as possible means patients can receive their medication in a timely manner and ensure continuity of care.

Lower patient satisfaction ratings

While there are many things that go into patient satisfaction ratings, the responsiveness of providers and clinical staff is a key component. Though this can include answering patient portal messages and appointment follow up, prescription renewal requests will no doubt contribute to a patients’ overall mindset about their experiences with a clinic. Keeping turnaround around times low can help support an overall higher rate of patient satisfaction.

So, how do I reduce my turnaround time?

While some providers are quite efficient at managing their renewal volume, renewals often inadvertently get backlogged as providers get pulled in several different directions throughout the day. Those that have renewals piling up find themselves completing this task during off-hours or delegating them to their nursing staff.

Delegation is the key to consistently experiencing turnaround times under 24 hours. Whether delegating within a clinic or delegating to a centralized team, detailed prescription renewal protocols enable non-provider staff to safely complete requests so they don’t become a burden on providers.

Even with protocols in place, however, staff can become overwhelmed with the volume of requests. This is where healthfinch’s solution, Charlie, can really help. With protocols integrated directly into a health system’s EMR, Charlie automatically does all the cross-checking between the renewal request, the patient’s chart and the appropriate medication protocol, saving staff several clicks worth of manual review. Each request is then clearly marked as “in protocol” or “out of protocol” so staff can quickly and easily approve it or conduct necessary follow up. And, remember those pesky duplicates? If any slip through, Charlie can call those out too!

We’d love to show you all that Charlie can do for you and your team. Reducing turnaround time is just the tip of the iceberg! Contact our team for a demo today.

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Dawn Burke

Written By: Dawn Burke on July 9, 2020

Dawn is the Marketing Manager at healthfinch, and is responsible for all aspects of marketing - from online presence and brand management to conferences and content creation.