Risks of Not Delegating Refill Requests
Delegating routine, repetitive clinical tasks like refill requests is a highly efficient solution to improving provider and patient happiness and increasing the consistency in care across a healthcare organization. Delegation levels vary widely from organization to organization, with some doing none at all and others fully delegating refill requests and other routine clinical tasks.
If you’re not delegating refills already, take a look at how you’re missing out!
Standard of Care Across the Organization
When organizations have a delegated workflow, there are almost always standard protocols that are followed by the staff that process refills, ensuring that each request is processed consistently and in accordance with organizational standards. Without standardized protocols each request is left to the discretion of individual providers, whose prescribing patterns can vary greatly. The result of these inconsistencies can often be seen through its impact on an organization’s quality metrics and financials, as regular office visits and recommended diagnostics related to each refill may easily be overlooked.
Providers Working Top of License
Most providers review 10-12+ refill requests each day, though it’s not uncommon for high volume providers to receive 35-40 requests. Completing these refill requests can easily take 30-60 minutes or more, depending on volume. With a delegated workflow and refill requests off their plate, providers can spend more time on top of license work. Delegating refill requests can also have a significant impact on provider burnout, as one of the biggest contributing factors to burnout is provider time spent on administrative tasks in their EMR system - which often happens during off hours or “pajama time.”
Faster Turnaround Times
With the hectic schedules providers manage, reviewing refill requests can easily slip to the bottom of the to-do list. While some providers may remain diligent with their requests, it’s more common for refill turnaround times to exceed 24 hours, which many organizations view as a target benchmark. Long turnaround times reduce patient satisfaction and cause more busywork as inboxes get cluttered with duplicate requests coming in from requests that were sent a day or two before. Delegating refills to dedicated refill support staff promotes faster turnaround times.
Organizations that have a delegated refill workflow have seen a dramatic improvement in these three areas. Providers enjoy having one less thing to worry about, organizations appreciate the efficiency and are realizing the potential to delegate more tasks, and turnaround times have improved – sometimes to as little as 12 hours!
If you’re considering delegation at your organization, download our eBook, “Introduction to Prescription Refill Requests.” As the first release in a series of four eBooks about refill workflow optimization, it will help you better understand the impact refills have on your organization, delegation models, metrics you should be measuring and industry benchmarks. Subsequent eBooks will focus further on standardizing refill protocols, gaining protocol consensus and more.
Editor's Note: While many states permit some level of delegation, unfortunately, not all do. Be sure to check with your State Boards before implementing a delegated workflow at your site.