Provider Protocols to Streamline Medication Changes

A patient waiting over a week for a medication change that they need is unacceptable. Patients shouldn’t have to worry about whether or not their medication will arrive on time. This is where provider protocols can make a positive difference in patient medication changes.

Provider protocols aren’t a foreign concept in the world of medicine. Physicians have been using them for years in hospitals in order to allow for a more team-centered approach between providers and pharmacists. We have merely pioneered bringing this model into the retail pharmacy. Because this team approach is more efficient, it helps provide patients with better care and lower cost medications.   

Dermatologists have thousands of medications in their tool belt that they can prescribe to best help their patients. In some situations though, there are factors outside of direct interaction with a patient’s diagnosis and treatment that a provider cannot realistically be aware of.  

The Old Way

In a pharmacy without a provider protocol in place, the pharmacist would have to reach out to the provider if any issue arose. From there, the pharmacist would let the provider know what the issue is and ask how the provider would like to modify the prescription.

The problem with this model is the provider is not an expert in medication costs, or different ways the medication may be available, and another big issue is the communication in general.

Trying to reach the other party on the phone can be a major challenge for both the pharmacist and the provider. The pharmacy may try to reach the provider, but the provider might be preoccupied with other tasks. This can begin a cycle of phone tag, which can cause quite the headache, not only for the pharmacy and the provider, but also for the patient. 

Due to these communication issues, it may take 1-2 weeks before a medication change is finally approved.  Having provider protocols in place could have prevented these issues from ever happening. 

The New Way (Provider Protocol)

With a provider protocol in place, we can streamline a process that usually takes days or weeks and complete the process in minutes, thus significantly reducing the time it takes for a patient’s medication change to be approved. 

The protocol process consists of our pharmacists referring back to the provider protocol to see what the provider prefers in specific situations and combines that with years of experience to make a medication change that is best for that patient. This not only saves huge amounts of time and gets the medication in the patient’s hands faster, but it often saves the patient significant amounts of money!

Protocol Details 

Our provider protocols are focused on two primary areas. The first area is using alternative medication strengths or release mechanisms when necessary. Many medications come in 10 or more strengths and different types of release mechanisms. Some of the more common mechanisms of release include:

  • Immediate Release
  • Delayed Release
  • Extended Release 

The second area we focus on is medications within a class. Medications often have 3-5 other medications in the same class, meaning that they have remarkably similar properties that help patients and do it in a similar way. The difference among these medications is that they have different nuances that both pharmacists and providers should know in order to make timely and wise decisions that benefit the patients.      

Creating a Protocol 

At Big Country Dermatology Pharmacy, we work with each provider to create a protocol that fits their patients’ needs. No two providers are exactly alike, because they make their own choices and have different ways of working. If we used the same protocol for each provider, then there would be a lot of headaches and frustration between the pharmacy, provider, and the patients.

In realizing this perspective, we are able to streamline communication for each provider’s practice that chooses to use a protocol, which results in a better patient experience. 

For more information to help create a protocol for your practice, contact one of our excellent pharmacists. Simply call the pharmacy and ask to speak with a pharmacist about provider protocols.



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