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Physicians: Be Open to Changes that Improve Provider-Patient Relationships

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It’s perfectly natural to want to resist change, especially if the old ways of doing things have worked all along. But healthcare is an industry that is rapidly changing from day to day, month to month, and year to year. Being able to adapt to these changes will make you more effective as a care provider and as a job candidate.

If we told you that some physician practices were opening up dispensaries in their facilities, how would you react? The idea of integrating pharmaceutical services within the same facility as traditional physician services seems to be pretty radical. In fact, some of you may be inclined to resist it.

But Brian Bizub, chief executive officer of Palm Beach Orthopaedic Institute (PBOI) in Palm Beach Garden, Fla., told me that opening up dispensaries within PBOI’s facilities has actually benefited the organization, both in its finances and in its relationships with patients.

PBOI does a $10 markup on medication, so patients who lack pharmacy coverage can purchase their medication for only $10 more than the practice paid for it. It’s also more accommodating from a compliance standpoint, he said, because if the patient is participating in a step program, many of the meds may not be on the formulary. Being in the physician’s office enables the conflict to be confronted immediately and resolved almost as quickly.

Furthermore, patient confidentiality is preserved in a way that might not be possible in a public pharmacy.

The primary challenge, he said, is credentialing, since many insurance carriers do not recognize physician dispensaries easily. However, for those practices willing to go through the process, in which an office must have a certain number of denied claims to be seen as a dispensary, the benefits are great. An office dispensary increases revenue and provides a value-added service to patients, Bizub said, and these patients begin to see you as a full-service provider in touch with the entire spectrum of care.

“The more that I can show the customer that they’re important to us and create a relationship, the better the organization will become and the larger it will grow, because PBOI has a reputation in the community for helping patients and providing value-added services that make it convenient and easy for them. PBOI has taken out the challenges that frustrate patients who are dealing with pain. We make the experience less difficult.”

No matter how difficult change can be, physicians should be open to those changes that are capable of improving their relationships with their patients. In fact, when you’re interviewing with an organization that has made radical changes to the way it provides some aspect of care, ask them how that particular change has improved relationships with their patients. If they can present tangible evidence to you that the changes have improved those relationships, then you should be open to adapting accordingly.

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