Well-developed prescription renewal protocols have many benefits. They help enforce a standard of care across an organization, enable renewals to be delegated from providers to staff, and can help ensure patients receive all recommended care. However, getting everyone to agree to the same protocols can often seem like a daunting task. It doesn’t have to be!
Health systems that wish to standardize prescription renewal requests will often have several consensus meetings with key stakeholders to determine protocol criteria. The consensus process can be much easier when the following factors are taken into consideration.
Before developing and implementing renewal protocols, be sure that leadership has communicated their support of the initiative. Implementing standardized protocols often represents a cultural shift and can instill fear among staff. Apprehensions can be reduced by ensuring buy in and support from leadership, as well as a thoughtful selection of committee members. Rely on the expertise of well-respected providers and staff who will be able to make their peers feel more comfortable with the process.
Because the act of renewing a prescription can touch many other parts of patient care (scheduling office visits, catching care gaps or addressing abnormal labs), it can be easy to get caught up in trying to fit everything into a renewal protocol. Stay on track by only focusing on the renewal protocol and the minimum requirements for monitoring the drug’s effect on a patient. Make a note of ancillary tasks or workflows you want to address and schedule a separate meeting to develop a plan for those.
While it may be tempting to develop “perfect” protocols right out of the gate, don’t. Medicine evolves, new guidelines are continually released, and organizational standards may change. This means that your protocols will likely morph over time and what works today may not be appropriate tomorrow. Rather, focus on agreeing to an approach that most closely aligns with industry recommendations and your organizational standards. Test out the protocols and see how they go before regrouping to discuss any changes.
When developing protocols, it’s important to recognize that a single protocol will never apply to 100% of your patients. There will always be a percentage of complex patients (usually around 20%) that should be monitored more closely by their provider. Forcing your renewal protocols to account for all patients can slow or halt consensus, and may lead to more conservative protocols than necessary. Well-developed renewal protocols should apply to the remaining 80% of your patient population, which can go a long way towards improving the delivery of care and saving provider and staff time.
If you’re interested in more consensus tips, download our free eBook, “Achieving Refill Protocol Consensus.”
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