To introduce a system by which clinical trial prescriptions are dispensed in advance of the patient’s medical appointment in order to reduce pharmacy waiting times.
Four pharmacists and 4 research nurses formed a working party and mapped the processes around prescription writing and dispensing in order to identify areas which cause delays. A system was implemented in which research nurses obtain prescriptions for selected patients at least 2 days prior to their appointment. The trial pharmacist then dispenses the prescription and places it on hold. After the patient’s medical consultation a fax is sent to the pharmacy confirming whether or not the prescription is required. Following confirmation a final check is performed before the prescription is released to the patient. Waiting times for trial prescriptions were recorded and patients were surveyed as to their satisfaction of the pharmacy service before and after the new system was implemented.
Median waiting times for trial prescriptions improved by a mean of 21.5% (13.7% – 29.4%) in the 5 months after the implementation of the new system. Of the 35 patients surveyed whose prescriptions were not prepared in advance 20 reported waiting 1 to 2 hours and 7 over 2 hours. None of the 15 patients surveyed whose prescriptions were advanced waited over an hour and 4 reported waiting 10 minutes or less. The average satisfaction score (7.8 of a 10 maximum) was the same for both groups.
Clinical trials prescriptions take longer to dispense than standard prescriptions because of trial specific documentation and recording requirements. Implementing a system which allowed many of these processes to be completed ahead of the patient’s appointment expedited dispensing the prescription and vastly reduced the patient waiting times. Patient satisfaction remained high possibly because patients value the counselling and care of pharmacists.