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Six simple tips to rev up refills and revenue
A few tweaks to your paperwork and front desk, and refill annoyances will be a thing of the past.
Your receptionist is irritated, and the client on the phone can tell. It's a prescription refill request, but the doctor didn't include refill information in the patient's record. Now the receptionist has to leave the desk, find the doctor, and ask if the pet is approved for a refill. The doctor must look through the record to refresh his memory. The client waits on the phone. Everyone is aggravated.
It doesn't have to be this way, says Brian Conrad, CVPM, practice manager at Meadow Hills Veterinary Hospital in Kennewick, Wash. A few tweaks to your paperwork procedure and front-desk efficiency, and refill rage will be a problem of the past. Keep in mind that refills are a prime product for clients to price-shop. "The easier we make this, the more likely the consumer will be to buy the medication from us," Conrad says. Here are six steps to refill relief:
1. Remember to write down the refill information. The chief roadblock to a client refill request is poor documentation. If the veterinarian doesn't record how many refills are approved, it means lots of backtracking to figure it out. Sometimes a refill isn't authorized. But if a doctor is satisfied with a patient's test values for the next six months and the prescribed NSAID runs out in 30 days, well, that's a hassle for everybody.
2. Remind clients before refills are due. Conrad's software shows receptionists pop-up reminders when it's time to make a call: "Mrs. Smith, you have just three days left on your dog's medicine. Would you like us to get the prescription ready for you?" Conrad also sends postcards and e-mails to clients.
3. Ask clients to give you advance notice. Meadow Hills team members put custom-made stickers on all outgoing prescriptions. The stickers are printed with hospital contact information as well as a request for clients to call 48 hours before a refill is needed. That way, clients who follow the procedure get their medicine and don't need to wait in the lobby.
4. Bag your prescriptions just like the big dogs. Human pharmacies are providing more and more information on customized labels. So Meadow Hills does, too. Team members slap stickers on prescription bags with the hospital's logo and contact information. It's all about branding, says Conrad. "I want them to feel good that they bought the prescription from us," he says.
5. Let clients order refills online. You may not be open 24 hours a day, but there's no reason your Web site can't take refill requests in the wee hours of the morning. Internet pharmacies offer this, and you can, too. Contact your webmaster and software vendor to find out about your options.
6. Be ready for prescription phone calls. Some people will still want to call in their refills, so make it easy on your receptionists. Why? "Busy receptionists can get frustrated with refill calls," Conrad says, "and the client can tell they're put out." Place prescription refill pads at every phone station (see form above). Your front-desk staff can then jot down all the information, attach it to the patient's file or input it into the electronic record, and hand the request off to the pharmacy.
Make refills as client- and team-member-friendly as possible. Nobody wants receptionists moaning "Not another refill" or loyal clients vowing—after a long wait for a prescription—to forever get their pet's medicine from another pharmacy.