Development and implementation of a centralized comprehensive refill authorization program in an academic health system

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Abstract

Purpose

The development and implementation of a centralized, comprehensive, refill authorization (CCRA) program within an academic health system are described.

Summary

In order to improve continuity of care for our medically complicated patients, ambulatory pharmacy services developed and implemented a highly coordinated CCRA program for multiple community clinics within the system. To implement the CCRA program, we centralized the refill-request intake process to the Pharmacy Ambulatory Clinical Care Center (PAC3). PAC3 technicians were incorporated into the refill authorization process, and the collaborative practice agreement was updated to standardize the pharmacist refill approval process at the PAC3. We successfully standardized and centralized the medication refill process from 10 community clinics with 95 family practice and internal medicine providers and 26 medical residents. We handled an average of 12,000 refill requests each month, and pharmacists documented any interventions performed with each refill request. The cost savings associated with the CCRA program were attributed to the increased efficiency of the staff reviewing refill requests. The CCRA program increased the refill approval up to 10% compared with the previous decentralized refill authorization model. With the increased approval rate, the CCRA program saved 510 hours of our providers’ time annually, which created time for an additional 1,530 clinic visits. We demonstrated a faster average turnaround time for refill authorization, from an average of 72 hours before implementation to about 1 business day.

Conclusion

Implementation of an integrated refill authorization service standardized the method by which patients’ refill requests were addressed, increased refill efficiency, and improved refill authorization turnaround time.

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