For many people, the concept of a central dispensing pharmacy (CDP) is unusual. For as long as we can remember, we’ve always carried our prescription out of the doctor’s office and into our local pharmacy. But even before the COVID-19 pandemic, central dispensing pharmacies were gaining popularity. The popularity was due to two good reasons: time savings and financial savings. Now with the COVID-19 pandemic underway, central dispensing pharmacies are a great choice for those reasons and others.
What is a Central Dispensing Pharmacy?
As its name suggests, a central dispensing pharmacy is a pharmacy that dispenses medication from one or more central locations. The medication is dispensed at the central locations, then is couriered directly to the patient. This is a model that was originally created to service long term care facilities. Its success prompted an expansion to service consumers, not in long term care.
Just like a local pharmacy, a central dispensing pharmacy is an accredited pharmacy. They provide patient counselling regarding medications – only with a central dispensing pharmacy this occurs over the phone. They also keep individual profiles to keep track of health conditions, allergies and concurrent medications.
Prescriptions are faxed directly from the doctor’s office to the central dispensing pharmacy. Most central dispensing pharmacies do not have storefronts where consumers can visit, instead, they’re geared toward dispensing and couriering. Some even use robotic technology to help fill prescriptions (which means very low error rates).
Central dispensing pharmacies save money. They usually have lower overhead than a local pharmacy because they do not typically have a storefront. They can also leverage economies of scale to provide very competitive rates. They save the employee benefit plan money, and they save the consumer money.
- Employee Benefit Plan – Central dispensing pharmacies save the benefit plan money because they offer very competitive rates. At GroupHEALTH, we have negotiated with our central dispensing pharmacy partners to secure low dispensing fees. In some cases, the dispensing fees we’ve negotiated are less than 50% of the dispensing fees charged at a local pharmacy.The other differentiating factor is that our pharmacy partners understand how our Smart Rx products work. For plans that include drug formularies, the central dispensing pharmacy helps steer employees towards generics or therapeutic alternatives so they get the most out of their benefits coverage.The result is cost savings for the employee benefit plan. This ultimately protects the sustainability of the benefit plan.
- Plan Member – Central dispensing pharmacies save plan members money both directly and indirectly. If a plan member is responsible for a dispensing fee or a co-pay, they are saving money directly through low dispensing fees and maximum markups. Their portion of the total cost is less than it would be at a local pharmacy. There’s also no fee for the delivery.They’re also saving money indirectly. Often when a person visits their local pharmacy they are required to wait for the prescription to be filled. During the wait, the plan member typically wanders around the pharmacy and ends up purchasing products in the store. Often times these are impulse buys, not products that are actually needed or wanted. Ergo, the plan member is saving money.
One of the biggest advantages for Plan Members who use a central dispensing pharmacy is time savings. When a prescription is faxed directly from the doctor’s office to the pharmacy, and the medication is delivered directly to their home or office, the amount of time savings is significant.
There’s no trip to the local pharmacy. There’s no waiting in line to drop off the prescription. There’s no waiting for the prescription to be prepared. There’s no waiting for patient counselling once the prescription is ready. This adds up to a lot of time savings. For many of us, time is money.
During a Pandemic
There are many reasons why a central dispensing pharmacy is a great addition to an employee benefits plan, even when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic. But a central dispensing pharmacy during a pandemic is even more valuable.
Health authorities have determined that one of the biggest factors in preventing the spread of COVID-19 is physical distancing. Throughout Canada, this means staying two metres apart from others whenever possible.
A central dispensing pharmacy is almost the definition of physical distancing. Plan members do not have to enter the pharmacy, they do not come in contact with pharmacy personnel and they can remain physically distant from couriers who deliver their medication. Even better, our central dispensing pharmacies also offer a selection of over-the-counter products. This is the ultimate in convenience when physical distancing is required. It’s also very safe – perhaps the safest option for purchasing prescription medication amidst the outbreak of a contagious virus.
Good Advice is Key
Do you wonder how much money a central dispensing pharmacy can save your employee benefits plan? Do you want to provide your employees with a safe, convenient way to receive prescription drugs while protecting the long-term financial sustainability of your benefit plan? Review your options with one of our licensed advisors on the phone, or contact us for a comparison quote.
Whether you’re looking for extended health and dental coverage, disability coverage, or life and critical illness coverage, GroupHEALTH has affordable benefits packages that work as hard as you do.