Assessing the Efficacy of Intervention on Prescription Pick-Up Rates from a Student-Run Medical Free Clinic

Rachel Wenner

A preview of the full poster available below.

A preview of the full poster available below.

Undergraduate Student Project

Introduction

My name is Rachel Wenner, and I am a current undergraduate student in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.  As a public health student I have had the opportunity to volunteer alongside students of various disciplines weekly at a student-run free medical clinic in Buffalo's East Side.  The Lighthouse Free Medical clinic serves underinsured and uninsured members of the Buffalo community by providing numerous services free of charge to those who need them. Through my time at the clinic, our team identified a key problem that arose after a patient left our clinic for services.  Although all of the services we provide on scene are complimentary, patients are required to fill and pick up any medications prescribed to them by our physicians at a remote pharmacy.  Due to the fact that Lighthouse does not have its own in-house pharmacy, we are unable to control the prices of these necessary medications when a patient seeks medications from these various providers.  We asked ourselves, "How can we intervene to provide the most cost effective services even after a patient leaves our clinic?"

It was through the identification of this problem that we were able to complete a project spanning the course of the fall and winter semester to properly assess the data behind the problem.  We called the countless pharmacies that our patients filled their prescriptions at, and gathered the data needed to make a proper assessment.  After realizing that many of our patients struggled to afford their medications due to elevated insurance copays, lack of insurance, and high prescription costs, we decided to intervene and implement and intervention aimed to improve patient access to their much needed medications. The clinic has begun providing every patient who was prescribed a medication a GoodRx card and information sheet specific to the location, cost, and potential discount of each medication.   The information sheet contained the medication name, diagnosis, pharmacy name, and estimated GoodRx price found via the GoodRx App.  Each patient was spoken with by their physician  if they would have any trouble affording their medication given the estimated cost provided to them.  If they answer yes, the pharmacy was changed, or the provider was able to prescribe an appropriate alternate medication in order to make the script more affordable for the patient.

Through this intervention, we have already begun to see significant improvements in the prescription fill rates by the patients visiting our clinic. 

Abstract

Patient medication adherence, while critical for improving health outcomes, is currently suboptimal. Lighthouse Free Medical Clinic is a student-run free medical clinic that provides care to the under- and uninsured in Western New York.  Lighthouse seeks to better understand the baseline rate of patients picking up prescriptions and has implemented a simple intervention to increase prescription pick-up rates.

In this retrospective prescription review, a total number of 117 prescriptions from 73 patients were assessed. Information on whether the patient picked up their prescription was obtained from calling each pharmacy and asking 1) if the medication prescribed was picked-up and 2) the cost to the patient.

It was found that of the prescriptions analyzed, only 58.12% of prescriptions were picked up. Due to this low rate of prescription pick-up, the clinic has implemented interventions to provide patients clearer information regarding their prescriptions and cost.

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