Should You Start an Appointment Based Model (ABM) in Your Pharmacy?

January 27, 2023
What is an ABM?

The Appointment-Based Model (ABM) is the practice of synchronizing your patient’s chronic medications to be refilled at the same time. This allows your pharmacy to prepare medications ahead of time for a streamlined workflow and improved patient experience. By shifting from on-demand services to scheduled services, you can position your pharmacy to better optimize patient care.  You can do this by preparing medication reviews or other clinical services in advance to maximize the quality and uptake of services. Your appointment is your opportunity to engage with your patient and address any concerns or gaps they may have in their care.  

The appointment based model is also a great approach to streamlining your inventory.  By scheduling refills in advance, you can ensure your pharmacy has the necessary medications in stock when your patients need to pick them up. A predictable workflow can lead to a higher inventory turnover thereby lowering inventory costs.You can also save on delivery costs by reducing the number of deliveries and simplifying delivery routes. All of this is to say, ABMs can benefit both your pharmacy practice, your patients, and your bottom line. 

The Evidence Behind ABMs

There are numerous studies that back up the benefits of ABMs. Studies have shown that enrolling patients in ABMs significantly increases the number of fills as well as in-person appointments increasing the number of vaccinations.  The average non-ABM patient fills 7.4 out of 12 refills per prescription whereas ABM patients fill 11 out of 12 refills per prescription, generating 3.6 additional scripts annually per medication per patient.1 This shows ABMs are improving medication adherence. 

The ABM process uses four core components which includes identifying and enrolling patients, medication review and assessment, refill alignment, and medication preparation. These four components have shown to significantly improve medication adherence rates. Research suggests a pharmacy should aim to have 16% of their total prescription volume synchronized to improve adherence and 31% of their total prescription volume for improvement in all chronic disease categories.2 

How to Start

So how do you get started? You can start by introducing this idea to a few patients you are familiar with. Focus on your regular patients on multiple medications with whom you have a positive rapport.  You can ask them, “Would you like us to schedule all your medications for pick up on the same day?” but make sure you follow this question with a value proposition to effectively communicate the benefit of this service. 

Value Propositions to Tell Your Patients About ABM’s:

“This way you pick up all your medications at once and don’t have to make as many trips to the pharmacy.”

“If we schedule your refills ahead of time, we can make sure we have all the stock we need so you don’t need to come back for any missing meds.”

“You don’t need to worry about calling in your refills. We will keep track of your medication schedule and get everything ready ahead of time. We will call you when it’s ready.” 

“If we schedule a pick up time, the pharmacist can arrange to sit down with you to review your medications and ensure you are receiving the treatments that are best for you.”

As you start getting feedback from these patients, you can then decide to onboard more and more patients. The more patients you enroll, the less phone calls you have to attend, the less patients that wait, and the more consistent your schedule is! You will feel much more in-control of your practice.

If you are looking for a simple way to get started, you can consider MedEssist! MedEssist is not just a digital storefront for prescriptions, vaccinations, and other services. It's also a complete dashboard to help you communicate and organize your day to day activities including implementing an ABM. If you’re looking for help on how to get started with MedEssist to implement a scheduled workflow, just ask us!

  1. Holdford, D. et al. 2013, ‘Adherence and persistence associated with an appointment-based medication synchronization program’, Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 53(6), pp 576-583. 
  2. Barnes, B. et al. 2018, ‘Appointment-based models: A comparison of three model designs in a large chain community pharmacy setting’, Journal of the American Pharmacists Association, 58(2), pp 156-162.

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