4 Ways Dermatologists and Pharmacists Can Better Integrate 

These tips can help pharmacists and dermatologists streamline the specialty medication process while improving profitability for everyone.   


Among the 700,000 practicing physicians in the United States today, dermatologists make up about 1.2%.1 This often causes dermatologists to remain an afterthought when pharmacies are looking to improve their workflow and partner with medical doctor’s offices to find ways to boost profitability for both parties. In addition, specialty dermatologist prescriptions can often only be filled at a reasonable price point at specialty pharmacies, as these locations can apply secondary insurance to lower the out-of-pocket cost for patients, further limiting the dermatologists.

Several obstacles surround this issue, including poor patient-to-pharmacy communication. Many specialty pharmacies still collect patient demographics, insurance, and payment information on the phone, which can lead to a high error rate. Medications often are delivered late, or not delivered at all. Even when everything goes as planned, patients are still lacking clear visibility into out-of-pocket pricing and when their prescriptions will arrive. Patients end up calling their doctors for clarity, which in turn leads to a larger workload for the prescriber.

Prior authorizations are required for several of these medications in order for them to be submitted to the payer. Entering in the appropriate data, following up, and tracking the status of these medications can be a tedious process for the medical doctor office staff.

Refill management also can be challenging for both parties to navigate, as pharmacies typically fax doctors for refill authorizations. The doctors’ offices are inundated with a pile of faxes they then have to enter back into their electronic medical records to authorize refills. Pharmacies and dermatologists can follow 4 steps to better integrate while also mutually increasing profitability.

Keep Patients Informed

In today’s tech-driven world, HIPAA-compliant technology is more accessible to facilitate better communication between patients and pharmacies. These solutions help to keep patients informed on 2 of their most common questions: when will my meds arrive and how much will it cost me? Utilizing solutions to alleviate uncertainty for patients will streamline processes for both the dermatologist and the pharmacist, thus avoiding the need to repeatedly answer the same questions.

Streamline Communications Between Doctors’ Offices and Pharmacies

In addition to keeping patients informed, tools are available that can aid in facilitating communication between the doctor’s office and pharmacies. These software tools can manage matters related to claim adjudication, including prior authorizations. The medical doctors’ offices are granted the ability to track the status of prescriptions issued, to see if their patients are getting their refills, and to gauge if patients may be having trouble with adherence. This helps the doctor’s office take the necessary steps to solve an issue with their patient as soon as it may develop.

Adopt Refill Management Software

Refill management software is often seen as invaluable to pharmacists. Allowing for a more accurate, real-time process, this solution simplifies refill authorizations and prompts patients who may need to book a follow-up appointment before any refills may be authorized. 

Choose Value vs Price

For many, selecting specialty pharmacies based on the price alone may seem like the most intuitive option, yet medical doctor’s offices are encouraged to consider working with specialty pharmacies that offer the highest value to both patients and the practices themselves consequently. 

Health care technology will only continue to grow. These 4 tips can help pharmacists and dermatologists streamline the specialty medication process while improving profitability for everyone. 

Mr Thomas is CEO and founder of Phil, a national prescription management platform for specialty drugs.  


1. Statistics. Florida Society of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery website. https://fsdds.org/about/statistics/. Accessed July 22, 2018.