The Truth About 90-Day Prescription Fill Numbers


October 24th, 2019

Understanding your 90-day prescription fill numbers could be advantageous for your pharmacy. Learn the truth about these numbers.

When it comes to 90-day prescription fills, there are both pros and cons for pharmacies. However, the ability to offer 90-day fills isn’t really optional in an environment of tight competition and margins. If you aren’t monitoring your 90-day fills as a percentage of total fills, then you may not know about its impact on your bottom line.

 Why the Shift to 90-Day Prescription Fills?

 The catalyst for 90-day prescriptions for retail pharmacy began in an effort to retain patients. Patients were leaving brick-and-mortar pharmacies in favor of more convenient mail-order services. A 90-day prescription meant more convenience for the patient. 

Most insurance companies and payers approve 90-day fills, including 61% of employers that allow them for maintenance medications. With really no pushback from payers and the ease for patients, it’s easy to see why it’s become a trend.

 90-Day Fills Pros: Medication Adherence and Sync

90-day prescription fills medication

 It can also help with medication adherence. According to one study, one out of every 10 instances of medication nonadherence is caused by a patient being late on their refills.  

 Even though most pharmacies offer automatic refills on 30-day scripts, that doesn’t always mean they pick them up in time. Sure, pharmacies have multiple ways of reminding customers that their refills are ready, including phone calls, texts, and in-app notifications. However, those prompts don’t always lead to prompt pickups.

90-day scripts can make a difference in improving adherence. And this is one reason that a pharmacy may suggest them, outside of ensuring patient retention. 

Another reason a pharmacy may be inclined to push 90-day fills is for medication synchronization. Med synching offers the opportunity to get all chronic meds on the same schedule for the patient. If all meds are filled and ready on the same date, patients find it much easier to adhere to their medication requirements. 

Do 90-Day Fills Reduce Costs?

90-day fills can actually reduce costs for the entire healthcare ecosystem. A study found that substantial savings do come from 90-day fills in the realm of reducing pharmacy dispensing costs and ingredient costs. The study looked at over 52,000 patients and found that following quantifiable savings per person per year by medication type:

  • Stains: $7.70
  • Antihypertensives: $10.80
  • SSRIs: $18.52
  • Hypoglycemics: $26.86

With prescription costs already taking up a big chunk of the healthcare spend at 9.5%, as of 2017. Any relief to curtail expenses for all parties is a welcome one.

Costs can also be reduced with medication adherence. Not taking meds could lead to hospitalizations or other costs associated with a patient not taking a daily medication as prescribed.

Although, it’s important to note that Medicare Part D does not allow for 90-day prescriptions, so these medications aren’t applicable to the situation. 

What You Miss with 90-Day Fills

The most critical revenue element eliminated by 90-day fills is the additional dispensing fees, you’d receive. You go from three dispensing fees to just one. 

Indirectly, you may also lose revenue from non-prescription purchases, as the patient will be entering your location less frequently. 

However, to remain competitive, you may have to reduce your margins to offer that same convenience as a mail-order pharmacy. 

90-Day Prescription Insights

Knowing your numbers is key to your pharmacy’s performance. Not only do you need to know your current numbers, but you should also have access to historical numbers for comparison. 

For example, if you found that there was a drop from last month to this month in 90-day prescriptions, this might prompt you to look further into “why.” Did you lose the customers to a competitor? Did they switch back to 30-day supplies? Did they stop taking the medication? 

By finding out the context behind the numbers, you can better understand how 90-day fills impact your business. 

Understanding your data begins with being able to access it. No one understands pharmacy data like InfoWerks. If you’d like to have this type of access, we can help with customized data analytics and business intelligence tools. Connect with us today to learn more.

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