Patients receiving medications faster

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When we need prescription medications, we want to receive them as soon as possible. But some patients prescribed exceptional drug status (EDS) drugs were waiting longer than expected. Staff at the Ministry of Health and 3sHealth undertook a mistake-proofing exercise in August to find out why.

The problem: For one class of drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s Disease, errors were made in 17 per cent of the EDS application forms doctors submitted via fax. When an application for exceptional drug status (EDS) contains errors it can’t be processed. As a result, Drug Plan assessors at the Ministry of Health contact physicians to correct errors or retrieve the missing information. These “do-overs” and follow-up with providers meant patients were waiting longer for medication approvals.

The mistake-proofing team determined the application form was part of the problem. They worked with Drug Plan assessors and physicians to re-design the application form to be as error-proof as possible, electronic, and so simple that someone who used the form only a couple of times a year could have success.

With the new user-friendly form, the error rate in applications submitted by fax has been reduced from 17 per cent to three per cent. These changes mean less re-work for physicians and assessors, and patients get their medication faster. An auditing process is in place to sustain this improvement.

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