The Surescripts Blog

Can Manual Prior Authorizations Damage Patient/Provider Relationships? One Doc’s Word of Caution

By: Mary Martin, VP, Strategic Alliances, Surescripts

Prior authorizations cause significant frustration in healthcare today, partly due to the fact that physicians and their staff are forced to spend up to eight hours per week manually processing them. With most patient appointments being less than 15 minutes and much of that time being spent verbally rehashing medical histories, providers and patients are more pressed for time than ever.

In addition to being time-consuming, prior authorizations can also negatively impact patient/provider relationships. And no one knows more about the ripple effect of cumbersome authorizations than the providers who are in the trenches.

Dr. W. Ryan Neuhofel, who also goes by Dr. Neu, is a practicing direct primary care physician based in Lawrence, Kansas. During a recent Surescripts virtual chat, Taking the Pain Out of Prior Authorization, Dr. Neu joined fellow health IT usability experts to discuss the increasingly complex and incredibly challenging prior authorization landscape.

What was a key takeaway from Dr. Neu? Don’t ignore the impact that archaic, inconvenient and inefficient processes have on patient satisfaction and patient/provider relationships.

“What people don’t realize is how [manual prior authorization] interferes with the patient/provider relationship,” said Dr. Neu. Patients expect their medications to be covered by insurance and filled quickly, he noted. Unfortunately, he said, without an electronic process in place, patient expectations are not always met.

Dr. Neu previously documented an experience he’d had trying to obtain manual prior authorization for a CT scan, which was dreadful enough to go viral. The 21 minutes he spent on the phone truly struck a chord with patients and providers, all of whom feel the impact of tech-devoid processes.

From causing threats to patient safety and medication adherence, to making it difficult for patients to obtain timely access to medications, it’s clear that the traditional prior authorization process is in need of a major overhaul.

And now the good news: electronic solutions are available and they’re making a huge difference in the lives of patients and providers every day. With Surescripts CompletEPA, ® a 10-doctor primary care practice that processes nearly 1,000 prior authorizations each year could recoup more than 570 administrative hours, which could then be allocated to patient care. What’s more, according to a recent Surescripts survey, one of providers’ top priorities is integrating an electronic prior authorization solution into their workflow.

For more information on how electronic prior authorization is helping improve care delivery, the patient experience and patient/provider relationships, view the Taking the Pain Out of Prior Authorization virtual chat or visit

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