When Patients Need a Prescription Renewed, the Waiting Is the Hardest Part

March 22, 2023

When Patients Need a Prescription Renewed, the Waiting Is the Hardest Part

More Than a Quarter of Patients Ran Out of Medication Waiting for a Renewal, and Nearly a Quarter Considered Changing Doctors Due to Delays, Survey Finds

Rockville, Md. – March 22, 2023 – Patients waiting for prescription renewals often face challenges and delays that can impact their health, according to a new survey by health technology pioneer DrFirst.

When prescriptions are out of refills or have expired, the doctor needs to authorize a renewal, which is essentially a new prescription for the medication. Even though pharmacies often send an electronic renewal request to the doctor on behalf of patients, the process can take longer than expected, causing patients to worry about running out of needed medications.

“What ought to be a simple, straightforward electronic process is often complicated by interoperability issues,” said Colin Banas, MD, MHA, chief medical officer for DrFirst. “The systems used by the doctor and the pharmacy don’t speak the same language, so vital prescription information could be missing or hard to find, slowing everything down and forcing the doctor to check the renewal request line by line, comparing it to the original prescription. This increases the time for doctors to approve renewal requests and can be harmful and frustrating for patients who run out of medicine while waiting for their prescriptions to be renewed.”

The survey of 400 consumers explores their experiences when getting prescriptions renewed in the last 12 months. Respondents say they have:

  • Been concerned about the health ramifications of running out of their medication (44%)
  • Run out of medication while waiting for the renewal (27%)
  • Changed doctors or considered doing so because of delays in prescription renewals (24%)
  • Contacted the pharmacy or doctor more than once to get their prescription renewed (21%)
  • Waited longer than expected for their prescription to be renewed (20%)

“People with chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, need to take their medications every day,” said Banas. “Delays with getting their prescriptions renewed do not need to happen. That is one reason DrFirst has introduced SmartRenewal, closing data gaps so it’s faster and safer for doctors to review and approve electronic renewal requests.”

SmartRenewal eliminates many issues contributing to delays in approving prescription renewal requests. Using DrFirst’s patented AI technology, it automates the transcription of medication instructions (known as “sigs”) into the terminology used by the doctors’ electronic health record (EHR) systems, significantly cutting down on the manual clicks and keystrokes that can lead to medication errors and provider burnout.



A national online survey of 400 U.S. consumers, ages 18 and over, was conducted by Pollfish on behalf of DrFirst in March 2023. Survey responses were nationally representative of the U.S. population for age, gender, region, and ethnicity. The maximum margin of sampling error was +/- 5 percentage points with a 95% confidence level.


About DrFirst

Since 2000, DrFirst has pioneered healthcare technology solutions and consulting services that securely connect people at touchpoints of care to improve patient outcomes. We create unconventional solutions that solve care collaboration, medication management, price transparency, and adherence challenges faced in healthcare. We unite the Healthiverse—the interconnected healthcare universe—by providing our clients with real-time access to the information they need, exactly when and how they need it, so patients get the best care possible. DrFirst solutions are used by nearly 325,000 healthcare professionals, including more than 220,000 prescribers, 70,000 pharmacies, 300 EHRs and health information systems, and 1,500 hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. To learn more, visit and follow @DrFirst.


Media Contact

Katlyn Nesvold

Amendola Communications for DrFirst