Community Telepharmacy Sites Offer Patients Better Pharmacy Access
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Alex Graber and Greg Janes, TelePharm
Community health centers are embracing telepharmacy technology as a way to cure the challenges of meeting prescription medication needs for patients in remote geographical communities. Telepharmacy is important to patients because it allows healthcare centers to bring pharmacy services to patients in their own community right where they need it. Limited access to health care resources heighten these strains in rural and remote areas where residents are more likely to be elderly, poor, have chronic medical conditions and lack access to transportation.
One-third of patients fail to fill their initial prescription, leading to an increase in hospital readmissions, visits to a healthcare professional, and increase healthcare cost. Additionally, 75% of patients would fill their prescription in their doctor’s office instead of a pharmacy if given a choice. Ease of access to pharmacy services like telepharmacy can significantly improve adherence and health outcomes.
Chances are you’ve heard of telepharmacy, but you might not fully understand what it means and how it works. Let’s start with a definition. Telepharmacy is “the provision of pharmacist care by registered pharmacies and pharmacists through the use of telecommunications to patients at a distance,” according to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP). While a good definition, it’s a very broad one. There are four different types of telepharmacy, including inpatient, IV-admixture, prescription verification and counseling and education. This article is focused on community and outpatient telepharmacy, which encompasses remote prescription verification and counseling.
Did you know?
Telepharmacy can be used wherever a patient can benefit from the expertise of a pharmacist.
Think of a retail telepharmacy, or a remote-dispensing site, as an extension of current pharmacy operations. A remote-dispensing site is a licensed brick-and-mortar pharmacy staffed by one or more Certified Pharmacy Technicians. Prescriptions are prepared by the Certified Pharmacy Technicians, and each prescription is then reviewed by the managing pharmacist located off-site.
Telepharmacies operate in the same manner as traditional pharmacies, except the prescription verification and patient consultation are provided by the off-site pharmacist. In order to pick up their prescription, the patient must engage in a live-and-interactive video counseling session performed via a secure connection on a tablet computer. Imagine the traditional managing pharmacy as the hub and the remote telepharmacy as a spoke that offers patients more convenient access to pharmacy care services.
Telepharmacy is also a wonderful option for dispensing at the point of care. Healthcare organizations can utilize telepharmacy software to provide convenient access to high-quality pharmaceutical care. Adherence-friendly point-of-care dispensing can help improve patient outcomes by removing the early-stage obstacle of compliance. Retail or outpatient dispensing at the point of care can benefit hospitals, health systems, clinics, mental health facilities, physician’s practices and more.
A telepharmacy site provides all the care and services of a traditional retail pharmacy, but in such a way that it can operate in areas where a traditional pharmacy is not feasible. The collaborative staffing model allows healthcare organizations to maximize resources and share pharmacists across the organization for optimal efficiency. Remote-dispensing sites can also help lower the cost to dispense medication.
Cardinal Health acquired TelePharm, a digital health-care company whose cloud-based software provides telepharmacy solutions in 2016. Founded in 2012, TelePharm’s innovative pharmacy solutions are part of a platform for remote delivery of pharmacy services for community pharmacies and health-care organizations. Cardinal Health is a Bronze Sponsor of NWRPCA.
Interested in more information about telepharmacy? Reserve your spot for our informational webinar hosted in conjunction with the NWRPCA. Thank you and we’ll see you on Thursday, April 20 at 11am PT for the webinar!
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