What is TelePharmacy?
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
With telehealth rising in popularity, telepharmacy is something that’s becoming more widely known as well. This article is here to explain what exactly telepharmacy is, along with the basics and benefits of such programs.
What Are Telepharmacy Services?
Telepharmacy is the practice of pharmacy from a remote location - done via telecommunications technology. The role of a telepharmacist will oversee many aspects of hospital pharmacy operations and provide support that helps move hospital clinics forward. This forward motion helps to facilitate patient care that goes above and beyond the standard.
Telepharmacists perform all the same tasks that in-person, on-site pharmacists do in a hospital. They perform tasks such as:
● Reviewing/verifying medication orders
● Going through medication reconciliation
● Identifying interventions for drug interactions and negative drug events
● Consulting with prescribers/nurses
● Counseling patients to use their medications in the correct manner
● Providing specialized clinical services
● Enforcing policies and procedures related to hospital medication
● Verifying outpatient retail medication
● Delivering medication management in a comprehensive manner
The practice of telepharmacy can be transformative for hospitals and healthcare facilities, especially those who are currently struggling to overcome challenges. Telepharmacy can provide solutions and resources to facilities that have many demands - like staffing shortages or increased census - to meet.
Telepharmacy can also help local pharmacies who appear to be meeting the demands of its healthcare facility. A telepharmacist can bring improvements to the organization with their clinical, operational, and financial performance. A telepharmacist makes available proprietary tools, resources, and a slew of experts that can ensure patients receive the best care possible. A telepharmacist can offer what a local pharmacy might not be able to offer on their own, without the outside resource.
What Benefits Do Telepharmacy Solutions Offer?
A successful telepharmacy solution is constructed around the knowledge that every healthcare facility is unique, and the best solution for a particular organization comes with consideration to its local caregivers, staff, and patients. A good solution should take into account the leadership goals of the location, the skills and resources it already has, and the needs of the population they serve, along with the demographics of the population.
Telepharmacy is a smart and strategic resource for retail pharmacies, physician offices, hospitals, and multi-site health systems, as the benefits it offers include:
● Relief in times of crisis
● Extension of staffing with off-site support from trained pharmacists
● Reduced labor costs
● Reduced readmissions/medication errors
● Improved reimbursement rates
● Improved HCAHPS patient satisfaction scores
● Increased nursing/staff satisfaction
● Advanced clinical initiatives
A thorough and well-resourced telepharmacy delivers solutions with support that:
● Provides coverage for weekdays, weeknights, and weekends
● Supports emergency coverage during peak hours, callouts, shortages, and weather events
● Supports the emergency department
● Makes for seamless EHR transitions
When it comes to operations, telepharmacy provides facilities with access to licensed pharmacists that can deliver coverage that’s high quality. Off-site help allows the same services to be provided for a fraction of the cost that full-time internal staff is known for. Telepharmacists are trained on each site’s policies, procedures, and dosing protocols, which makes integration and transition a seamless process.
Telepharmacy allows for pharmacists to be further involved in medication education, which has raised HCAHPS scores up to 14.7%. Further, telepharmacy has allowed pharmacist involvement in the discharge process to increase, which has delivered up to a 52% reduction in readmissions related to medication.
As the digital age continues to progress, the medical and pharmaceutical fields are encouraged to move with it. Telepharmacy is a path into the future, creating opportunities for pharmacists to extend their reach and help as many patients and facilities as possible.
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