Pharmacy is an ancient science, art, and service. Since the beginning of time, humans have needed treatment from the hands of experienced practitioners to treat their wounds and injuries. Even now that we use cars instead of horses to travel, it’s difficult for pharmacists to reach every patient that is in need of service. Now, with the advancement of technology, pharmacists are able to reach patients in underserved areas. Rural patients lack easy access to pharmaceutical care and tell pharmacies are gaining popularity as a modern option for pharmacists.
What is a Telepharmacy?
A telepharmacy is a form of pharmaceutical care where patients communicate with pharmacists through telecommunication. If you’ve ever ordered a prescription online and picked it up through an automated system, you’ve used a form of telepharmacy.
Types of Telepharmacies
A patient can receive counseling and consultation from a pharmacists with the use of video chat and other telecommunication services.
Remote Order Entry
A pharmacist at a remote location can review and authorize medication in real-time allowing for 24/7 services.
An automated system that packages, labels, and dispenses prescription bags & medications.
Benefits of Telepharmacies
Telepharmacies offer significant benefits for both patients and pharmacists. The most obvious benefit is that patients have access to healthcare. Patients who are not always able to access transportation or patients who have disabilities that make it difficult to leave their homes are finally able to receive the care they need. Patients also receive a high quality of service through telepharmacies because pharmacists are able to collaborate with their peers and offer a more diverse approach to patient’s questions.
Telepharmacies also reduce operating costs by allowing pharmacists to interact with patients remotely instead of setting up a brick and mortar location. Both patients and pharmacists benefit from the added security and privacy telecommunication offers. According to Comprehensive Pharmacy Services, telepharmacies increase operational efficiency as well.
“Telepharmacy services can reduce after-hours drug approval times down to as little as 14-20 minutes, while decreasing the amount of medication errors during the time that pharmacists are on call or understaffed.” – Comprehensive Pharmacy Services
Impacts on Communities
According to RUPRI Center for Rural Health, 1,231 (16.1%) of independently owed rural pharmacies closed between 2003 to 2018 leaving many residents without providers. By giving communities access to healthcare, patients have a greater sense of safety and security. Telepharmacy patients have also reported being happier too. According to a study by the College of Pharmacy at Washington State University, over 75% of patients were satisfied using telecommunication services with their pharmacists.