What if you could deliver comprehensive medication management services in your healthcare organization by adding a certified pharmacist to your team - without actually bringing them on site?
It’s possible with telepharmacy. And it’s fast becoming a viable option for delivering comprehensive medication management services in a way that’s convenient for patients and leverages the efficiency of an organization’s on-site pharmacists and physicians.
How Telepharmacy Works
Telepharmacy is transforming the current way we manage medications by enabling organizations to “bring in” pharmacists to deliver services such as medication treatment plan assessment, medication reconciliation, patient education, and adherence counseling. And telepharmacy solutions make it possible for clinical pharmacists to follow up with patients more frequently and more efficiently than would be possible in a traditional healthcare workflow.
Imagine a physician accessing a pharmacist on an iPad, to provide patient education and medication review during a patient’s visit to the clinic. Or a pharmacist conducting a hospital beside visit on a computer screen, reviewing medication orders with the patient and providing transition of care instructions about discharge medications. With telepharmacy, there’s no more waiting for the pharmacist to make rounds from floor to floor. The pharmacist can stay in one place and “visit” with more patients, removing these tasks from nurses and physicians and allowing them more time to work at the top of their licensure.
Inherent in comprehensive medication management is the pharmacist’s ability to access the patient’s electronic health record (EHR) to review conditions, lab and test results, and progress notes. When these services are delivered by telepharmacy, it’s no different. The remote pharmacist has read/write permissions to the patient’s account in the electronic health record (EHR) to record these patient interactions as well as make changes to the patient’s medication regimen, based on the patient’s condition. Pharmacists are empowered to modify medication treatments through collaborative practice agreements (CPAs) - protocol-driven arrangements that enable remote pharmacists to make changes to a medication regimen without asking provider permission.
And here’s another way telepharmacy can transform workflow: A remote pharmacist can deliver focused follow up with patients after they’ve seen their physician, or in the post-acute care period. Unlike the time-intensive requirements of driving to skilled nursing facilities and patient homes to see patients, telepharmacists can check-in with patients more often. During these encounters, pharmacists make sure patients have picked up and are taking their medications properly, that dosages are effective, and that adverse drug events and prescribing cascades that land patients back in the hospital or doctor’s office are minimized.
Improved Medication Management in the Hospital
We know that involving pharmacists in the medication management process improves accuracy of medication reconciliation and outcomes. In one study that included over 1,000 admissions, readmissions decreased more than 50% when a pharmacist was involved in the discharge process. And it’s not just the discharge process that can be positively impacted by the technology. New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center has had success using telepharmacy in its emergency department to facilitate medication reconciliation. Pharmacists and interns conduct the visits and update the patient’s record.
At Cureatr, we’re leveraging telepharmacy services to deliver medication management support services. We supply provider organizations and health systems with board-certified clinical pharmacists to assess patients, evaluate medication therapies, develop medication care plans, and handle follow-up and monitoring. These pharmacists use Cureatr’s Meds360 medication platform and become an extension of the care team to deliver comprehensive medication management that optimizes patient outcomes. Care is coordinated across providers and settings so patients are always getting the most from their medication regimens.
A Boost for Rural Areas and Independent Pharmacies
Telepharmacy can be a lifeline for hospitals in smaller and rural markets that need more pharmacists and technicians but can’t attract or retain them. It’s an effective way to incorporate pharmacists into the care team, without recruitment and turnover costs.
And telepharmacy solutions can be a welcome revenue stream for independent pharmacies, so many of which have closed or been challenged financially due to the growth of large retail chains and pharmacy benefit manager contracts. Clinical pharmacists offer comprehensive medication management services to individuals or on a contractual basis to hospitals and provider organizations anywhere. As long as the pharmacist has access to the patient’s medical record and a CPA with the provider organization, he or she can deliver these services (contingent upon state licensing and regulatory requirements).
In essence, telepharmacy can be deployed wherever there’s a need for a pharmacist, and where so often it’s hard to attract one full-time. Using a remote pharmacist and telepharmacy platform, one pharmacist can provide supervision and review prescriptions for multiple locations. Patients pick up medications from a nearby licensed location staffed by pharmaceutical technicians and staff.
One such innovative model is Indiana’s Pill Box Pharmacy, a local pharmacy counter and drive-thru window that are equipped with an iPad that connects to pharmacists 40 miles away. When a prescription is received or refilled, information is transmitted to those pharmacists, who check the technician's work. Customers can request to speak to a pharmacist at the drive-thru via videoconferencing that keeps conversations confidential. And pharmacy employees schedule a screen-to-screen telepharmacy visit between customer and pharmacist to review new prescriptions. Pill Box Pharmacy has two locations, in Albion and Warsaw.