What is Telepharmacy?
Telepharmacy is considered to be a way of delivering pharmaceutical products and care by the means of telecommunication to different patients. This way patients can receive their medicines and other pharmaceutical care items in the comfort of where they can get the services easy. Some of the services given are patient counseling, drug therapy monitoring, and refill authorization for the prescribed drugs, monitoring or formulary compliance by the means of videoconferencing or teleconferencing and prior authorization of prescribed drugs. Other services are taking medicines to remote places and also labeling the systems. These services can be given at your retail pharmacy places or even through the nursing homes, hospitals, and other medical facilities.
The word can also mean using videoconferencing in the pharmacy world to give other services like training, education, and also management services to the pharmacists.
Benefits And Disadvantages
One major benefit is that many areas especially the remote ones that have no access to pharmaceutical care or pharmacist will enjoy the services due to the introduction of these services. Telepharmacy is one way that many people living in remote areas will enjoy especially if they are unable to get basic experts in the pharmacy care thus reducing the cost of traveling to other places for the same services. Patients are also counseled, and drug administering is monitored from time to time thus ensuring the medicines are taking place. Any facility near the point of services delivery will benefit by getting other pharmacists thus minimizing the cost of hiring full-time employee.
Due to the demand of delivering the services, sometimes it may be hard to get someone qualified to transmit the needed information thoroughly. This prompt to an error made when giving the services to the locals since they will only get someone with less knowledge on the job. Many patients will not receive the required information thus hindering them understanding more on the health related issues.
To implement these ideas, it will depend on the economic situation and geographical laws and the regulations needed in that location.
In Australia, telepharmacy is taking place, and this has been the case with the Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service from 1942. Some medical chests with equipment and medications are put in the remote communities, and they are able to receive drugs and consultations through telehealth. By the year 2006, there were about 3,500 chests distributed. Telehealth consultations of about 21,470 were reported in Queensland within one year and out of this 13.7% were administered with medications from the medical chest. Some of the medicines given are analgesics, antibiotics, and the gastrointestinal medications. It helps the patients to receive the medication from their remote areas thus saving some good money.
Another use of the telepharmacy in Queensland is the need of pharmaceutical reviews in remote hospitals that do not have pharmacists. Although the use of these services could ease the lack of pharmacists in Australia, it is noted that the idea is not well welcomed because there are now more doctors, nurses and other medical care providers giving the services to the rural patients.
Its implementation stated at the beginning of the year 2000. There are several factors that led to this which includes the country recession in the year 2007 to 2008 and also the reimbursement on Medicare. Due to the lack of pharmacists in most of the Northwestern and Midwestern states, the leaders have noted the need to start implementing the telepharmacy. This is because of the lack of medical expertise and medications in their area.
In the year 2001 North Dakota was one of the first of U, S states that passed the law that allows the retail pharmacies in providing services even without the need of being physically present. By the following year, more grants and state agencies came up with the North Dakota Telepharmacy Project that has now more than 50 hospital pharmacy and remote retail throughout the region. Through the project, the pharmacist can use videoconferencing to communicate with patients and other medical caregivers. In 2004, there is a study that showed that patients received similar quality services as from the traditional method. The remote sites also recorded a higher profit than in the previous years before the implementation of the project. Many citizens will testify that this was a good idea to help the community to get services from their location without the need of traveling to major cities.
In Spokane Washington, there is a network started in 2001 and is called the Community Health Association of Spokane. The project is aimed at providing medical care and medication to 6 different locations within remote and urban clinics by the use of videoconference that is put at the site of the pharmacists. Many people that received the services believe that this is one of the things that made sense in their right to achieving proper medications.
Another state that is enjoying the program is Alaska through the Alaska Native Medical Center that helps the Alaska Natives to receive the medications. It started in the year 2003 to the remote areas of Alaska. It received an Award for Excellence in Medication –Use Safety from the American Society of Health –System Pharmacists in 2006 showing the implementation of the project is proving to be a noble idea.
One of the most used places is in the U.S Navy Bureau of Medicine because they have seen the need to use the telepharmacy services. When it started in the year 2006 at the Naval Hospital Pensacola situated in Florida and the Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington, the Navy found that it needed to expand the program to its other sites in the world. It is considered to be the largest implementation since it started.
In California, the state passed the Telehealth Advancement Act in the year 2011 to give true meaning of the telehealth services. The law is clear on how the telehealth should work out so as to benefit the rural people. In Iowa, the first telepharmacy was opened in the month of September year 2012, and this was according to the Iowa Board of Pharmacy recommendations.
In 2010, there is a study that showed that many American state’s remote health facilitators noticed that was a major disagreement on the occurrence of the telepharmacy. Many states did not understand much about the laws needed to govern the implementation of telepharmacy in different hospitals. The implementation and coming up with ways to start the project have been slow as compared with other technology needed to make it function. The use of the internet, audio, and video conferencing, videos and cameras and the microphones are now modernized by they have not been used when in implementing the project. Another major challenge on the project is the thought of the pharmacist working with patients that the cannot touch physically, and this has hinders the function of the project in some medical care facilities. Putting up the system to support the network and the data is also another factor that has contributed to the delay of this program. As in the year 2010, many pharmacists did not have clear information about what the law says regarding the project. Man hospitals could not start with the project because they feared being on the wrong side of the law due poor guidelines on the law needed in the project. Securing the data from the patients and other medications is not that easy, and the cost is not as cheap as it may seem to be and this has prompted to the delay of this project in some hospitals. Remember it is required that the data should be stored according to the HIPAA and some other privacy regulations for the patients. In North Dakota in the year 2010 the North Dakota Telepharmacy Project, it was estimated that installing the computer hardware needed about US$17,300 in each site and another US$5,000 needed to purchase a portable cart that will be used for hospital installation.
Due to a national lack of pharmacist, the Canada government adopted the project to make it up to the loss specialist. In June year 2003, one hospital in Cranbrook, British Columbia became the first Canadian hospital to implement the project. One pharmacist discovered the need of using the telepharmacy, and this is how people found it to be appropriate to care for the needs of people that are not able to reach hospitals and other pharmacies. Due to this discovering, other small hospital benefited from the program and many people became aware of it. Delivering of medical machines started in Ontario Canada in the year 2007. When the service is used, the patients is given the chance to put the drug prescriptions into dispensing machine where it is scanned and from here they are connected with the pharmacist through videoconference system. This is where the patients will get to know more about its medication and how to administer the drug. By 2009, one hospital in Ontario Canada continued to use the telepharmacy by placing one pharmacist that is able to serve many patients situated in remote sites straight from the hospital. The availability of the onsite pharmacy is good because patients will understand better the usage of their medication.
After benefits patients in Canada especially in remote areas, more machines were placed to see if they would work in other areas like the U.K started its project in the year 2010. In the year 2013, the Maxor National Pharmacy Services which is a U.S company gave a report how other countries like the Belgium, England, Cuba, Guam, Germany, Japan, Italy, Venezuela, Spain and Bahrain started using the remote dispensing machines.
In Hong Kong, the Manning drugstores were the first company to use the videoconferences when dealing with their patients. This was in the year 2010, and they have seen the need of putting onsite pharmacists. This has seen advancement in health care field.