Telepharmacy is saving small rural hospitals big money combined with top notch 24/7 service.
Telemedicine services are on the rise among small and rural hospitals. In mid-December, for instance, NewYork-Presbyterian forged a pact to provide emergency physicians via Walgreens in-store kiosks. Last year, Cleveland Clinic inked an arrangement with CVS to use American Well’s telemedicine platform to make clinicians accessible for visits from CVS Minute Clinics in Ohio.
And telepharmacy has become its own specialty among tech vendors, including CPS TELEpharmacy, eVisit, PipelineRx, ScriptPro Telepharmacy and TelePharm.
Telepharmacy: Rural Hospital Case History
Grand River clinicians use PipelineRx to connect with remote pharmacists who verify orders and handle clinician questions. Afterwards, an automatic dispensing machine gives out the medications.
Nancy McClew, PharmD, director of pharmacy at Grand River Hospital and Medical Center, said the investment in the telemedicine technology is well worth it compared with the cost of staffing the pharmacy 24/7.
Here’s how it works: staff scan a paper medication order over to remote pharmacists dedicated to the hospital through the tele-pharmacy system from PipelineRx. The remote pharmacist obtains the order from a work queue for the hospital, giving the tele-pharmacist access to the Grand River electronic pharmacy system.
From there, they verify the order. After verification, the patient’s medication record is updated electronically and the system sends an order via electronic interface to an automated dispensing cabinet. At the cabinet, a medication label is generated to the nursing unit. From there, the RN adds the medication label to the patient’s paper medication administration record.
Approximately 95 percent of the medications delivered via the telepharmacy program are located in the dispensing machine. When prescriptions are not available that way, a charge RN obtains them from the pharmacy.
Telepharmacy: Rural Hospitals, Nursing Facilities To Gain
Grand River is by no means alone among small and rural hospitals tapping into telehealth tools for a range of services, including pharmacy.
HIMSS Analytics researchers, in fact, asked executives ahead of a free December webinar what IT initiatives topped their priority lists. No surprise: 55.2 percent said telemedicine, followed by security (47.9 percent), business continuity and disaster recovery (43.8 percent), and physician satisfaction (41.7 percent).
2018 should be a boon year for telepharmacy and telemedicine.