Telepharmacy 101: A Beginner's Guide to Remote Dispensing in Retail Pharmacy
Remote dispensing is a somewhat new concept in community pharmacy. Even so, independent pharmacy owners across the country are using telepharmacy software to serve new patients in rural and urban communities, expand their pharmacy footprint and improve financial performance.
But how does remote dispensing work?
What does the physical workflow look like in a telepharmacy? And what are the benefits of a remote-dispensing site?
Whatever your questions may be, we’re glad you’re here! This FAQ-style article can help you discern how remote dispensing works. If you have a question that isn't covered, please submit it to us on our contact us page, and we’ll respond as soon as we can.
When I hear telepharmacy, I think inpatient telepharmacy.
There’s more than just inpatient telepharmacy?
Telepharmacy is feasible in all types of healthcare organizations including retail pharmacy, health systems, clinics, nursing homes, mental health facilities and other medical-care centers. There are four different types of telepharmacy, but this article is focused on the retail application of remote dispensing.
What is remote dispensing?
Remote dispensing allows patients to receive prescription medication from a licensed brick-and-mortar pharmacy without a pharmacist on-site. Certified pharmacy technicians manage the telepharmacy site while the pharmacist provides virtual supervision. Through telepharmacy software, a pharmacist reviews prescriptions and counsels patients from a remote location. Imagine a traditional pharmacy, just with a virtual pharmacist on-site
What does a modern telepharmacy network look like?
Are you familiar with the hub-and-spoke distribution model? A telepharmacy system operates in the exact same manner. A remote-dispensing site represents the spoke while the verification site, or main pharmacy, represents the hub. The hub-and-spoke model allows pharmacy owners to open one or many remote-dispensing sites. Additionally, pharmacists can review prescriptions for one or multiple telepharmacies with our remote-dispensing software.
What does the workflow look like at a remote-dispensing site?
Here’s what the telepharmacy workflow looks like in four simple steps:
Like a traditional pharmacy, prescriptions arrive at a telepharmacy through the pharmacy management system (PMS). Remote-dispensing software integrates with your current PMS for a seamless, real-time experience.
In a telepharmacy, the pharmacy technician prepares the prescription for dispensing. They capture and send images of the script, medication label, pills and medication bottle to the remote pharmacist for review.
The pharmacist reviews the prescription by checking the images sent over by the technician. They also reference the patient’s medication profile for drug interactions and other potential problems. If approved, the technician places the medication in will-call.
The patient can speak with the pharmacist via interactive video counseling once they pick up their medication. The remote pharmacist has all necessary patient information, including medication history, available during counseling.
What is live-video counseling?
Live-video counseling is an interactive patient-counseling session performed by the remote pharmacist. Although a pharmacist is not on location with the patient, they are able to counsel them via secure, HIPAA-compliant video technology. Patients can also ask the pharmacist questions at a telepharmacy by using the live-video counseling feature.
What are the benefits of a remote-dispensing site?
Remote dispensing helps pharmacies improve financial performance by sharing a pharmacist across multiple locations. When located in or near a clinic, remote-dispensing sites can help improve medication adherence.
Telepharmacies can also help reduce readmission rates for patients located in underserved areas.
In the retail pharmacy setting, is telepharmacy allowed everywhere?
Telepharmacy laws and regulations are unique to each setting and each individual state. Every State Board of Pharmacy develops its own language specific to telepharmacy rules. If you're interested, we've got more information on telepharmacy regulations.
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