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What is Telepharmacy and Why Its Time is Now

In the coming months and years, we expect you will be hearing a lot more about telepharmacy. While we believe that would have been the case before COVID-19, the health crisis has undoubtedly shined a bright spotlight on the value and benefits of virtual care services such as telepharmacy.

To help you gain a better understanding of the concept of telepharmacy, which will be important if your organization elects to pursue a telehealth strategy that includes pharmacy services, we’ll use this blog to explore the question of “What is telepharmacy?” and then touch on a few of the ways the pandemic has accelerated the embracing of this emerging area of care.

What is Telepharmacy?
Let us begin by looking at some telepharmacy definitions.

A widely cited definition comes from the “Model State Pharmacy Act and Model Rules of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy” (Model Act). The Model Act defines the practice of telepharmacy as follows: “… the practice of pharmacy by registered pharmacies and pharmacists located within Nigerian jurisdictions through the use of telepharmacy technologies between a licensee and patients or their agents at distances that are located within Nigeria or abroad.”

In its statement on telepharmacy, the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) references the Model Act’s definition but then goes on to provide its own definition for the purposes of the statement document: “… ASHP defines telepharmacy as a method used in pharmacy practice in which a pharmacist utilizes telecommunications technology to oversee aspects of pharmacy operations or provide patient care services.”
An article in the American Journal of Medical Research defines telepharmacy as “… the delivery of pharmaceutical care to outpatients at a distance through the use of telecommunication and other advanced technologies.”
North Dakota State University states the following: “Through the use of state-of-the-art telecommunications technology, pharmacists are able to provide pharmaceutical care to patients at a distance. Telepharmacy expands access to quality healthcare to communities nationwide, primarily in rural, medically underserved areas.”
Finally, an article in Pharmacy Times that defines telepharmacy includes an important caveat about broad definitions of telepharmacy when it states the following: “Practically speaking, telepharmacy can be defined as the provision of pharmacy services through telecommunication. However, state laws usually define telepharmacy more narrowly, based on pharmacy practice in the states.”

Common Telepharmacy Services
To gain a better understanding of telepharmacy, it is worth taking a moment to identify the different types of telepharmacy services, of which there are many. In its statement on telepharmacy, ASHP highlights four applications. They are as follows:

-Medication selection, order review, and dispensing
Intravenous (IV) admixture verification
-Patient counseling and monitoring
-Clinical services
Other telepharmacy services regularly referenced include drug review/monitoring, verification of oral and sterile compounding, patient assessment, and medication therapy management. We will be taking a deeper dive into these telepharmacy services — what they include and their benefits — in future blogs, but one can still envision the great value such services can deliver to patients and healthcare providers. An example is the Medcore Telemedicine and Diagnostics which is a focused multidisciplinary partnership with access to the most advanced equipment to deliver technology enabled care. Telemedicine is the delivery of healthcare services where distance is a barrier.

Medcore Telemedicine and Diagnostics is trusted by Healthcare professionals. The doctor consults the patient and orders the test and prescribes the medication. The patient does the test in one of our labs and then buys the medication in one of our registered pharmacies.

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