HIPAA Compliant Telepharmacy
As a healthcare provider, you partner with and employ pharmacists for their in-depth knowledge of medications and disease states to ensure the overall wellbeing of patients and communities. So you know that pharmacist’s often take on a clinical role in patient care by delivering valuable education, counseling and guidance to patients, whether it’s in a hospital, retail pharmacy or community clinic environment.
Telepharmacy is a reliable and effective way for remote pharmacists to provide multiple aspects of clinical care such as improving patient access to health care, providing credible information and awareness, enabling successful comprehensive medication management, providing recommendations for symptom management, general patient counseling and helping to triage and refer patients to higher levels of care when diagnostic testing is warranted.
With patients reluctant or unable to interact with on-site pharmacists due to the Covid-19 pandemic, healthcare providers are quickly realizing the value of telepharmacy in improving patients’ lives and driving operational and business success in the current climate and well beyond the pandemic.
The benefits of telepharmacy for your facility
Telepharmacy, using a fully HIPAA-compliant, simple-to-use and cloud-based platform like HIPAA Video, can be an excellent way for hospitals, retail pharmacies and other healthcare providers to increase access and quality of clinical care, reduce operational costs, simplify workflow and operations, all while improving patient and community relationships in ways that weren’t possible before.
Broaden access to clinical pharmaceutical care in rural and underserved areas
Telepharmacy opens up access to clinical care for patients in remote and underserved areas who don’t have a pharmacy located near them or who live in “pharmacy deserts.” Pharmacists can employ telepharmacy to make sure that geographic distance from a pharmacy isn’t a barrier to receiving important medical guidance and that patients always have a resource to answer any questions and offer guidance and support to prevent medication errors. Using an easy-to-use telepharmacy video conferencing solution like HIPAA Video provides pharmacists with a reliable way to assure patients in hard-to-reach areas that they have full access to clinical pharmaceutical care.
Improve the health of specific communities with targeted education
Telepharmacy enables hospitals, healthcare systems and community clinics to identify and drive value to targeted populations through educational outreach, such as when a new drug that helps diabetes patients comes to market. Telepharmacy services not only give healthcare providers the ability to educate communities on specific health issues on a broader scale, but it can also help providers better leverage the expertise of pharmacists more efficiently than a traditional pharmacy. Actual pharmacists need not travel to specific communities when they can easily employ a robust telepharmacy solution like HIPAA Video to discuss the benefits of new drugs at scale and make populations feel comfortable adopting newer, cutting-edge medications. Hospitals can also use telepharmacy to deploy pharmacists to educate specific communities where abuse of prescription drugs might be an issue.
Make sure patients stick to medications
Telepharmacy grants pharmacists the ability to extend their services well beyond the constraints of their physical location, which means that patients who transition from hospital stays can rely on medication counseling at discharge and post-discharge follow-up calls from a clinical pharmacist. Telepharmacy allows pharmacists to remotely provide medication reconciliation to reduce drug interactions and duplicate therapies and ensure proper use of antibiotics and opiods to avoid abuse. This all results in overall better health outcomes, lower hospital readmissions, lower cost of care and increased patient satisfaction. Telepharmacy using a high-quality HIPAA-compliant video platform like HIPAA video is a great way for pharmacists to regularly remind patients of the benefits of taking their medications, which helps drive optimal patient results.
Supplement in-house pharmacist resourcing in a cost effective manner
Health systems and retail pharmacies without internal 24/7 pharmacy services face the challenge of affordably providing around-the-clock medication and safety practices. Many small–to–midsize hospitals have a hard time recruiting pharmacists to cover all shifts, especially during holidays, nights and weekends–as well as leaves of absence, vacation and personal leave, inclement weather and other emergencies. Telepharmacy allows these facilities to tap a broader network of pharmacists to outsource many clinical services in a manner that is more cost effective than recruiting on-site pharmacists. By delivering pharmacy consultations, medication verification and medication guidance remotely, telepharmacy can generate significant savings to a hospital or retail pharmacy.
Allocate pharmacists’ expertise to expanded clinical care
Pharmacists are valuable experts and hiring them simply to end up spending the bulk of their time filling prescriptions can end up being a costly waste of resources. Utilizing telepharmacy means that clinical pharmacy specialists can use videoconferencing to remotely manage patients with chronic diseases while providing real time medication support. This care delivery model allows more patients to receive pharmaceutical services in a cost-efficient manner. Telepharmacy also provides access to clinical pharmacists to facilitate a more holistic care approach to patient care. For large hospitals or health systems, telepharmacy can also free up pharmacists’ time to focus on new technology implementations or other broader initiatives.
Implement better medication management between primary care visits
Telepharmacy allows clinical pharmacy technicians to follow up directly with patients in between primary care visits and manage medications for patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and chronic pain with a simple video call. Additionally, clinical pharmacists can use telepharmacy to offset the workload of the primary care team by addressing some of the most pressing needs of high risk patients.
Easily involve caregivers to ensure proper medicine adherence
Its not unusual for caregivers to be significantly involved in making sure patients are diligent about taking their medications. Telepharmacy offers caregivers the opportunity to be present on clinical care sessions and work with pharmacists to understand how to properly administer medicine to the patient. Platforms like HIPAA Video that offer powerful videoconferencing features allow telepharmacy sessions to be recorded so that any caregiver can access sessions and refer back to important counseling and tips. Caregivers can see session notes, schedules and medicine plans and videos can also be referenced in the future.
Offer pharmacists the freedom to practice remotely
While different states have different rules when it comes to how broadly telepharmacy can be used, health providers can use telepharmacy to provide their staff with a much greater degree of freedom to practice remotely. Pharmacists, specifically those who focus on clinical services like counseling and education would no longer need to restrict where they live in their state based on proximity to physical pharmacy locations and can choose to work from any preferred environment. HIPAA Video’s simple-to-adopt platform ensures that pharmacists can deliver these services seamlessly to patients with all different kinds of needs.
Avoid scheduling mishaps and no-shows
With the expanded use of telepharmacy technologies for clinical care, pharmacists need to run a tighter ship when it comes to appointments and reducing scheduling mishaps as an important way to ensure operations run smoothly and patients maintain strict medication adherence. HIPAA Video helps pharmacists avoid scheduling headaches by providing integrated calendar tools that help with accurate scheduling and automatic appointment reminders, both of which reduce no-shows by up to 30%.
Use videoconferencing capabilities to drive overall operational efficiency
Telepharmacy shouldn’t complicate the day-to-day operations of a pharmacy, whether you’re an in-house hospital pharmacy or a retail pharmacy. The right telepharmacy platform will provide easy-to-use features that seamlessly integrate into existing telepharmacy software tools and workflows. HIPAA Video integrates (via API) with EMR/EHR (Electronic Medical Records) and popular practice management software so you can add HIPAA compliant telehealth easily to your existing telepharmacy and office management platform(s).
What are the benefits of telepharmacy for patients?
Sticking to important medications on a regular basis can feel daunting to patients, particularly for those who suffer from chronic conditions. The last thing you want to do is add complexity to their lives by deciding to use a complicated telepharmacy solution. HIPAA Video provides many benefits to patients by removing any additional burdens for the patient that might get in the way of progress through a platform that everyone, no matter how tech savvy, will find easy to use.
Greater access to a pharmaceutical clinical counseling and guidance
Telepharmacy can be a dream come true for patients who live in less populated areas or “pharmacy deserts”, who don’t have easy access to on-site pharmacists. Telepharmacy opens up greater access to pharmacists who can provide counseling and education on medications as well as highly specialized pharmacists who may otherwise be inaccessible due to geography. Patients can also remain in the comfort of their own home or any other environment they choose so long as they have their preferred device handy.
Ensure more patient privacy
As a patient, it is completely reasonable to expect privacy when it comes to discussing medications and receiving healthcare guidance and education. Many on-site pharmaceutical environments, particularly retail pharmacies and community clinics, may not offer a private space to have sensitive discussions around medicines or proper ways to to administer them. Telepharmacy is a great way to ensure more privacy for patients when it comes to these sensitive discussions. Using a simple telepharmacy interface like HIPAA Video, patients can hold remote appointments with pharmacists from the comfort of their own home using any device that’s convenient. The more patients feel comfortable asking questions, the greater likelihood they’ll stick to their medications.
Better support from caregivers
Telepharmacy also provides a seamless way to involve caregivers into discussions around medications. Similar to patients,caregivers can receive real-time feedback from pharmacists so they can help support the patient in the best, most realistic way possible. Patients can feel confident that they are on the same page with their caregivers by being able to include them in telepharmacy sessions.
Protection during the Covid-19 pandemic
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced patients to balance their healthcare needs with the need to stay safe and socially distant. HIPAA Video’s cloud-based telepharmacy solution provides a simple interface that requires no training or downloads and works with any device and operating system, so patients can easily adopt telepharmacy without any headaches.
What are the challenges of telepharmacy?
Results of randomized controlled trials indicate high client acceptance and positive outcomes with this method of delivering telepharmacy. Nonetheless, pharmacists wishing to deliver care by telemedicine face a number of challenges.
Lack of privacy in certain environments
In these situations, patients may end up logging into telepharmacy sessions from locations with poor internet signals such as their cars, garages, outdoor decks and patios which can result in choppy or dropped sessions. For these clients, pharmacists can open up extended telepharmacy hours, providing patients with the option to schedule their appointments during “off” hours that allow for more privacy with access to a strong internet signal.
Common telepharmacy FAQs
Not all states allow telepharmacy and even in states that do, they seem to have had different rules around telepharmacy prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Has the pandemic changed any of those rules and how might it affect my ability to adopt telepharmacy?
So far, 24 states have implemented regulations permitting the practice of telepharmacy in order to expand pharmacy services to underserved areas. Telepharmacy is becoming more widespread as the safety and benefits of the practice are realized, and many of the 26 states that do not permit the practice today look to implement favorable telepharmacy language in the near future. Although telepharmacy has been proven to benefit pharmacies and patients across the country, regulations for both practices are still restrictive in many states.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in mid-March, many states have issued waivers or otherwise amended regulations to permit the use of remote processing or telepharmacy to oversee a wide range of pharmacy operations. As the regulations are changing daily, please consult your state’s board of pharmacy website for the details on the current status in your area.
I’ve never done telepharmacy and I’m worried about coming across as cold through a screen. Do you have any tips?
Many pharmacists are finding that they need to improve their “webside manner” as they turn toward telepharmacy. While speaking through a screen can’t ever replicate in-person interactions, there are certain basic tips to consider as you begin to conduct telepharmacy sessions with patients.
- Practice in front of the web camera: Speaking to a camera doesn’t come naturally to everyone. You might find it helpful to have a few practice sessions to get used to being on camera before fully diving into telepharmacy. As a pharmacist, you might focus your practice on making sure your hands are closer to the camera so that you can clearly demonstrate how to administer certain medications such as injections.
- Pay even more attention to eye contact: It’s easy to get distracted
when you’re sitting in front of your computer so it’s even more important
that you pay attention to maintaining eye contact when speaking and
listening through the computer camera.
- Maintain the right environment: You’ve put effort into making your physical office a safe, comfortable and relaxing space for your patients. Take the same approach with your teletherapy location. Maintain a background that is professional, uncluttered and calm and keep yourself well-lit and visible during sessions.
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