Insights - Article

Telehealth Pharmacy: The Promise of Telehealth

Telehealth is a hot topic these days at health conferences and board meetings. It’s cutting edge, exciting, and has the potential to transform the way medicine is practiced. Clinical practitioners have passionate opinions on the subject, both for and against.

For many hospital executives, that’s starting to sound a little too much like EHRs 10 years ago.

No one wants to risk the massive costs and disruptions that many EHR deployments caused.

telehealth pharmacy - telepharmacy

This is not an EHR Rerun

Don’t panic! There are some crucial differences that can make telehealth a much less risky and complex project compared to EHRs.

First, telehealth does not have to be all or nothing. Rather than a single monolithic deployment, telehealth allows for getting started with just one or two departments. After integrating those systems and workflows into your hospitals, one can utilize the lessons learned for the next project.

Second, rather than requiring a rip and replace of previous systems and procedures, Telehealth offers the opportunity for new technology to complement existing workflows and get more value out of EHR systems.

With this in mind, we believe that the best place to start (or expand) your telehealth efforts is in your pharmacy.

Start Telehealth with your Pharmacy

Why initiate your telehealth initiative with the pharmacy? Pharmacy is the common denominator for key initiatives such as population health, bundled payments, medication adherence, antibiotic usage and opioid surveillance. As such, it is critical to ensure the success of these programs.

What’s more, the well-defined and limited scope of pharmacy means a fast start and solid footing:

Quick ROI

Clinical pharmacists are both highly paid and frequently either overworked or underutilized. Telepharmacy allows hospitals to consolidate their pharmacy resources and smooth out those peaks and valleys with in-house staff covering multiple locations. This can lead to significant cost savings for multi-facility organizations… often shaving off or redeploying 25-30% of labor costs while increasing coverage and decreasing average response times and variability.

This result is increased quality of care … and significant savings in operational costs.


Contained and Manageable Scope

Given that most clinical pharmacies are located in a specific area of the hospital such as the basement, from a practical perspective, telepharmacy brings absolutely no workflow changes for physicians and nurses. They literally can’t tell the difference other than seeing more consistent and faster medication review turnaround times.

The compartmentalization of pharmacy departments from the rest of the hospital makes it relatively easy to bring the relevant stakeholders to the table and come to agreement.

Fast Deployment

Many IT-centric projects require significant planning and resources. PipelineRx uses a modular HIPAA-compliant cloud-based architecture, which means there’s no hardware hassles. It’s also interoperable with every major EHR and pharmacy management system out of the box and can be quickly customized to work with smaller systems.

In other words, you can get PipelineRx up and running quickly.

The PipelineRx software was built by pharmacists for pharmacists with an intuitive UI, so pharmacist training is straightforward.

Stable regulatory environment

Telepharmacy is well-accepted at the regulatory level. At the time of this writing, all 50 states have regulations or guidelines in place that allow for clinical telepharmacy.

Increased Quality and Nursing Satisfaction

And finally, improving pharmacy performance has a direct-line impact on nursing workflow. In fact, PipelineRx customers who have utilized telepharmacy to increase coverage and smooth out demand have seen noteworthy increases in nursing satisfaction.

According to a third-party study, hospitals saw an average of 10 percent increase in overall nursing satisfaction following the implementation of PipelineRx’s telepharmacy services.[1]

Increased nursing satisfaction, in turn, has been directly linked to increased patient satisfaction, improved quality of care, and lowered nursing turnover. [2]

Bottom Line: The Pharmacy is the Place to Start with Telemedicine

Telepharmacy makes an ideal early project for telemedicine as it is blessed with both solid technology and a stable regulatory environment. It offers meaningful clinical improvements, measurable savings on operating costs, and rapid deployment.

In other words, Telepharmacy is an easy win. How many of those does one get in healthcare?

telehealth pharmacy - eBookWant to learn more?

Download our 16-page eBook: Telemedicine Begins with Your Pharmacy.

[1] Study conducted in 2011 by Philip J. Schneider, MS, FASHP, FASPEN, FFIP, Professor and Associate Dean, University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and ASHP Past-President. Based on three (3) client sites.

[2] Berkowitz, B. (January 31, 2016) “The Patient Experience and Patient Satisfaction: Measurement of a Complex Dynamic,” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, Vol. 21, No. 1, Manuscript 1.