This article reveals how a few of our clients have used telepharmacy as a strategic resource to achieve their clinical and financial goals. For more detailed information on the benefits of implementing telepharmacy in single-facility hospitals see part one, or for multi-facility organizations, see part two .
Telepharmacy is helping organizations across the country transform their pharmacy operations and amplify their impact on patient care. Let’s take a look at some successful real-world implementations.
Quick Review: What is telepharmacy?
Telepharmacy is defined as providing pharmacy services remotely using telecommunications technologies. It can be used:
- In standalone hospitals to cost-effectively supplement in-house coverage during daily fluctuations in demand, to extend coverage to 24/7, or for scheduled or emergency coverage.
- Within multi-facility hospital systems to centralize the workflow of disparate pharmacists into a single, highly-flexible, virtual pool. This provides the organization with increased pharmacy flexibility, lower costs, and extended capabilities.
- In any hospital setting to free up more pharmacy resources for high-value clinical initiatives in order to meet regulatory requirements, improve outcomes and reduce costs.
Real-World Telepharmacy Use Cases
Rome Memorial Hospital: Becoming an Integral Part of the Clinical Care Team
When Rome Memorial Hospital implemented a new EHR, it gave them the opportunity to rethink their pharmacy operations in order to deliver greater impact on patient care.
Instead of hiring more staff to meet the 24/7 requirement, Director of Pharmacy Scott Burns turned to telepharmacy to cost-effectively extend coverage exactly when they needed it. But it was when the in-house team adopted the cloud-based software and workflow that that the telepharmacists were using, that they began working as a single cohesive team.
The new operations produced significant workflow improvements that also streamlined processes for nursing and had the tangible impact on patient care they aspired to, including:
- Increased HCAHPS scores
- Decreased turnaround times and improved collaboration with nurses
- Participation on care teams through a decentralized model
- Enhanced clinical programs such as ASP, and a new contract pharmacy
- Reduced cost per discharge and reduced readmissions
Telepharmacy allowed Rome Memorial to improve pharmacy-nursing collaboration and deliver greater clinical impact.
Ohio Valley Hospital: Improving Medication Safety
Ohio Valley was looking for ways to improve medication safety. Having no pharmacists working the night hours at this 124-bed not-for-profit hospital had resulted in hundreds of medication cabinet overrides per month, causing serious concerns. What’s more, the daytime pharmacists were coming in early to manage the overrides and catch up on overnight orders, and starting the day behind schedule.
Director of Pharmacy Michael Nan considered hiring additional staff, but that just wasn’t a viable solution for this low-volume time period. He turned to telepharmacy and per-order pricing as the most cost-effective solution. However, it wasn’t until the dedicated client team was trained on their policies and procedures and became a trusted partner that they realized the full impact telepharmacy was having on improving quality and safety.
This solution ultimately got Michael Nan a “seat at the table” with the P&T Committee by delivering:
- 24/7 coverage and availability to address nursing questions on dosing, etc.
- 85% decrease in medication cabinet overrides
- Three new clinical initiatives, including MedRec, ASP, and renal dosing
- 50% savings on FTE staffing
- Patient continuity through streamlined shift changes
Using Telepharmacy allowed Ohio Valley hospital to make a bigger impact on patient care without the bigger budget.
Cape Regional Medical Center: Deliver Discharge Counseling without Adding Staff
The Pharmacy team at Cape Regional Medical Center (CRMC) had a goal to increase discharge counseling in an effort to reduce patient readmissions.
After rearranging schedules to assign staff to this activity, Director of Pharmacy Services Richard Artymowicz discovered they had a gap in pharmacy coverage during the swing shift. Although it was only four hours, this time period had high variability in terms of medication order volume and needs. It was essential that they cover that time, but hiring an additional employee wasn’t financially viable.
To fix their coverage gap, CRMC turned to telepharmacy to share the daytime workload and free up time for discharge counseling and other initiatives. In the end, CRMC was able to:
- Create a shared order queue for onsite and remote pharmacists
- Fill the gap in pharmacy coverage that arose after they added a new clinical goal
- Speed up medication order review for the ED
- Supplement staff during order surges “on demand”
- Enable onsite teams to grow their clinical skills
Telepharmacy allowed CRMC to achieve their goal of increasing discharge counseling to reduce readmission rates.