Telepharmacy in a Pandemic 

Telepharmacy in a Pandemic 

As crucial as access to a health care provider is, so is the process of getting medication — and perhaps all the more crucial during a pandemic. Like doctors, pharmacists also turned to and depended on remote communication with patients to address their medication needs. This practice of telepharmacy put a spotlight on the need for effective and secure means to engage patients, including for staying connected with a pharmacist and continuing mail order medications. LifeWIRE has played an important role in answering this need. 


The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) defines telepharmacy as the use of technology to perform pharmacy operations or provide patient-care services. “Telepharmacy operations and services may include, but are not limited to, drug review and monitoring, dispensing, sterile and nonsterile compounding verification, medication therapy management (MTM), patient assessment, patient counseling, clinical consultation, outcomes assessment, decision support, and drug information.”  


During the pandemic, many of these pharma-related services moved toward automation or remote management or both. These changes enhanced efficiency in pharmacy facilities' workflows while keeping patients and pharmacists apart, thus safer. These changes helped slow down transmission, a key goal of the government-level response against COVID-19.  


Telepharmacy reduced the burden on the health care system and improved drug dispensing safety in community pharmacies. A pharmacy-specific study, “Evaluation of Telepharmacy Services in Light of COVID-19,” was published in the NIH National Center of Biotechnology Information. 


Telepharmacy increased access by patients to pharmaceutical care and reduced the risk of dispensing errors in community pharmacies. The use of telecommunication technologies enables pharmacists to supervise and and interact with patients remotely for oversight of drug therapy management, adherence, compliance, inventory, and controlled substances.  


That all said, it is one thing to have the technology for telepharmacy, but the successful delivery of telepharmacy means that it engages patients to be involved in the process. While respecting patient privacy and ensuring security, LifeWIRE’s HITRUST-certified patient engagement platform has proven its versatility in providing medication management solutions: Patients not only continue to receive their prescription meds but also have an expanded access to resources that their pharmacy group can offer via the platform. Immediate, automated, interactive dialogue is accessible in any manner the patient wants, which helps ensure ongoing engagement without the barriers of an app.   


As part of enhancing medication adherence for the benefit of the patient, the core value to patients is how LifeWIRE's approach simplifies ways to communicate with the pharmacy group: anytime, anywhere, and on any device of the patient's choice, however they want to engage, such as with text, email, interactive voice, IM, or Chat. This approach facilitates both requests for refill orders from patients as well as educating patients about the proper use of their medications.  


In addition to delivering value to the patient, LifeWIRE collects and feeds validated and structured data, using client pharmacies' protocols to record and monitor medication dispensing and administration. This backend value improves the quality and safety of the medication process, which, in turn, improves patient care.  


Specific examples of the LifeWIRE communication platform's current utilization include refilling prescriptions, initiating refill requests from providers, and helping to manage payment issues cost-effectively. Offloading this work from call centers means moving from high-cost assets to lower-cost resources. 


Client-reported use cases of LifeWIRE have shown lower costs, increased staff resource efficiency, and a higher rate of completion for first attempts contacting patients.   


As an example, here is a look at RxOutreach, a fully licensed, nonprofit mail-order pharmacy that increased its efficiency by offloading its call center to LifeWIRE's platform. 


With the expansion of telepharmacy, ASHP maintains that “the security and integrity of patient data is of paramount importance when determining the information technology setup of a telepharmacy system." HIPAA/HITECH regulations and HITRUST directives apply to telepharmacy, to ensure secure access to patient records and electronic files and to provide secure consultations through encrypted technology. 


This is what makes LifeWIRE a cut above: Its patient-engagement/communication platform is HIPAA-compliant and HITRUST-certified. Whether or when pandemic-based security/privacy rules are relaxed, this depth of security is how telepharmacy should be delivered. LifeWIRE never cuts corners. #BeLifeWIREd  


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