Sunday, August 7

Innovations in Health Technology - Telepharmacy for Rural Hospitals

Via Christi Health, a nonprofit health delivery network that operates hospitals in urban and rural parts of Kansas, began a Telepharmacy program in 2006 to strengthen the role hospital pharmacists play in clinical care.

Many hospitals, especially those in rural areas, are unable to provide full-time pharmacy coverage which can have a negative impact in the quality and safety of patient care. Via Christi created a program that was available to provide optimalpharmacy coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week to those hospitals who
need it.

The Telepharmacy program, now in 14 hospitals both inside and outsidethe Via Christi System, allows offsite pharmacists to review medication orders and patient medical records through a secured electronic network.

Once the remote pharmacist checks all relevant medical information, such as patient’s medical history, any allergies in recent lab results, they then authorize the hospital’s pharmacy system to dispense the correct medication to the patient.

The electronic record that is created also allows the nurse to scan the medication barcode at the patient’s bedside when they administer the dose to the patient.Results have been positive.

A study conducted at five hospitals in 2009 found that the program expanded hours of pharmacy services, reduced processing time, increased nurse satisfaction, freed up time for pharmacists to play a direct role in clinical care, and saved each hospital a projected $1 million a year.

A program that’s using pharmacist and technology to increase patient safety, reduce cost, enhance the quality of patient care and highlight the positive impact of health information technology, now that’s a bright idea.

From the Conversation on Healthcare

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