Regulations Governing Telepharmacy
Pharmacy trends indicate that telepharmacy is in an expansion mode that is expected to continue. This is especially true in rural areas, where telepharmacy provides remote access to pharmacy services for patients who often do not have a physical pharmacy in their geographical area. Telepharmacy also provides cost savings and operational efficiencies for brick and mortar pharmacies, whether they are retail or hospital-owned pharmacies.
North Dakota was the first state to enact telepharmacy regulations in 2001. By 2010, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Texas also enacted laws and regulations authorizing the use of telepharmacy services while Arkansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Utah and Washington approved the use of telepharmacy on a limited basis. Since that time, new state laws across the country have established rules and regulations regarding telepharmacy. Every state except Georgia and Michigan currently allow the use of telepharmacy services and remote pharmacists.
There is wide variation among state regulations pertaining to the setup and operation of telepharmacy services. Those regulations include geographic restrictions, facility limitations, and staffing and education requirements for telepharmacy operations.
Certain states, like Iowa, prohibit a telepharmacy site from being set up within a certain radius of existing pharmacies. An Iowa 2016 law states telepharmacy sites cannot be set up within 10 miles of a pharmacy. Montana requires a telepharmacy site to be beyond a 20-mile radius from an existing pharmacy in order to be licensed. Wyoming law calls for tele-pharmacies to must be at least 10 miles from an existing pharmacy. In South Dakota, applicants for a remote pharmacy site must demonstrate that there is limited or no access to pharmacy services in the community.
Some states impose limitations on the types of facilities that may be used as a remote pharmacy location while others do not. For instance, Texas restricts telepharmacy facilities to rural health clinics, health centers or healthcare facilities in medically underserved areas. These restrictions vary by state, and it is best to check with state Boards of Pharmacy for regulations pertaining to each individual state.
Staffing & Education Requirements
Several states impose restriction on remote pharmacy supervision, and states vary in their educational requirements for technicians working in remote telepharmacy sites. The state of Louisiana requires a Louisiana-licensed certified pharmacy technician with at least two years of experience and demonstrated proficiency in operating a telepharmacy program for a telepharmacy site located in that state. Many states also require a licensed pharmacist to review all first dose medication orders. Laws like these can create challenges, particularly for rural hospitals that may not have licensed pharmacists on duty 24/7 and are a key reason for the expansive growth of remote telepharmacy services.
Patient Demand for Technology
Like every industry, healthcare is undergoing a technology revolution, and pharmacies can benefit. More patients are becoming aware of and asking for these telepharmacy services – and not just in rural areas. Millennials are helping drive the use of technology in healthcare along with baby boomers, who are getting older and seeking new ways to plug into the convenience factor that comes with technological advances like telepharmacy.
Telepharmacy allows patients to access healthcare professionals indirectly and immediately. By offering telepharmacy services through partners like CPS Telepharmacy Solutions, hospitals can:
- Track and provide patient care 24/7;
- Document electronic health records to support quality of care and speed care delivery;
- Significantly reduce healthcare spending and 24/7 staffing costs while increasing efficiencies;
- See multiple patients in quick succession, answer their questions and schedule their medications for delivery over the phone or computer;
- Help expand pharmacist-patient communication;
- Help prevent medication errors.
For more information on how CPS Telepharmacy can reduce your pharmacy costs while improving efficiencies and care delivery, visit: CPS Telepharmacy Solutions.