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PTCB: Telepharmacy extends reach of Rx services
May 18th, 2012
WASHINGTON – Telepharmacy is enabling pharmacies to reach more patients with their services, improve medication safety and ease staffing shortages at many rural health care and emergency facilities nationwide, according to the Pharmacy Technican Certification Board (PTCB).
PTCB said Thursday that, via state-of-the-art telecommunications technology, a pharmacist can remotely supervise — in real time — a pharmacy technician preparing prescriptions.
"Telepharmacy expands patient access to pharmacy consultations and vital health care services in rural and medically underserved areas," explained Everett McAllister, executive director and chief executive officer of PTCB. "PTCB-certified pharmacy technicians play a significant role in this safe and cost-effective alternative, providing patients with maximum coverage."
For example, PTCB said, the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy recently adopted regulations allowing a Kansas-licensed pharmacist to electronically supervise a pharmacy technician or pharmacy student in a licensed pharmacy at a medical facility in the state. Remotely supervised pharmacy technicians in such facilities perform typical duties, such as reviewing cart fills and filling automated dispensing cabinets with an off-site pharmacist observing the procedures through a real-time audio, video or computer connection.
"Pharmacy technicians who are appropriately trained and credentialed are being used in innovative practice models, which allows us to expand pharmacy services to underserved areas and enhance patient care throughout Montana," according to Ronald Klein, executive director of the Montana State Board of Pharmacy. "The use of pharmacy technicians allows the pharmacist to spend more time with the patient providing drug information, answering questions and promoting compliance with the drug regimen."
The need for telepharmacy services, PTCB noted, is addressed in Joint Commission standards and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) Model Practice Act, as well as by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
State boards of pharmacy in North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, Texas, Idaho, Utah, Kansas and Hawaii have adopted telepharmacy regulations, while regulations are pending in New York, PTCB reported. The capacity in which a pharmacy technician may participate in a telepharmacy model differs from state to state, with some requiring registration with a state board of pharmacy, a minimum period of work experience and/or certification through a board-approved program.
"Certification provides the public and pharmacists with additional assurance and confidence in their pharmacy provider regardless of their proximity to the pharmacy," Klein added.