This year at the 2014 FIP (International Pharmaceutical Federation) World Congress in Bangkok, ScriptPro CEO Mike Coughlin presented important information regarding accessibility to pharmacists, and why it is so critical that pharmacists be available to patients at all times.
Mike presents solutions on how we can utilize technology to connect pharmacists to patients at critical times to ensure the best outcome for the patient. The theme of the 2014 Congress was, “Access to Medicines and Pharmacists Today – Better Outcomes Tomorrow.” Mike spoke at the session titled, “Are Pharmacists Really Accessible?”
According to Mike, pharmacists are extremely important in the realm of healthcare. They are experts on medication and are needed to guide patients and other medical professionals in safe and effective medication use.
Mike also maintains that pharmacists are caretakers who safeguard drug supplies and make sure drugs are readily available to the general public. They account for drug inventories, guard against misuse, maintain patient medication profiles, and see that accurate records are maintained by checking expiration dates, and checking for recalls among other responsibilities. They are also honest, impartial advisors who want to help the patient understand the medication, and in some cases can help the patient access financial assistance programs. Pharmacists are truly indispensable in our health system.
There may be times when pharmacists are not easily reached – times when a patient cannot wait until the pharmacist is back in the office.
One solution to giving patients access to pharmacists at all times is telepharmacy. When the U.S. Navy was trying to solve the problem of sailors not having enough access to the pharmacy care they needed, Mike was asked to join in a meeting with the Navy Surgeon General team to help resolve the issue. Mike recalls that one of the problems at hand was the fact that the entire Navy only had 26 pharmacists available to them! Mike proposed telepharmacy and the Navy decided to go forward with an initiative modeled on Mike’s suggestion – TRDVS (Telepharmacy Remote Dispensing and Verification System) which is the largest implementation of telepharmacy in the world.
Whether it’s on a large scale like the Navy’s system or on a smaller scale like a neighborhood pharmacy, telepharmacy can ensure that the person with the most knowledge about medication (the pharmacist) is connecting with other health professionals and with patients to make sure the proper care is being given.