Current practices and state regulations regarding telepharmacy in rural hospitals

Casey, Michelle M.; Sorensen, Todd D.; Elias, Walter; Knudson, Alana; Gregg, Walter
July 2010
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;7/1/2010, Vol. 67 Issue 13, p1085
Academic Journal
Purpose. Telepharmacy practices in rural hospitals in several states were examined, and relevant policies and state laws and regulations were analyzed, along with issues to be addressed as the use of telepharmacy expands. Methods. Telepharmacy initiatives in rural hospitals were identified through a survey of the 50 state offices of rural health. Telephone interviews were conducted with board of pharmacy directors in selected states with successful telepharmacy programs. Interviews were also conducted with the individual hospitals regarding the type of telepharmacy activities, funding, and impact on medication safety. The information was analyzed to identify themes and to assess whether state laws and regulations followed recommendations by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Results. Although telepharmacy is addressed in NABP's model pharmacy practice act, many state boards are just beginning to address it. The model act addresses the practice of pharmacy across state lines, and the state board directors interviewed generally agreed that pharmacists should be licensed in the state where they are providing the service. States differed on whether a pharmacist should be required to be physically located in a licensed pharmacy and how much time the pharmacist should have to spend onsite. Telepharmacy models being implemented in hospitals in several states incorporate long-distance supervision of pharmacy technicians by pharmacists. The models being implemented vary according to area, state regulations, hospital ownership, and hospital size and medication order volume. Most hospitals reported that they track medication error rates, and some said error rates have improved since telepharmacy implementation. Conclusion. The application of telepharmacy in rural hospitals varies across the United States but is not widespread, and many states have not defined regulations for telepharmacy in hospitals.


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