CASE STUDY. Impact of telepharmacy in a multihospital health system

Garrelts, James C.; Gagnon, Mark; Eisenberg, Charles; Moerer, Janell; Carrithers, Joe
September 2010
American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy;9/1/2010, Vol. 67 Issue 17, p1456
Academic Journal
Purpose. The impact of telepharmacy in a multihospital health system was evaluated. Summary. Telepharmacy services were implemented at five hospitals within a Catholic, nonprofit, integrated delivery network health system. Telepharmacy services were provided by seven pharmacists employed by the health system. Using a virtual private network or terminal server, pharmacists directly accessed hospital servers and information systems to conduct their work. Telephone calls were automatically routed the telepharmacist so that handling of nursing and other calls would be transparent to staff. Hours of telepharmacy service were 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday through Friday evenings at four of the hospitals and 8 m. to 10 p.m. at the rural hospital. Order-processing time for routine orders was reduced from 26.8 to 14 minutes (p < 0.0001), while stat order processing was shortened from 11.6 to 8.8 minutes (p = 0.007). For routine orders, turnaround times greater than 60 minutes became almost nonexistent after telepharmacy services were implemented. The number of clinical interventions documented increased by 42%, from 619 to 881, equivalent to a net annualized saving of $1,132,144. A significant improvement in nurses' global satisfaction with pharmacist availability for unit consultations was reported (3.0 versus 4.0 on a 5.0 Likert scale; p = 0.028). Conclusion. The implementation of telepharmacy services in a multihospital health system expanded hours of service, improved the speed of processing of physician medication orders, and increased clinical pharmacy services and cost avoidance. Surveys of health care staff found that telepharmacy services were well received.


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