A Day in the Life of a Telepharmacist
Ashley Loeffelholz, PharmD, is the Pharmacy Manager of two NuCara pharmacies in Iowa. The first is a traditional retail pharmacy located in Ames, where she spends most of her days. The second is a hybrid telepharmacy located in State Center. Loeffelholz spends one day a week at the telepharmacy site to provide immunizations and other clinical services, but the majority of her time is spent juggling patients at both sites. She shares what a typical day is like for her as a telepharmacist:
At the start of each day, Loeffelholz signs into the TelePharm software that connects her to the audio and visual system that supports the telepharmacy. She does a test call with her technician to ensure the equipment is working properly.
When a prescription needs to be filled at the telepharmacy site, Loeffelholz is notified by a sound that goes off to signal there’s a waiting prescription.
“We first verify the prescription. We check it for accuracy, just like we would at a typical pharmacy, and then all of their patient profile, medication history, allergies. . . all of that comes across as part of their telepharmacy profile, so we check all of that,” she said.
If it’s a new prescription or she feels a consultation is necessary, she presses a button to mark the exchange as a consult. She is able to provide the consult over a tablet that the technician provides to the patient.
“It looks like you are Skyping with someone except I have the drug information pulled up on the right hand side as they are picking up the drug,” she said.
The patient is also able to request a consult at any time, and typically patients call from both of NuCara’s telepharmacies in Iowa. They are placed into a pool that one of three pharmacists who monitor the system are able to answer.
If a problem or concern is identified with a prescription, there’s a chat option that allows the pharmacist to converse with the technician or notify the technician and patient that the pharmacist plans to call the doctor.
Loeffelholz says the telepharmacy in State Center typically handles anywhere from 30 to 50 prescriptions a day. That volume is comparable if not a little higher than her volume at the traditional pharmacy in Ames.
“I had never heard of a telepharmacy but I was pretty excited to try it out and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how smoothly everything has gone,” she said.