Magazine article Drug Topics

ASHP Guidelines Foster Remote Pharmacy Management

Magazine article Drug Topics

ASHP Guidelines Foster Remote Pharmacy Management

Article excerpt


Pharmacy directors who want to - or have to - operate 24/7 but don't have the staff to cover all 3 shifts have a new ally, the American Society of Health- System Pharmacists (ASHP). In April, ASHP issued its first-ever guidelines for remote medication order processing (RMOP).

"We are in a resource-strapped healthcare environment where it is not always possible to have a pharmacist on duty 24 hours a day," said Anthea Francis, RPh, director, section of inpatient care practitioners, ASHP "On the practical side, a hospital may not be able to hire the pharmacists it needs. Remote pharmacy management is an alternative."

Not being able to hire a pharmacist was the spot Richard Stomackin, RPh, found himself in 5 years ago. As pharmacy director at Lewistown Hospital, a 1 39 -bed facility in rural Lewistown, Pa., Stomackin suddenly needed a full third shift to support a pending move to electronic medication administration records (eMARs).

"Our vendor asked during a conference call when pharmacy was going to go 24 hours," Stomackin said. "That's when we found out that eMAR required round-the-clock pharmacy services. Recruitment is difficult in rural areas today, and it was even tougher in 2005. 1 had all of 2 weeks to M those slots. It was less expensive and faster to utilize a night pharmacy service."

Stomackin signed with Cardinal Health's Rxe-source, then one of the few national RMOP providers. He still uses the service as coverage for third shift and as a resource while Lewistown builds a computerized physician order-entry system that also requires 24-hour pharmacy support 7 days a week.

Lewistown Hospital is not unusual. The latest ASHP survey found that nearly 80% of hospitals nationwide lack pharmacy coverage at some point during a typical week. The widespread lack of 24/7 coverage combined with mandates to enhance hospital technology are fueling a surge of interest in remote pharmacy management. Community pharmacy is grappling with similar issues as telepharmacy replaces pharmacists in small-town and rural healthcare settings.

It's not just rural hospitals that use RMOP, said Kelly Morrison, Rxe-source director of sales and marketing and a member of the ASHP committee that drafted the new guidelines. A growing number of health-system pharmacies also need help covering nights and weekends. Some systems use workloadbalancing programs that include RMOP; others turn to outside providers.

"A lot of pharmacists and pharmacy directors don't know the kinds of things they need to consider," said Mickey Price, ASHP committee member and Rxe-source vice president. …

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