Video Conferencing Eases Staffing Shortages

Published Online: Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Kansas, licensed pharmacists can use state-of-the-art video conferencing technology to supervise registered pharmacy technicians in rural hospitals as the technicians prepare prescriptions.

According to the Kansas State Board of Pharmacy’s December 2011 newsletter, the practice allows patients in rural or medically underserved areas to have pharmacy services without the presence of an in-house pharmacist. The decision is part of a growing telepharmacy trend toward easing staffing shortages in medically underserved or rural areas, according to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).

“Telepharmacy expands patient access to pharmacy consultations and vital health care services in rural and medically underserved areas,” said Everett McAllister, RPh, MPA, executive director and chief executive office of the PTCB, in a press release. “PTCB Certified Pharmacy Technicians play a significant role in this safe and cost-effective alternative, providing patients with maximum coverage.”

To date, State Boards of Pharmacy in North Dakota, Montana, Illinois, South Dakota, Texas, Idaho, Utah, Kansas, and Hawaii have adopted telepharmacy regulations. Recently, Connecticut proposed an expansion to the telepharmacy pilot program it began in 2011. The pilot program allows pharmacy technicians to administer intravenous medications and treatments at patients’ homes under a licensed pharmacist’s video and audio supervision.

“Pharmacy technicians who are appropriately trained and credentialed are being used in innovative practice models, which allows us to expand pharmacy services to underserved areas and enhance patient care throughout Montana,” said Ronald Klein, RPh, executive director of the Montana State Board of Pharmacy. “The use of pharmacy technicians allows the pharmacist to spend more time with the patient, providing drug information, answering questions and promoting compliance with the drug regimen. Certification provides the public and pharmacists with additional assurance and confidence in their pharmacy provider, regardless of their proximity to the pharmacy."

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