MARCH 01, 2007

Alaska Native Medical Center's telepharmacy program has received top honors. It has won the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists Research and Education Foundation Award for Excellence in Medication-Use Safety. The award program honors a pharmacist-led multidisciplinary team for its significant institution-wide system improvements relating to medication use.

The aim of Alaska Native Medical Center's Southcentral Foundation Telepharmacy Program was to improve pharmaceutical care for >36,000 patients in a 2000-mile area with limited transportation options. Medical services were provided by community health aides, with physicians based in Anchorage making sporadic field visits and serving as consultants via the telephone. The Southcentral Foundation's Village Pharmacy division filled scripts for chronic medications. Acute medications, however, were administered by nonpharmacy personnel.

The center's multidisciplinary team agreed that a telepharmacy solution would best serve the challenges presented by distance, weather, and shortage of available pharmacy professionals. During its 2 years of operation, the program has made it feasible to bring all medication procurement, storage, and accountability into compliance with standards of practice; has improved access to needed medications; and has allowed Alaska Native Medical Center to track prescribing trends, collect data that were used to further improve the medication-use safety initiative, and reconcile patient medications across the spectrum of care.