Learning Telehealth Platforms Shows Benefit for Pharmacy Students

Pharmacy CareersSpring 2024
Volume 18
Issue 01

Pharmacy graduates must be well-equipped to thrive in various settings, especially in the wake of the pandemic as more avenues to patient care services have emerged.

Introduction to Telepharmacy in Pharmacy Education

Telepharmacy is defined as the provision of pharmaceutical care to patients at a distance by registered pharmacists or pharmacies using telecommunications.1 Pharmacists provide a variety of services through telepharmacy, including drug dispensing, patient counseling, pharmaceutical therapy management, and consulting based on the patient’s specific disease state. Telepharmacy services may also include pharmacogenomics, ambulatory care, transitioning pharmaceutical care, managing drug therapy, managing chronic illness, dispensing remotely, assessing outcomes, and providing decision support.2

irtual therapist consulting young man during online appointment on laptop at home. | Image Credit: insta_photos - stock.adobe.com

Image Credit: insta_photos - stock.adobe.com

Tele-education needs to be integrated into pharmacy training to be able to provide telepharmacy services in the real world. Pharmacists can improve patient health and well-being by mastering technological innovations, establishing multidisciplinary networks, understanding professional behavior, and specializing in patient-centered treatment and communication.3,4 Students’ performance is evaluated more effectively when telepharmacy is integrated into pharmacy education, especially for drug histories, counseling, and assessing patients. Additionally, clinical skills can be evaluated because of anticipated results from situations students are expected to identify.5-7 Telepharmacy also requires many skills, such as communication etiquette that encompass specific behaviors that contribute to a productive consultation. Proficiency in telepharmacy etiquette includes both nonverbal and verbal communication skills that are linked to improvements in patient satisfaction and effective patient interactions.7

Remote Clinical Rotations

Remote clinical rotations are possible with telepharmacy, which can increase access to medical education and reduce costs. Remote clinical rotations may last 1 to 4 weeks and simulate physical rotations with both outpatient and inpatient interaction.8,9 However, some rotations may restrict patient involvement with a hybrid approach or fully remote setting. This rotation design has also been adopted in Germany and Israel, where pharmacy students have improved their video-conferencing skills significantly.10-12 Further, it is suggested that these rotations were adapted to continue even after COVID-19 pandemic spikes.13,14

Simulation and Case-Based Training

Simulation and case-based training are invaluable tools for improving health care professionals’ skills and expertise in telepharmacy. Medical simulation provides health care professionals with the opportunity to confidently enhance their skills and acquire innovative techniques and approaches to patient care in a secure and regulated setting. Challenges like resource scarcity and standardization barriers exist, requiring realistic scenarios, ongoing support, and stakeholder collaboration for success.15 Case-based training is an effective method for pharmacy students to identify their learning needs, conduct research, and bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.16 Students must, however, undertake simulation-based hands-on training before becoming comfortable with telepharmacy.

Interprofessional Collaboration

Innovative models effectively combine interprofessional health care teams, including doctors and nurses, with virtual pharmacist services.17 Collaborative medical teams, consisting of interprofessional care coordinators and tele-pharmacists, are unequivocally crucial for efficiently managing patients with chronic illnesses.18-20 By adopting an individualized telemedicine strategy, pharmacists can confidently position themselves as health care providers and charge for the value-added services they provide to patients.18 Numerous studies have confirmed the positive impact of tele-education on pharmacy students’ communication with other students in health care.19,20

Challenges and Solutions

Telepharmacy’s inclusion in pharmacy education faces several barriers, including inadequate infrastructure and access, insufficient technological proficiency, and resistance to change. These challenges must be overcome through effective strategies and solutions to integrate telepharmacy successfully.21 Furthermore, the use of digital technology in pharmacy education can be facilitated by the support of professors from the university, specific departments, senior teachers, and students who have prior remote online teaching-learning experience.22 Moreover, educational technologies must be developed, assessed, and validated simultaneously, to ensure that the suggested learning goal will be accomplished. This can be achieved through various effective methods such as reading, case studies, engaging lectures, electronic educational games, digital patient software, augmented or virtual reality, simulated patients, and real-life patient care.23

Student Perspectives

It is evident that there are divergent perceptions regarding telepharmacy programs. The study demonstrates that students perceived telepharmacy favorably in contrast to in-person visits. The consensus among students is that telepharmacy can eliminate errors, enhance clinical decision-making, and significantly reduce the need for unnecessary visits to the pharmacy and other medical facilities. Telepharmacy is a promising tool that can significantly enhance communication between health care providers, ultimately resulting in better and safer patient care management. Telepharmacy can positively impact the health care sector despite potential challenges.1

Experiences by Students in Telepharmacy

Experiences by Students in Telepharmacy

it was found that telepharmacy and in-person consultations varied. The students were initially evaluated on their ability to counsel face-to-face, and the study revealed that they were more successful at giving consultations in person than through telepharmacy.6 The details of the study are presented in Figure.

As part of a comprehensive phase 3 research study, second- and third-year pharmacy students from 2 institutions have successfully completed a telepharmacy course and discussion questions. Based on the students’ feedback, both in-person and remote treatment provide the same level of care delivery and quality. However, there were some differences in the use of technology and troubleshooting, as well as some perceived difficulties in forming relationships due to the inability to perform physical assessments, pharmaceutical show-and-tell, and device training. Overall, the study highlights the potential of telepharmacy as a viable option for health care delivery.16,24

About The Author

Azhar Hussain, DHA, MBA, is a 2026 PharmD candidate at Touro University College of Pharmacy in New York, New York. He is a first-generation college student with a doctorate in health care administration and MBA in health care management and administration.

Future Directions

Pharmacy graduates must be well equipped to thrive in various settings, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, where pharmacists have more avenues to provide patient care via telepharmacy. It is crucial to incorporate telepharmacy training into pharmacy programs, providing practical experiences, simulated laboratory exercises, theoretical instruction, and opportunities for students to evaluate how virtual connections can enhance patient outcomes. These opportunities will undoubtedly be spread across each curriculum’s different courses and years, ensuring that graduates are fully prepared to excel in the field of pharmacy and make a tangible impact in the lives of their patients.

  1. Patel K. Assessment of knowledge, attitude, perception of pharmacy students towards telepharmacy. Applied Research Projects. 2021;75. doi:10.21007/chp.hiim.0072
  2. Telehealth. American Pharmacists Association. Accessed December 19, 2023. https://www.pharmacist.com/Practice/Practice-Resources/Telehealth
  3. Frenzel J, Porter A. The need to educate pharmacy students in telepharmacy and telehealth. Am J Pharm Educ. 2021;85(8):8566. doi:10.5688/ajpe8566
  4. Accreditation standards and key elements for the professional program in pharmacy leading to the doctor of pharmacy degree. Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. 2015. Accessed December 22, 2023. https://www.acpe-accredit.org/pdf/Standards2016FINAL2022.pdf
  5. Hasan S, Zubaidi HA, Saidawi W. Assessing pharmacy student performance and perceptions on counseling skills through a simulated telehealth encounter. Am J Pharm Educ. 2022;86(7):8619. doi:10.5688/ajpe8619
  6. Frenzel JE, Porter AL. Design and assessment of telepharmacy and telehealth training in two pharmacy programs. Am J Pharm Educ. 2023;87(2):ajpe8800. doi:10.5688/ajpe8800
  7. Schroeder MN, Lengel AJ. Evaluation of a rubric to assess pharmacy student performance in a telehealth simulation exercise. Am J Pharm Educ. 2022;86(8):ajpe8778. doi:10.5688/ajpe8778
  8. Satnarine T, Lee Kin C. A review of virtual medical student rotations during the COVID-19 pandemic: their role, advantages, disadvantages, and future prospects. Cureus. 2022;14(4). doi:10.7759/cureus.24280
  9. Koch LK, Correll-Buss A, Chang OH. Implementation and effectiveness of a completely virtual pathology rotation for visiting medical students. Am J Clin Pathol. 2022;157(3):406-412. doi:10.1093/ajcp/aqab140
  10. Armon S, Benyamini Y, Grisaru-Granovsky S, Avitan T. Online obstetrics and gynecology medical students clerkship during the Covid-19 pandemic: a pilot study. Med Sci Educ. 2021;31(2):457-461. doi:10.1007/s40670-020-01181-y
  11. Peter-Kern M, Härtel C, König S. Online-rotation in paediatrics–digital live-interaction with children. GMS J Med Educ. 2020020;37(7):Doc101. doi:10.3205/zma001394
  12. May CC, Atyia SA, Hafford AJ, Smetana KS. Clinical advanced pharmacy practice experience rotations during COVID-19: evaluation of a transition to virtual learning. J Pharm Pract. 2023;36(4):875-881. doi:10.1177/08971900221087116
  13. Shah HP, Narwani V, Lee YH. Live-streaming otolaryngology surgical procedures for virtual medical student rotations. J Laryngol Otol. 2022;136(3):261-264. doi:10.1017/S0022215121004680
  14. Huang LY, McKenty N, Alvarez A, et al. Virtually possible: medical student rehabilitation rotations during a pandemic. Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2021;100(9):831-836. doi:10.1097/PHM.0000000000001831
  15. Al-Worafi YM. Simulation in the distance and online pharmacy practice: telepharmacy and telehealth. In: Al-Worafi YM, ed. Comprehensive Healthcare Simulation: Pharmacy Education, Practice and Research. Springer International Publishing; 2023:189-196.
  16. Mahajan R, Badyal DK, Gupta P, Singh T. Cultivating lifelong learning skills during graduate medical training. Indian Pediatr. 2016;53(9):797-804. doi:10.1007/s13312-016-0934-9
  17. Taylor AM, Bingham J, Schussel K, et al. Integrating innovative telehealth solutions into an interprofessional team-delivered chronic care management pilot program. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2018;24(8):813-818. doi:10.18553/jmcp.2018.24.8.813
  18. Marotta R. The state of provider status: an update for pharmacy students. Pharmacy Times. February 22, 2016. Accessed December 19, 2023. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/career/2016/pharmacycareers_february2016/the-state-of-providerstatus-an-update-for-pharmacy-students
  19. Skoy ET, Eukel HN, Frenzel JE, Schmitz TM. Performance and perceptions: evaluation of pharmacy students’ consultation via telepharmacy. J Pharm Technol. 2015;31(4):155-160. doi:10.1177/8755122514568123
  20. Beal JL, Weber ZA, Isaacs AN, Illingworth Plake KS, Zillich A, Woodyard JL. Pharmacy student preferences and perceptions of in-person versus video evaluations in pharmacy skills-based laboratory courses. Am J Pharm Educ. 2020;84(11):7976. doi:10.5688/ajpe7976
  21. Meghana A, Aparna Y, Chandra SM, Sanjeev S. Emergency preparedness and response (EP&R) by pharmacy professionals in India: lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic and the way forward. Res Social Adm Pharm. 2021;17(1):2018-2022. doi:10.1016/j.sapharm.2020.04.028
  22. Jaam M, Nazar Z, Rainkie DC, et al. Using Assessment Design Decision Framework in understanding the impact of rapid transition to remote education on student assessment in health-related colleges: a qualitative study. PLoS One. 2021;16(7):e0254444. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0254444
  23. Silva ROS, de Araújo DCSA, Dos Santos Menezes PW, Neves ER, de Lyra DP Jr. Digital pharmacists: the new wave in pharmacy practice and education. Int J Clin Pharm. 2022;44(3):775-780. doi:10.1007/s11096-021-01365-5
  24. Alfian SD, Khoiry QA, Andhika A Pratama M, et al. Knowledge, perception, and willingness to provide telepharmacy services among pharmacy students: a multicenter cross-sectional study in Indonesia. BMC Med Educ. 2023;23(1):800. doi:10.1186/s12909-023-04790-4

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