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Telepharmacy improves access to medical care for residents of rural Dallas County

URBANA, Missouri (KY3) – Residents of rural Dallas County will have better access to medical care with the opening of a telepharmacy site in Urbana.

Seth Alley is the pharmacy manager of the new telepharmacy site.

“Patients here don’t have convenient access,” Alley says. “What we’ve noticed in pharmacy or in medical care in general is that people tend to ignore things when it’s not easy, and ignoring a problem can eventually make it worse.”

However, Alley is not the one who fills the prescriptions daily. Instead, pharmacy technology is. This allows the pharmacy to operate and function as a remote extension of the main pharmacy.

Before filling the prescription, the pharmacy technician must submit photos to the pharmacist for approval.

“It’s always our responsibility as pharmacists to make sure the pills put in the bottle are what they’re supposed to be and that they’re being given to the right person and in the right amount,” says Alley. .

With telepharmacy, there are specific guidelines set by the state board of pharmacy. There are additional inventory checks on medications and there is a 24/7 live video feed that the pharmacist has access to.

Alley must also visit Urbana Pharmacy for at least eight hours a week during the first month of operation. After that, Alley will have to travel in person for at least eight hours a month.

In addition, the pharmacy technician needs specific training.

“These are technicians who have been licensed in pharmacies for at least a year,” says Alley. “They must also pass additional testing and certification, as Nationally Certified Technicians, in order to even qualify to come here.”

The new Stephens Pharmacy telepharmacy site at the Urbana Clinic at the Ozarks Community Health Center officially opened on March 16. The telepharmacy is located at 406 S. Dallas St. It is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Stephens Pharmacy, owned and operated by Citizens Memorial Health Care Foundation in Bolivar, uses a HIPAA-compliant telepharmacy software platform enabling virtual verification of prescriptions and live video counseling with patients.

“This is where the patient can actually have a one-on-one conversation with that pharmacist using a HIPPA-compliant website, audio system, and video system,” says Alley. “That way, if there were to be someone else in the room, their protected health information wouldn’t be announced.”

Community member Linda Dahl says she used to go to Buffalo for her medicine, often expecting a long wait.

“Sometimes you couldn’t get it until late the next day and so when the doctor wants you to start right away, you couldn’t,” Dahl says.

This pharmacy will save you from having to drive more than 30 minutes to Bolivar. Community member Brad Middlemas says making this trip can be a big inconvenience.

“I call my neighbors and say ‘Hey, I’m running to Bolivar, do you need anything from the pharmacy or something.’ So we work together as a community, we don’t just drive up and down the highway,” says Middlemas.

More information on the state regulations for telepharmacy is located here.

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