Background and importance Due to the economic crisis, many hospitals in our country, especially those located in remote areas and on the islands, have limited hospital pharmacist coverage (one hospital pharmacist per hospital). Telepharmacy addresses the shortages of pharmacists in rural areas.
Aim and objectives To ensure that inexperienced hospital pharmacists, working in small rural hospitals, are sufficiently supported and educated by their experienced colleagues.
Material and methods In this preliminary study, two inexperienced hospital pharmacists interacted on a daily basis with three experienced colleagues employed in tertiary hospitals, analysing administrative duties and sharing best practice approaches for a period of 1 year to establish a common working framework. The methods of communication included calls, teleconference/video calls and emails. The experienced hospital pharmacists were available for immediate contact.
Results Over 1 year, 672 communications via telephone or email (regarding 168 problems, average 4 communications per problem) were recorded for both rural hospitals. Twice monthly, scheduled teleconference/video calls were conducted to stabilise the procedures and check on the follow-up of the interventions. In total, 21 video calls were conducted.
Problems were categorised into four main fields: (1) pharmacy management (38%) (eg, daily practice, shortages, procurement, IT problems); (2) administrative issues (28%) (eg, SOPs, personnel duties, out of pharmacy collaborations; (3) scientific issues (23%) (eg, pharmacovigilance, antibiotic stewardship, risk assessment and safety problems); and (4) patients’ and healthcare professionals (HCPs)’ education and consultancy (11%). From the 168 problems discussed, 106 (63%) were successfully resolved, 43 (26%) are still ongoing but positively progressing and 19 (11%) remained unresolved and difficult to overcome, as they may demand consent of other HCPs, hospital manager and/or the Ministry of Health. The study interviewees completed questionnaires every 3 months, assessing the following indexes: response time (reduced), the percentage of resolved problems (increased, mostly for those from the first two categories) and experienced stress at workplace (reduced).
Conclusion and relevance Telepharmacy may allow hospital pharmacists of smaller hospitals learn and benefit from experienced colleagues. Following these results, a broader plan for hospital telepharmacy should be designed and supported by national authorities.
References and/or acknowledgements No conflict of interest.
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