Background and importance The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new scenario for the dispensing of hospital drugs. Hospital pharmacy services had to implement a telepharmacy programme in record time, to bring drugs closer to patients.
Aim and objectives To measure the impact of a telepharmacy programme in terms of direct and indirect costs and benefits for patients.
Material and methods A retrospective observational study was conducted in a tertiary level hospital between March and September 2020. The following variables were collected: number of remote dispensings, number of patients enrolled in the telepharmacy programme, population characteristics, drugs and storage conditions, average distance, and direct and indirect costs.
Results 13 216 remote dispensings were made relating to 4090 active patients within the telepharmacy programme. This represented 51.21% of the total number of our outpatients (7986). 50.81% (2078) of the patients were women and median age was 57 (±23) years. 44.59% (5894) of the total drugs sent were thermolabile drugs. The mean distance of the shipments was 41.7 (0.2–208) km. Establishing the ratio 0.226€/km, and 1 visit every 2 months to the hospital pharmacy service, direct costs would mean an average of 113.04€ per year for patients. Establishing the 1 km/2 min relationship, the annual indirect costs represent 10.5 working hours: 7.7 hours as the average travel time and 2.8 hours as the average waiting time for face-to-face dispensings.
Conclusion and relevance Telepharmacy has become one more tool for dispensing treatments to outpatients with savings for the patient in terms of travel and waiting times. The time of confinement due to the pandemic has accelerated the inclusion of patients in this programme, reaching more than 50% in 6 months.
Conflict of interest No conflict of interest
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