Objectives: This study aimed to describe the actions taken to implement a telepharmacy programme with home medication dispensing and informed delivery in an outpatient pharmaceutical care unit of a tertiary hospital, where approximately 5000 patients are treated per year. It also aimed to substantiate the applicability and benefits of the programme through analysing the findings and measuring patient satisfaction.
Methods: We identified the operational, logistical, technological and legal needs, as well as the need for training, information and coordination with the care team and patient associations. A standard operating procedure was developed which described the home dispensing model and the profile of patients eligible for telepharmacy. Care activity was evaluated, between the months of July 2020 and January 2021; and a survey was conducted to measure patient satisfaction based on the Enopex project, a cross-sectional observational study of patients who used telepharmacy services during the COVID-19 lockdown period in Spain.
Results: A total of 2536 medication deliveries were made over 144 working days, with a mean of 18 (standard deviation (SD): 6) deliveries per day, and a total of 2854 dispensings (1.1 drugs per delivery). In total, 197 different types of pharmaceutical formulations were delivered, corresponding to 123 active ingredients. The distance and time avoided during the study period totalled 1 05 624 km and 1 09 452 min (76 days), whereby the median distance and time saved per patient were 66 (interquartile range (IQR):122 km and 90 (IQR:90) minutes, which represents an approximate carbon footprint reduction of 25 kg of CO2 per patient and 16.5 tonnes in total. The satisfaction survey conducted, completed by 134 patients, revealed high satisfaction with the pharmacy service of 9.88 points out of 10.
Conclusions: The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (COVID-19) has provided the pharmacy service with an opportunity to develop and implement a telepharmacy programme that benefits patients, which has enabled better organisation of the unit and greater accessibility for patients attending in person. It is a replicable method that is applicable in other pharmacy services with similar characteristics and requirements.
Keywords: COVID-19; Health Care Economics and Organizations; Hospital Distribution Systems; MEDICATION SYSTEMS, HOSPITAL; PHARMACY SERVICE, HOSPITAL.
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