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8/15/2000

Focus Group Looks at Impact of Telepharmacy

Cheryl A. Thompson

Uses of technology and advances in telecommunications to assist pharmacists in managing patients and their drug therapy were the main topics of discussion by a group convened recently by the ASHP Research and Education Foundation and the ASHP Center on Managed Care Pharmacy.

The focus group met in June to examine the implications of telecommunications and telemedicine on pharmacy practice. The panelists, who represented a variety of practice settings and the telecommunications industry, developed recommendations to help pharmacists use emerging technology to care for patients at a distance. 

"Technological advances are allowing patients greater access to health-system pharmacists and their knowledge and pharmacist's expertise," said ASHP Foundation Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Stephen J. Allen, M.S., FASHP. "We believe that the focus group's recommendations will give us an excellent starting point from which to work and will broaden our understanding of the impact telepharmacy can have on patient care." 

The inclusion of representatives from the telecommunications industry is particularly significant, noted Colleen O'Malley, director of ASHP's Center on Managed Care Pharmacy. "The meeting revealed a spectrum of telepharmacy activity ranging from the use of the telephone and fax to wireless technology. We hope that this discussion will stimulate an ongoing dialogue and partnerships that will provide practitioners with even more options for patient care."