The use of videoconferencing and other telehealth technologies to expand access to clinical pharmacy services at multiple Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics in rural areas of Alaska and the northwestern United States is described.Summary
Beginning in 2014, clinical pharmacy specialists at a regional VA Telehealth Hub based at Boise VA Medical Center in Idaho have provided telehealth services for 16 clinics. In one telehealth model, a pharmacist and other remotely located primary care team members (a medical provider, a medical support assistant, a social worker, and a psychologist) conduct telehealth visits with veterans located at VA clinics, with support provided by clinic-based nursing staff; this model has been used to improve medication management services for veterans in sparsely populated areas. In the second VA telehealth model, a remotely located pharmacist uses telehealth technology to participate in clinical encounters along with primary care team members located at the patient site; this model allows on-demand remote coverage in the event of planned or unplanned absences of clinic-based pharmacists. Since the Telehealth Hub was established, pharmacists have engaged in video encounters and provided other telehealth-based clinical services to more than 1,200 veterans with diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and other chronic conditions.Conclusion
Within the VA healthcare system, telehealth technology has been demonstrated to be a cost-effective and well-received means of providing clinical pharmacy services in rural areas.