It recently caught my attention again that our wonderful “Enhanced Medscheck” does not allow the service to be conducted over the phone or via videoconferencing. I do not personally conduct Medscheck via these methods but I certainly see the value of connecting with patients either via the phone or videoconferencing. In addition, I find this point counterintuitive especially when we are trying to promote our expanded scope of pharmacy practice.
If the patient is too frail to visit the pharmacy, or it makes sense for pharmacist to connect via these technologies, I don’t see why we should be discouraged from doing so. Why are we denying these individuals of a service that they truly need? Some of the elderly have not seen their family physicians for several years. Many of them are still taking medications that should have been stopped long ago. A medication review will help to address these issues.
There are times where a pharmacist visit to the home is necessary to review the setting in which the patient self medicates, whether there are safety concerns and whether we can validate what the patient reports. But if this isn’t necessary, then why should we burden the patient to travel to the pharmacy for a medication review? It makes sense to utilize these alternative methods of communication.
Of course, there are concerns about privacy and patient confidentiality. There are security issues; at this time, we may not be able to utilize any of the existing technologies to discuss confidential information. But we will some day. So for this “Enhanced Medscheck Program” to say we cannot conduct Medscheck via the phone or videoconferencing, without opening up some room for future use seems narrow minded in their vision. Or perhaps it is just an easy excuse not to reimburse the pharmacist for an otherwise sufficient medication review. At the end of the day, is this program really set up to benefit the patients? If so, then I think we should allow at least part of the review to be conducted by phone or videoconferencing, especially if the travel to the pharmacy can become a significant burden for the patient and as long as all the security measures of the communication technologies are reasonably set up to protect patient confidentiality.
We are in the world surrounded by social media, advanced technologies. Let’s embrace them and not be afraid of them, even in our pharmacy profession.