Why virtual pharmacists could bridge the healthcare provider gap
Pharmacists are the most underutilized healthcare provider.
Roby Miller, founder of Rock Health portfolio company TelePharm weighed in on the future of telemedicine and how virtual pharmacists, are fitting into the health tech conversation today.
Like many of us, Roby knows that the word “telemedicine” is becoming the word in the health tech industry. But what does telemedicine mean to most people? It has been Roby’s experience that “when people hear the term, they think of a video chat between a provider and a patient.” And when most people hear the word ‘provider’, they think of the doctor, not the pharmacist. Why? Most of us think of pharmacists as the dispenser of medication—that’s all. But what happens if pharmacists start spending more time counseling patients virtually? “We’ll see a shift in how pharmacists are reimbursed because their value will be realized shortly from a payers’ standpoint,” says Roby.
What will happen after this shift occurs? Roby expects, “there will be a big demand for pharmacists to consult patients online.” And thanks to companies like TelePharm, this major shift Roby speaks of may already well be underway. “My goal at TelePharm is that we are the connector between pharmacists and their patients… we would like to make pharmacists the most accessible healthcare provider in the U.S.” How can pharmacists be the most accessible provider, without ever seeing the patient in person though? Robys says “pharmacists don’t ever physically touch a patient and mail-order pharmacies talk to patients over the phone. Why would we not want to improve the model with video?” Roby nor Telepharm is alone in this thinking. Take Google’s new telemedicine trial within its Helpouts service for example. Google too is indeed now testing video-based medical consultations.
But while most video-based medical consultation devices and apps nowadays focus on the doctor, Roby is focused on the pharmacist. “Adherence to medication is costing taxpayers an incredible amount of money right now and virtual pharmacists are the solution!”
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Roby Miller is the Founder and CEO of TelePharm, enabling pharmacists to remotely verify prescriptions and counsel patients from any store, maximizing the pharmacy’s output by sharing payroll costs over multiple stores. TelePharm makes it easier to virtually schedule appointments and follow-up sessions with pharmacists and to verify prescriptions remotely.