The 3 Best Places to Open a Telepharmacy

Zach Schladetzky | February 27, 2017

Location, location, location. Although retail telepharmacy is a great way to grow your operation, you'll want to be sure to pick the right location.

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If you’re reading this, that means you’re interested in expanding your pharmacy operation. First, congratulations! The fact that you’ve arrived at this point is an accomplishment in itself. But where should you look to set up shop? As a pharmacy owner or director, how do you start to evaluate potential sites?

We're here to help. Every situation is unique, but here's our picks for the three best locations to open a telepharmacy.

 

1. Rural communities

Remember, every situation is different, but here’s the initial criteria we look for in regards to rural locations.

  • Mileage: the town is typically 10 or more miles from the nearest retail pharmacy (there is a need).
  • Population: roughly 800+ people to ensure a sufficient prescription volume .
  • Near clinics or providers: finding a town with a clinic, physician, nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant would be ideal as you can encourage patients to fill their prescriptions at your local, in-town pharmacy.

Other criteria we look for:

  • Elderly population: is there an assisted-living center?
  • Local quality-of-life services: is there a grocery store, bank, dentist, etc.?

All of these factors play a big role in the potential success of your rural community telepharmacy, however, the most important criteria in regards to a rural location is community interest and support. If you can get the patients of the community excited about the possibility of local pharmacy services, you should be able to open a successful remote-dispensing site. This can be done through community support initiatives and other marketing activities.

Interested in a telepharmacy success story in a town of 600 people? Download the case study! 

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2. Inside or near health systems and clinics

Whether you're a independent community pharmacy owner or you're involved in pharmacy operations at a health system, here's a list of organizations that could benefit from dispensing at the point of care via telepharmacy:

  • Retail medical clinics (a growing trend in healthcare)
  • Traditional health systems
  • Specialty clinics
  • Critical access hospitals (CAHs)     
  • Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs)  
  • Mental health centers
  • Academic medical centers (including student health centers)
  • Employer campuses

 

The benefits of an on-site pharmacy as as follows:

  • Improved medication adherence
  • Reduced readmission rates
  • Generate added revenue
  • Improve health outcomes and the overall patient experience

Opening a telepharmacy inside of an federally qualified health center, or a covered entity, is also a great idea because you can provide 340B prescriptions to help make up for lost reimbursements. Normally these clinics already serve patients located in pharmacy deserts, and can help to share the cost of operating the location. Telepharmacy allows FQHCs to offer point-of-care dispensing in a manner that's convenient and cost-effective for both the health system and the patient. 

Watch our video success story on Colee's Community Pharmacy, a 340B telepharmacy.

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3. Underserved Urban Areas

Although telepharmacy was originally designed for rural use through the North Dakota Telepharmacy Project, we can’t forget about underserved urban areas.

According to a study published in the November 2014 issue of Health Affairs, research suggests that low-income neighborhoods in major cities are likely to be underserved by pharmacies. Take Chicago, for example. “Of Chicago’s 802 census tracts, 32 percent were in pharmacy deserts,” according to the Health Affairs study. “Approximately 1 million people live in pharmacy deserts (in Chicago), and 53 percent of these people live in segregated black communities.”

Thanks for reading. Do you have a location in mind? Submit your info for a free location analysis. We're here to help!

 

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