COVID-19 has brought about many new trends in pharmacy technology – from using artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to anticipate drug shortages to dedicated automated dispensing cabinets for COVID-19 units. One of the biggest changes to hospital pharmacy, however, is the use of technology to embrace virtual working models.
“The stay-at-home orders during COVID-19 really opened the country’s eyes to the fact that people can be productive at home with the right tools,” says Justin Sotomayor, Pharm.D., CompleteRx Director of Pharmacy Informatics.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, CompleteRx created a plan for the hospitals it staffs to limit exposure to COVID-19 and mitigate potential staffing shortages due to illness or quarantine. The plan is designed to protect the public by decreasing the risk of COVID-19 exposure for patients, clinical pharmacists, and other healthcare providers while maintaining high standards of pharmacy clinical services.
The guidance helps hospitals maintain pharmacy operations with the ability to work remotely during emergent situations. With the right tools and framework in place, facilities have the ability to provide a wide range of pharmacy services remotely, including order entry, chart reviews, interpreting clinical data and performing therapeutic interventions.
Post-crisis and a potential second wave
While stay-at-home orders have been lifted in most parts of the country, surges of new cases are popping up and a potential second wave is expected to hit this fall or winter. As we move out of the initial response to the pandemic, hospitals need to be prepared for these resurgences with flexible workforce and workflow arrangements.
A remote staffing plan should include strategies for maintaining uninterrupted and secure communication, reviewing patient information, and providing recommendations and interventions.
“The success of working remotely really hinges on effective communication,” adds Sotomayor. “Communication methods, such as emails, virtual huddles and phone calls are essential to identify gaps in staffing coverage and to address questions and concerns.”
3 considerations for remote pharmacy staffing
As the country experiences resurgences of COVID-19 and a potential second wave, prepare your organization for the ability to shift your pharmacy workforce to work-from-home. While there are unique challenges with remote work, the right tools and guidelines can help.
Here are three suggestions to help make remote pharmacy staffing seamless.
Provide secure connectivity
A virtual private network (VPN) allows your pharmacists to connect to your organization’s electronic health record (EHR) network, providing access to important files and folders in a secure way. Provide a laptop or desktop device to be used solely for VPN connectivity into the facility’s EHR network, avoiding personal device use.
Deploy VoIP telecommunications
Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telecommunication provides two-way communication for patient care providers and remote staff. Beyond voice calls, a VoIP communication platform can be used for videoconferencing, chat, file sharing and more, allowing teams to connect efficiently and reliably.
Hold daily huddles
Hold daily online huddles to maintain communication with onsite and remote pharmacy staff. These short meetings are important for facilitating problem-solving and helping to bridge communication gaps.
As the COVID-19 situation evolves, having a flexible working model for your pharmacy department is essential. With a few remote resources, pharmacists can complete daily operations without needing to be physically present in the department.
Join us for a webinar on Tuesday, July 21 that will cover advancements in pharmacy practice as a result of COVID-19. We’ll share guidance on proactive planning for a COVID-19 vaccine and other helpful information.